Old You meet New You… you have much in common

Murder Is Easy… as is laying into the BBC

HOW’S New You doing? Personally, I find that Old You usually wins that endless wrestling match of the immutable self.

New You might make a resolution; then Old You will sigh and say, yeah go on then, but you tried that before and look what happened.

At this point New You stamps a running-shoed foot and says surely it’s worth a try. And Old You says those are my running shoes, you know.

As a riposte, New You tells off Old You for going on what used to be called Twitter and leaving comments on right-wing tweets.

New You has a point here, as trying to put a dent in rampant right-wingers is acutely pointless. Those blubber-brains don’t care what you think however reasonably cross you feel about the shameless stuff they spout.

New You thinks Old You should also stop caring about anything written in the Daily Mail. This is sensible advice, although Old You was drawn to this ridiculous story with the headline: “BBC host swears seven times on air.”

This story was written by someone called Rory Tingle – a real person, apparently, and not a made-up name ­– and concerns an interview between Home Secretary of the moment James Cleverly and Mishal Husain of the Today programme. The presenter tried, vainly, to pin down whether Cleverly had insulted Labour MP Alex Cunningham’s Stockton North constituency by calling it a “shithole”.

She also pointed out that he’d reportedly described the Rwanda policy as “batshit” (truest thing he ever said, if he did say it). Asking these questions involved repeating the word “shit” a number of times; seven if you are a Mail reporter employed to count in order twist the screw against the BBC.

Mishal Husain was admirably persistent, but Cleverly waffled and smarmed his way out of admitting he’d said anything of the sort, even if he almost certainly did.

And anyway, you see… oh do pipe down. Sorry, Old You has just been heckled by New You. Before this new upstart gets in on the act again, Old You would like another word.

The Mail, Telegraph and Spectator predictably formed a grumpy cabal to moan about the BBC’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation. This is now a weird ritual. A BBC adaptation changes elements of an original story because – well, why ever not?

If adaptations didn’t take a new approach, didn’t think of interesting angles, we would be forever watching the same old thing again and again, rendered senseless by too much Mail Mogadon.

The Mail and co always act as if Christie, just about the most successful crime novelist ever, were a poor and defenceless old lady who needs a cultural bodyguard.

The alleged ‘crimes’ committed by Murder Is Easy were mostly connected to having a black rather than a white sleuth. As it happens, both Old You and New You thought this modification worked well. The story, moved on 20 years from the 1930s, still felt like classic Christie, just a little more relevant, a touch more modern.

Such BBC dramas are always attacked for making changes, almost as if the newspapers carrying the reviews hate them as a point of anti-BBC principle. Imagine being that small-minded; imagine being so pea-brained; imagine…

Oh, do shut up, says New You.

Last year’s Great Expectations…

Well, points out Old You, exactly the same thing happened when Steven Knight, of Peaky Blinders fame, adapted Great Expectations last year. Knight made a number of alterations to the original text and the usual suspect TV critics fell into a swoon at the horror.

Yet surely the thing about Charles Dickens, or Agatha Christie, is that their stories are strong enough to take it. One new version of Great Expectations doesn’t over-write the original novel or fatally disrespect all the others that went before.

Some of the grumble-bottoms harped on that Knight’s version was not up to the David Lean film. Fair enough, but that came out in 1946; is no-one else allowed to have a go?

As New You has just wandered off to do some stretching exercises or something, Old You would like to say something about the Tories lurching so far to the right, they risk making themselves unelectable.

Oh, and in the name of balance, add that every time Sir Keir Starmer announces he is rowing back on this policy pledge or that, the soul sinks a little lower. What’s needed is vision and stirring speeches, not a worthy promise to be a bit less shit than the Conservatives.

Oh, but New You has come back into the room, red-faced and a little sweaty, so let’s drop that topic.

As for all this newness, do you ever really change? You sometimes promote good habits over bad habits; you sometimes get something done you might not previously have achieved. You keep going; you still drink alcohol but cut back a bit; you still eat too much occasionally but not as often as you did; and so on.

New You meet Old You – you should get on as you have so much in common.

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