Watching or reading the news can be a gruelling task nowadays. I’m not proud to say that most of the time I just can’t face it. The world is such a disappointing and upsetting place. That’s why this blog shall always be firmly rooted in the safer sphere of sport, where the rules are (mostly) followed and the dramas are of a less significant nature. “Glorious frivolities” Brough Scott once said, and I think he got it right. Even some sporting stars have concurred when questioned about a poor performance or a lost match: “Nobody died.” Yeah, fair point, especially in the aftermath of recent events.
Whatever your religion, Christmas seems like an appropriate moment to look back and take stock. It may seem disrespectful to rejoice in the trivialities of life when there is so much misery and tragedy elsewhere, but I would argue that is precisely why it is important to do so. If we are not careful the canvas becomes dominated by darkness, and without just the small blob of colour there is no contrast or perspective.
Sometimes I wonder what young people in general, and my two boys in particular, think about this strange world they have been thrust into. Does each new atrocity or disaster make them fearful to step outside the door? It seems not. Do they realise how lucky they are to live in a society where they can express their freedoms? They seem to, and I truly hope they continue to.
So this festive season I humbly offer up my five reasons to rejoice. Some of them may seem so small as to be insignificant specks in the composition, but in enough numbers they will have an impact and spread the light.
5) Sellotape – an apt time of year to celebrate the brilliance of this humble item. It can sit mutely for months, never once throwing an attention-seeking wobbly like its more technical household cousins, and yet when it is called into action it responds instantly and reliably (unlike the computer it sits next to on my desk). Really, if everything in life worked as well as sellotape, the world would be a better place. (The author has not been paid for his endorsement of this product, and he cannot guarantee that every roll of sellotape will perform as well as his.)
4) Music – Ours is not a musical house. Guitar, piano and drums collect dust as mementos of worthwhile intentions, and the radio or sound system rarely ply their trade. Silence is a rare commodity in the modern world, and one that is treasured in our family. Yet I would find the world a barren and hollow place without music. Occasionally, it can transport us to a joyful place of elation, nourish our soul, strip away the conformities that constrain us and allow us to dance, cry, or be utterly at peace.
3) Beans On Toast – with so much rich fare on offer in December, let us not forgot about this stalwart throughout the year. Baked beans are warming, filling, versatile and cheap. They’re also gluten-free, Vegan-friendly, and high in protein and fibre. I ask you, can you imagine a world without beans on toast? Can you? I’m asking you.
2) The Goodness Of People – with the cynicism that infects our media outlook it is easy to forget that most people are friendly, kind, well-meaning souls. This is true across the age spectrum (remember I was a teacher not so long ago and, really, most of the young people in this country are just fantastic) and in all walks of life. Try and remember that the next time you read the Daily Mail.
1) New Life – one of my closest friends shall next year hopefully become a father for the first time at the ripe old age of 45. Despite his eccentric and erratic approach to life, I know he shall make a fantastic job of it. Perhaps it is the creeping realisation of mortality that makes me feel joyous when I hear of births? I feel so fortunate to have experienced my own personal version of the renewal of the generations, and I hope my friend experiences much joy in his journey through fatherhood.
To anyone still reading this, well done. I sincerely wish you a safe, healthy and happy Christmas.