Reasons to be happy

I was feeling a bit down recently, so I started to think about everything that made me happy. And I came up with this no doubt incomplete list.

  • Toasted cheese suppers
  • Convivial conversation with friends over drinks
  • Curling up in my favourite armchair, whisky in hand, reading Sherlock Holmes stories
  • Branches swaying in the wind
  • Mozart’s piano concertos, Schubert’s chamber music, & Verdi’s “Falstaff”
  • A train journey through the countryside – just staring out of the window
  • Waking up early in the morning, and turning over to go back to sleep again
  • Snow
  • Pompous arses on television looking serious and spouting shite
  • Film noir
  • Seeing small children with happy faces come out of the Natural History Museum, and realising that not even the most sophisticated of gadgets will ever replace the plastic dinosaur
  • Books by bearded Russian writers. (And by Pushkin & Gogol, who unaccountably didn’t have beards. Although Pushkin’s sideburns were spectacular, I grant you.)
  • Autumn leaves
  • Smutty schoolboy jokes
  • Browsing in second-hand bookshops
  • Hammer horror films
  • People saying “thank you” to bus drivers
  • Those Proustian moments when your younger days return vividly to mind, and you remember what a prat you were
  • Watching University Challenge with daughter, & answering more questions than her
  • Laurel & Hardy
  • Winter light. (That is, the light you get in winter, not the Ingmar Bergman film with that title. I mean, I do like Bergman, but I can’t say his films make me very happy.)
  • The lady I saw a few weeks ago reading Paradise Lost on the commuter train
  • Sitting on a park bench watching clouds drift past & doing bugger all
  • Gothic cathedrals
  • The howling of wind outside on gusty nights
  • Shakespeare
  • Memories of the 1982 Brazil football team
  • Fermat’s theorem (not his last) that all prime numbers that can be expressed as 4N+1 (where N is integer) can also be expressed as a sum of two squares
  • Reading ghost stories in bed at night
  • Ella Fitzgerald singing Cole Porter
  • My library
  • Spectacular thunderstorms
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Getting old, and not having to worry any more about keeping up with things
  • Repeats of Dad’s Army on television
  • Aimless rambles through the streets of London
  • Opera broadcasts in cinemas
  • Movie stars recommending you take coffee up the arse
  • Rabindrasangeet
  • Sitting by a blazing open fire in my local during winter months
  • National Gallery, London
  • A good biryani
  • That feeling of satisfaction you get when you put up what you think is a good blog post. (Somehow, I don’t think I’ll get that feeling with this one…)
  • Serious drama. ‘Cos you generally need a good, stiff whisky afterwards.
  • The Scottish Highlands
  • Looney Tunes cartoons
  • The unshakable belief that there will be garden furniture in heaven
  • Getting drunk and talking too much
  • Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
  • Gammon and Spinach

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Linda Stormonth on September 25, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Well, it all sounded so good I was going to suggest I come round to yours tonight till I realised you had left CAKE off the list.


    • Sadly, I am diabetic, and cake is out of bounds for me. However, I am sure cake can be provided. As General Sternwood says in The Big Sleep, “it’s a fine thing when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy!”


      • Posted by Linda Stormonth on September 25, 2018 at 1:28 pm

        That is understandable. I did wonder how someone brought up in Scotland could leave a “fancy piece” off a comfort list. All is forgiven!

      • Posted by caromalc on September 26, 2018 at 10:50 pm

        Well, I am diabetic too, but that doesn’t stop me having sugar in my coffee. I am fortunate in being born without a sweet tooth, so not having cake is no hardship for me, though I will be having a little bit of cake tonight, since it is bookclub night and I am serving fruitcake. I have enough medication that it keeps my diabetes in check and despite me having sugar in my coffee and fruit, my blood sugars are low.

  2. LOL! Wonderful list – everyone’s would be different, but when you start spelling it out to yourself, there really are lots of things that make life worth living!


  3. I needed this today. Thank you.
    As I read, some of your items brought a smile to my face too. A Christmas Carol was definitely one of them.


  4. Posted by Chris Lyon on September 25, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    I would concur with about 90% of your list, maybe slightly more if I could substitute something more to my taste for the whisky. I do, however, have to take issue with you on the matter of the celestial garden furniture. I have it on very good authority – Charles Trenet, no less – that this is quite unnecessary, or, as he puts it, ‘Et le bon Dieu dit boum,/ Dans son fauteuil de nuages’. Who needs garden chairs when they can lounge around all day on fluffy clouds?


  5. I’m disappointed that you mentioned Bergman but Bergman’s not actually on the list.
    I feel cheated.


  6. I like your list. Please add:
    – the fresh air in Maine
    – ripe peaches in season
    – my brother’s emails


  7. Posted by Barbara Scott on September 25, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    You have a great list! I was particularly impressed with good biriyani and Gothic cathedrals, because they’d be very high on my own list. And a personal library; I’m sticking with my paper library in spite of encouragement to go digital.
    I’d add sunny fall days in Ontario to my list – crisp air, colourful trees, intense blue sky. You can go for a walk on days like this and get high without drugs. A glass of red wine afterwards finishes it off nicely.


    • Yes, I’m sticking with the paper library too. I love holding a physical book in my hands, and I think I am too old to change!

      I’m afraid there aren’t too many sunny, crisp days in this time of the year near London. But yes, a good red wine does indeed go down very well!


      • Posted by Chris Lyon on September 25, 2018 at 5:41 pm

        It really isn’t an either, or situation – or do we now have to call it a binary choice? My paper library is as dear to me as ever and I continue to add to it, even though I am far from having read everything even once, let alone the numerous times many of the books I own obviously deserve. But I also love my Kindle, and the Kindle app which I have on both my phone and my iPad, for many reasons, the foremost being that I can read in bed at any hour with minimal risk of disturbing He Who Must Not Be Woken! Also, I can look up unknown words without having to find a dictionary and I can take a almost infinite choice of books away for holiday reading, with no worries about baggage allowance. Of course, I still pack ‘real’ books, but it is reassuring to know I always have something in reserve. I just love reading and will use whatever equipment gives me the opportunity to indulge!

  8. Posted by alan on September 25, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    I refuse to follow the coffee link.
    Is the second name of the star ‘Paltrow’ by any chance? I’m told she said something to the effect that every rolled eyeball translates to money in the bank.


  9. Great list Himadri, but I won’t pretend to understand the N4+1 part. Please add “big hugs from friends, old and new”. Me like hugs (said the child inside me)


    • Oh, I’m certainly with you on hugs from friends! Old and new!

      As for that Fermat thing, it really is thing of beauty. It makes you think that there may be some order in the universe after all.

      First of all, any positive whole number, no matter how big or small, can be expressed as a sum of 4 squares. For instance,

      135 = (9 squared) + (7 squared) + (2 squared) + (1 squared) = 81+49+4+1
      136 = (10 squared) + (6 squared) + (0 squared) + (0 squared) = 100+36+0+0
      137 = (10 squared) + (6 squared) + (1 squared) + (0 squared) = 100+36+1+0
      138 = (10 squared) + (6 squared) + (1 squared) + (1 squared) = 100+36+1+1
      139 = (11 squared) + (4 squared) + (1 squared) + (1 squared) = 121+16+1+1

      And so on. Any whole number at all, no matter how large or how small, and you can get it by summing up 4 squares.

      Now, consider only numbers that are prime. Which means it can be divided only by 1 and by itself. 35 isn’t prime, as it can be divided by 5 and 7; 36 isn’t prime, as it can be divided by 2, 3, 4, 6, 9 and 18. But 37 is prime, as it can only be divided by 1 and by 37 (i.e. itself).

      Now, consider those prime numbers that, once you take 1 away, can be divided by 4. The number 5, say: when you take 1 away, you get 4, which can be divided by 4. Or 13: once you take 1 away, you get 12, which you can divide by 4. Or 17: once you take 1 away, you get 16, which you can divide by 4. Or 37: once you take 1 away, you get 36, which you can divide by 4. Or, say, 137: once you take 1 away, you get 136, which you can divide by 4. And so on.

      These are all prime numbers, and these are also numbers where, if you take 1 away, you can divide by 4.

      Now, all of these numbers can be expressed as a sum of two squares. So:

      5 = (2 squared) + (1 squared) = 4+1
      13 = (3 squared) + (2 squared) = 9+4
      17 = (4 squared) + (1 squared) = 16+1
      29 = (5 squared) + (2 squared) = 25+4
      37 = (6 squared) + (1 squared) = 36+1
      41 = (5 squared) + (4 squared) = 25+16
      137 = (11 squared) + (4 squared) = 121+16

      And so on. It doesn’t matter how big or small the number is … this always holds. Now, isn’t that beautiful?


  10. We have a lot in common, it seems! Apart from Dad’s Army, that is. It’s good to remind yourself of all the little things that make you happy now and then. Right now we’re on vacation in Sardinia, and eating spaghetti-cozze-pecorino with a glass of Vermentino in Bar Bados makes me extremely happy 😊


    • That sounds terrific! I’ve never been to Sardinia, but my wife and I are both keen on the Mediterranean (we had a wonderful holiday in Sicily a few years ago). And then we made the discovery that if we holiday in the Champagne region, then the local plonk is … er, champagne! And we haven’t looked back since! 🙂


      • Haha, the champagne region sounds good too 🥂😉 I haven’t been to Sicily yet, but I’ve always been curious. I first came to Sardinia by chance, a good friend moved here, and now I visit at least once a year. Great food, fantastic wine, nice people and a stunning coast, not overcrowded with tourists, just perfect 😀

  11. Posted by sandra McGregor on October 4, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    I too visited Sardinia for the first time this year. Great food and great beaches.

    As someone who dreads long dark winter nights and seeks reasons to be cheerful, may I recommend for Autumn, mulled cider? We made (I nearly typed mead) some last weekend and it was lovely.


    • Hello Sandra,
      If you’re the Sandra McGregor I think you are, it’s good to see you here. (And even if you’re a different Sandra McGregor, it’s good to see you here!😀)

      Mulled cider in autumn sounds wonderful, but sadly, I’m on a low sugar diet, and try to keep away from drinks like cider. But like Major Sternwood in The Big Sleep, I can still enjoy my vices by proxy!

      All the best,


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