Emma Cowing: A time for ludicrous promises

A woman spent every day of 2013 eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in Starbucks. Picture: AP
A woman spent every day of 2013 eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in Starbucks. Picture: AP
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IT IS one of the delightful quirks of this newspaper’s written style that after a person is mentioned in an 
article by their full name, they are referred to by their surname only.

It’s snappy, it’s clear and it dispenses with the stuffiness of Mr and Mrs.

Sometimes, however, this particular grammatical style can be a tad… unfortunate. In this column, for example, which is about a woman who has chosen to rename herself Beautiful Existence. Or, as we must glumly refer to her from now on: Existence.

Existence hit the headlines recently because she spent every day of 2013 eating her meals at Starbucks. That’s right: breakfast, lunch and dinner at the home of the Meatball Panini, the Marshmallow Twizzle and the Duffin (an ungodly combination of a doughnut and a muffin that has 460 calories and 22.3g of fat in it).

Existence apparently wanted to “explore new things in life”, and decided that spending £20 a day on baked goods at the same place for 365 days on the trot was the ideal way to accomplish this.

On her blog, which chronicles each dreary day of this experiment, Existence informs us that she has “started research on evolving humanity through social media platforms”, a notion which will certainly have the Darwinian scholars quaking in their loafers.

I suspect, however, she’d be better off doing a little research into the folly of impulsive New Year resolutions, because at a time of year when people make ludicrous promises to themselves (“I WILL go to the gym on the other side of town four times a week that involves taking three buses, two trains and a taxi”) she does rather stand out as a warning to anyone thinking of starting the year with a project that might be kindly described as overchallenging.

But the thing that I think depresses me most about Existence’s project is that it does nothing to benefit anyone else’s existence. She is apparently a mother of two, yet there is little mention of how she fed her children during this 365-day project. She does not use her experience to explore where the food she is eating came from, or highlight the issues faced by coffee growers, or question why the company she adores is so adept at avoiding little things such as tax bills. No, it’s all about Existence and her lunchtime panini, and the cute Instagram pictures of Starbucks coffee cups she doodled on.

Oh, I know that New Year resolutions are selfish by their very nature, but surely there’s a difference between a little self-improvement and the sort of dedicated navel-gazing that tries to make an enormous corporation cuddly and cute?

This year, Existence apparently plans on learning every recreational sport. Really, what an existence.

• JUST when you thought teenage girls had enough things to worry about in the world, along comes Vision Express with a pair of £131 One Direction themed glasses to remind them they will always be one vajazzle behind the crowd. I don’t know why anyone would want to pay £131 for a pair of prescription glasses that feature the signatures of five young men who barely have enough facial hair between them to cover a postage stamp, but then again I’m not a 16-year-old tweeting Harry Styles for sympathy because my cat has died. Teen idols inevitably fade, or grow their hair long and start spouting drivel about alternative therapies before finally descending into a bitter world of recriminations, expensive court battles and unfortunate Botox procedures, but while One Direction remain on top of the charts, their power is immense. They were created to be a cash cow, but the depths of exploitative cynicism some of their merchandise has now stooped to is truly depressing.

• IS IT over yet? Is it safe to come out from under the wilted, drooping Christmas tree? Because much as I love the glitz of the festive season, I really can’t wait for things to be normal again. You know, normal telly – not The Sound Of Music and The 100 Greatest Badgers On Skis Moments Of 2013; normal opening hours at the shops, not the mass panic-buying of Cava magnums and luxury prawn rings that heralds the horror of Tesco being closed for 24 hours; and normal breakfasts, because it turns out that chocolate tree decorations are not, in fact, the most nutritious start to the day. So here’s to a happy – and normal – new year.

Twitter: @emmacowing