It is hard for anyone to be cheerful at the moment, although the Conservative party attempt to rival the Chuckle Brothers, David Cameron and George Osborne, always look as if they are not trying quite hard enough to suppress a smirk. Britain strikes me as an angry country and the anger is frequently directed at people who have no voice to challenge it. ‘Divide and rule’ is a phrase that hit the headlines this week but instead of denying it is happening politicians and the media should admit it is what they do all the time. They enjoy setting us against one another, blaming everyone but themselves. It is corrosive and I have sensed myself being drained by it.
So I thought I would think of ways to cheer myself up. My blog is a random one, I admit. Posting on John Keats, poetry, family and social history, mental health and anything that gets my proverbial I am lucky that I have readers prepared, in the words of a legendary Swedish SuperGroup, to ‘take a chance on me’.
So as the new year gets underway I can no longer blame a lack of motivation and low mood on the end of the festive season. I have decided to take a very heavy hint from certain quarters and write a blog post that celebrates fun, thankfulness and all those things that I should cling to in order to chase away the black dog depression that snaps at my heels. Instead of making resolutions I will find hard to maintain I will start the year off with a list I can come back to when I need reminding of my good fortune. It won’t stop me feeling that the world we live in is a harsh one at present but a moment’s respite won’t hurt.
At the risk of starting with the obvious, I do believe that Ian Dury was a poet and even if many of the things he lists in this classic don’t light my fire, the song always makes me smile…..
So what does make this rather mournful, melancholy middle-aged woman happy? This is obviously a very personal list but it might prompt a few ideas if, like me, you are spending a Sunday on your tax return knowing Tory cronies are fiddling theirs……
- There are the obvious things of course; like gin, chocolate, coffee, sex…… and Milton Jones.
- I have reached five years beyond breast cancer. Not out of the woods but enjoying a break in the canopy. With any luck I will be discharged from hospital check-ups in March and sent on my way. Scary of course but really a cause for celebration.
- I am paid real, spendable money from my writing! My blog is going well and I earn enough from the work I do to keep the overdraft just this side of authorised. Having a self-confessed spreadsheet obsessed, control freak husband prevents me living the carefree, Bohemian lifestyle I feel I should be enjoying but to be honest, no-one else would put up with me the way he does.
- I am going to the Lake District again in May. Hoorah! Nowhere on Earth makes me feel so alive and grateful to be so. This year we are spending time in the Western Lakes, not an area I know well. I can’t wait to stand in the Wasdale Valley and walk along the edge of Wastwater. Remote Ennerdale with forest and lake to explore and the beauty of the west coast at St Bees. I refuse point blank to go round Sellafield Visitor Centre though. Force 10 gales and teeming rain will not get me in that interactive conference centre again. I am sure I emited a green glow as I left last time.
- I have a new book about Keats – The Keats Brothers – to read. People may laugh at my crush on a poet that has been dead nearly 200 years but he is fascinating and his continuing popularity is encouraging ongoing scholarship and more general writing that many other authors (apart from Charles Dickens of course, who has the monopoly on tributes this year) could only dream of.
And of course, West Ham Utd are, as at 3rd Jan, joint top of the Championship and well on the way to being a Premiership football team again. This will, however, only be a good thing if they stay there this time. I am rather enjoying this winning lark boys….
Of course I was supposed to talk about my family first. It would have been tactful, thinking about it. I have a lovely husband and two wonderful children but it is not their job to ‘make me happy’. They do, on a regular basis, of course. But feeling that you are responsible for the well-being of someone with a propensity for anxiety and depression is a lot to deal with, so this post isn’t going to pile the pressure on. Thanks guys though. I couldn’t do any of this thing called life without you.
I also have a rather wonderful sister. I disagree with her on a wide variety of subjects and frustrate her with my woolly liberal attitude to life and propensity to ‘fanny about’ but she has been a remarkable source of support over the past few years. Working with her on our jointly owned allotment is a source of great joy, even when I am treading on the beetroot and pulling up carrots as weeds…Jane you are a horticultural star.
Gosh this is plenty to be going on with! What the devil have I got to be miserable about? Well I am not going to think about it here. We all have our gripes. For one brief moment I am not going to think about mine…..
A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome, we can spare it – yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on 40 – no electric shocks…..
Ian Dury – Reasons to be Cheerful Pt 3
What offers you a little respite from the grimness that surrounds us at the moment? What makes you chuckle in the face of everything politicians can throw at us? Let me know – I may adopt a few of your ideas…