I’ve no evidence to back up this claim, but I strongly suspect that those who have the news on 24/7 will go mad. Simply because 99.9% of news items (which usually consist in the urgent rather than the important) are bad – and when taken in such large doses, they can propel one into the deepest of pits. Or perhaps that’s just me. Anyway, we need antidotes, things that bring joy, delight and perhaps even a little dose of optimism. In other words, things to be grateful for.
Notice how none of my list involves spending much(if any) money. Which says something in itself, does it not…?
So, here are my current top ten (though they are not in any particular order)
- The classic ‘game’ One Song To The Tune of Another on Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue (especially when Jeremy Hardy is doing it)
- Looking through photographs of the kids before they were 2
- Serving an ace in tennis doubles with good friends who think you’re rubbish at sport (which I am, as it happens)
Renewing contact with genuine friends through social media after being out of touch for 20 years or more.
- Seasonal moments: being in the countryside during an Autumnal dusk; the crisp blue-skied air of a frosty Winter’s morning; the first time you actually notice the warmth of the sun in Spring; drinking an outdoor Summer sun-downer with good friends at around 9.30pm in July.
- A brand new discovery of an artistic great: whether literary, dramatic, aural or visual
- When someone else begins to share your excitement with something that’s great or important; and/or when you begin to share theirs.
- Discovering you have loads in common with a new acquaintance from a completely different part of the world.
- The insanely great culinary combinations of cranberries and deep-fried camembert, dark chocolate and chilli, bacon and maple syrup, and yes, Marmite and raspberry jam on hot buttered toast.
- Schubert’s posthumously published Bb Piano Sonata (D-960), played here by one of my great musical heroes, Alfred Brendel. (Well, I could have chosen almost anything written by Schubert, actually). This one has a profoundly bitter-sweet joy, which is true of all life, n’est-ce pas?
OK, that’s my lot. What are some of yours?
Honourable (i.e. inevitable) mention
- Regulars know I need few excuses to mention U2 – but in this case it is perfectly legitimate and warranted. For amidst the 1000s of doom-merchant cynics and despairers on the contemporary music scene (which is not to doubt their brilliance or that I’m a fan of some of them), U2 is a rare bird indeed. They articulate and convey an unalloyed joy that is never sentimental or sarcastic. Just to give one hint of it: a single from their last album, which incongruously, is nothing short of being a psalm of praise