Happiness is. . .

Happiness is….well what, exactly. Is anybody ever truly happy? Do we even know what it means to be happy?

This is a question that I’ve been pondering quite a lot in the last month or so. As you will know if you’ve read my last few blog posts I’ve been very busy over the last three weeks. I’ve done lots of things that have been a lot of fun; I got to see lots of my friends, and favourite comedians and laughed until my tummy hurt. I got to see my two best friends get married and I got to hang out with my brother. 

All these things are good things, and things that make me happy. But these are just moments of happiness, amongst all this were other moments when I felt sad or annoyed or lonely or just not quite content with my situation or the world around me. Surely everyone feels like this though? Is there anyone out there who can say they are truly happy with everything about their life? And I suppose the question is, would you want to be? If you were happy with every aspect of your life then what would there be to aim for? In the words of the brilliant Oscar Hammerstein ‘You’ve got to have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you going to have a dream come true’. (On the subject of dreams and whether or not we should have them, you really should have a read of this blog by the lovely, and talented, Chasity Flyte). Perhaps you have to have the other moments, of feeling sad, or angry or just plain miserable, in order to appreciate the times when you really are happy.

So am I happy? I think so, most of the time. This time last year, I wasn’t happy with the way my life was going. I had a boring job, which more importantly, didn’t actually pay me enough to live on, I was fat, and it felt like my life was going nowhere. And that was when I decided to take the leap on to my teacher training course. It was probably one of the biggest decisions of my life and if I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure it was the right one. Only time, and experience of teaching in the real world is going to tell me that. But it’s going to give me the opportunity to move to London which I might not have had otherwise (or at least it would have been a lot more difficult), and at last, after 10 years of drifting along, I will actually have a career, rather than just a job. And fortunately, one that pays me enough and gives me enough time off to do all the other things that make me happy. And as regular readers will know, I’ve dealt with the being fat part too – although that is an ongoing challenge and will be for a long time to come. As I’ve said before, I knew that losing weight would make me happier, but I also knew it wasn’t the magic fix to all my problems. What losing weight does is mean that I can’t blame anything else on being fat, I have to deal with the root of the problem.

I love the little things in life that can make a person happy; for me it’s things like getting a compliment from a friend, or being told that I missed when I’m not there, or driving along singing as loud as I can to one of my favourite songs, or playing my ukulele, or reminiscing with my brother about stupid things we did when we were kids, or staying up late, drinking booze and watching action movies with my Dad, or more recently, being thanked by the kids at school when they realise I’m not going to be teaching them any more. These are all the things that make me happy. And of course there are the bigger things too, like being lucky enough to own my own flat and affording to live here, and having a family who are healthy, and having some great friends and all those other clichés. 

Then there are the things that make me mad; some of them little things, like my neighbour taking my parking space, or people cancelling on me at the last minute, or people who wander aimlessly down busy streets. And the bigger things like the fact that our country is going to hell in a hand cart and so many people don’t vote because they think it’s not their problem. Or the fact that children are being brought up to believe in gods that don’t exist (if adults want to believe then that’s entirely up to them, but it makes me so mad that so many children aren’t given a choice). 

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I don’t think anyone can say, with utmost certainty, ‘I am happy’. We need all the crappy stuff to balance it out. And that’s what it is about; balance. I’m sure someone has come up with an equation, but I reckon if I’m happy 75% of the time, I’m taking that one as a win. I’d be really interested to hear what other people think about this… Are you happy? What do you think happiness is? And can anyone ever really be happy all the time?

Adventures in space and time: Part 1

OK, just a quick disclaimer to begin; I’m writing this blog on my phone so I’m going to try and keep it brief but I wanted to do a quick update on my adventures so far before I start to forget it all.

The fun started on Thursday night when I went to see Derren Brown at the Edinburgh Playhouse with my friends Claire and Dave (the ones who are getting married at the weekend). We had booked the tickets ages ago so despite being a fairly expensive £30 each, it was almost like it was free! I love booking things a long time in advance to achieve this effect. I’ve seen quite a few of the things Derren has done on TV and I had had lots of recommendations from people who had seen the show so I was really looking forward to it. And I was sat on the end of the third row in the stalls so I was secretly hoping I might get picked to do something, but no such luck. The show was predictably brilliant, especially the last 15 minutes. After the show I set off on my journey south (to get to London the next day) and spent most of the drive just thinking ‘but how did he do that?!’.

On Friday I set off from the Days Inn at Abington Services on the M74 (I really was living the dream) and drove down to Wolverhampton where I left my car and got a train into London. It sounds complicated but it really was the most sensible way of doing the journey.

After managing to resist the Krispy Creme doughnuts at Euston station and checking into my hotel I headed further south to the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell for An Event of Some Kind, hosted by the Junior Ministers. This was the second AEOSK that I had been to and I was delighted I’d managed to make it to this 1st birthday special, and that so many of my friends were there too. After an introduction by Junior Ministers themselves the first act of the night was Pippa Evans as her alter ego Loretta Maine, a trailer trash, drinking, swearing singer. I loved the character Pippa has created, both the songs and stand up hitting the nail right on its comedy head, and I hope I have a chance to see more of her work soon.

Next up was Australian singer songwriter Emi Green, accompanied by Noisy Fred on guitar. Emi has a great bluesy voice and I really enjoyed her short set.

Following some flip chart based fun from H Anthony of the Junior Ministers, the second half was brought to a rousing close by 6 Day Riot. This four piece play fantastic folky, uplifting tunes and they were one of the main reasons I has made the trip. I’ve seen 6 Day Riot live once before and own both their albums and after the previews of some new songs we got on Friday I can’t wait to get hold of their third album which will be released in June. Not only do the produce great tunes but Tamara who fronts the band is possibly one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever met, and one of the reasons I started playing ukulele!

The second half brought another great set from Emi Green, more from Junior Ministers and then the man that a lot of the audience had come to see, one Mr Tim Minchin. Now Tim is able to fill theatres and concert halls when he tours the chance to see him performing in the back room of a pub in South London doesn’t come around very often. It was lovely to see Tim having so much fun with the audience and we were treated to the Easter Song, which he wrote 12 years ago before he ‘thought anyone would listen’ to his music. We then had The Good Book; continuing on the God theme, and finally a rendition of the beat poem Mitsubishi Colt backed by Ed and Dan of 6 Day Riot on double bass and drums. It really was a whole heap of fun!

The evening unfortunately had to come to an end at some point but not before another set from 6 Day Riot, which had the whole audience singing along. Tim then joined Tamara on stage for an acoustic cover of the Crowded House song Four Seasons In One Day which was a joy (and demonstrated Mr Minchin’s guitar playing skills which we don’t often see) and last but by no means least all the acts from the evening joined Junior Ministers on stage for a riotous performance of their wonderful song Bounce.

It really was a great evening at this lovely, friendly gig, made even better by the company of friends who don’t manage to all be in the same place at the same time often enough. Everyone hung around for a drunk after the gig and we got a chance for a quick chat with Tim which doesn’t happen very often these days. He even offered to write a song for me! I was saying I was looking at new cars and had seriously considered a Mitsubishi Colt, but then decided it would just make me laugh too much so Tim offered to write me a song about whatever car I wanted to buy! Now that would be something.

The night ended with a trip on a night bus, which is never much fun, especially when you miss the stop because you are so engrossed in conversation. Thanks must go again to Kate, who seems to have become my resident night bus guru.

On Saturday I ran the gauntlet of Krispy Kreme temptation again to get the train back to Wolverhampton where I picked up my car then drove to to campsite where my mum and dad were already staying. And that’s where I am now, sat in a caravan where there is no mobile signal, but magically is WiFi. And that’s pretty much my adventures so far. Another couple of days here, back to London to meet up with some other Precious Little podophiles for Los Quattros Cvnts with The Trap and Michael Legge, then back to Shropshire for wedding fun. Blimey, it’s proving to be one hell of an Easter Holiday!