As the world slides as inexorably into 2021 as a politician down a lie chute, hundreds of a reader has emailed to ask: How do you remain so cheerful in the face of all this? Are you just stupid, or what?
Well, Doris, as all this that I’ve been in the face of and. lets be frank here, frequently round the other end of, daily, for ten years or so, has been slightly ameliorised, after each awfulness by a simple technique called The Gratitude List.
To remain optimistic, other than simply not having a full grasp on the facts, a positive attitude is maintained by a nightly listing of all that has been good in the day and finding at least one small something to be grateful for. On occasion this has been a simple giving of thanks, that wiping one’s nose in a public place did not cause a bogey to be dragged from a nostril on to a cheek, or worse, round by the ear to get tangled in the hair. Yes, some days have been pretty awful.
Talking of which, face masks! Yes, dear, under that mask you can have anything. In the same way that waterfall cardigans have been a gift to the wide-arsed, a mask has been the best chum of any post-menopausal sweetheart with a handlebar moustache. Sixteen with spots, eighteen with acne, any age you like with terrible teeth. Which, as the young substitute dentist was keen to reassure me, and charge large amounts for the advice, cannot be fixed, currently, for fear of endangering the head to toe plastic-clad dentist. So that’s everyone’s teeth having a holiday, then. Let’s be grateful for that, and, of course, what a saving on lipstick, blemish concealer and carefully matched foundation. I could have thread-thin pale dead lips, rampant upper lip cellulite, a chin receding well past last Thursday and blotchy orange and green tinged skin and you will never know.
This surrounding the only known Christmas when you could really and truly do what you liked. Mince pies and sherry at half past eleven in the morning in your pyjamas while watching chat show reruns and falling asleep until three o clock with your head back snoring? And not one single elderly auntie to tut? No relative you don’t like giving you socks you don’t want? Magic! And no stupid crackers. What a waste of money they are!
Either of these can go on your list tonight.
Long ago, when my widowed father-in-law remarried, although I did not of course, know the bride’s family, as I’d only just met them, there was a female of a certain hat present who looked suspicious from the off. The hat, a type very favoured in the fifties, but appearing not only new, in the eighties, but bought for the occasion, was self-important in and of itself. It was a maroon velvet in a twirled-up turban style, perched on a iron grey, rigid perm, but with lateral movement on each shake of the head. The owner of the hat and head was seated alone at the end of a pew, which was odd.
At the time I was very occupied in being mother to the S&H who was seven. So I may have missed the warning signs. After the ‘I do’s’ the bride and groom shuffled into a side room to do signing, shutting the door loudly behind them and, without further ado, the hat owner hurled herself into the aisle and began singing, vibrato, without accompaniment ‘This is my lovely daaaay (wobble hat, wobble hat) This is the day I shall remember the day I’m dyyyyyyying (wobble hat wobble hat) Yooooooooooo can’t take this away etc etc etc
And then she sat down equally abruptly and the bride and groom, who had escaped to another room, out of earshot, returned.
I did not laugh until they had done the photos and we were back in our own car.
And it is that which I am endlessly grateful for. Neither did I wet myself or choke.
Such a mercy.
Because there were several school serious services where I had to be lead out, snotty and choking, in fact it was a regular occurrence and I’m sure I have told you that I was drummed out of the Brownies for laughing at a flying up ceremony. At this momentous occasion, the Brownie, about to be Girl Guided, ran round the plastic grass on which was placed the cardboard toadstool (ours had actual sticking plasters), flapping her arms and then into the circle of girl guides, giving a little jump over the arms of the guides that were linked and lowered for the jumping.
I laughed so much I became hysterical and had to be lead outside into the fresh air, for my own good.
Oh yes, the gratitude list. Just the thing to send you off to sleep laughing.
More later but feel free to email by clicking the link below and tell me yours.