Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: bbc, contentment, geese, goose, happiness, michel de montaigne, radio 4, weather
Actually, this isn’t really about goose poo, although it might have done if my lunchtime snooze in St James’ Park had gone wrong.
It’s September 22nd and the sun is shining on central London. Until August this little island off the north west coast of Europe was having a blessed summer. Then I got married. August was rubbish. Autumnal and spiteful. And now we are nearing the end of September and it must be around 25 degrees out there – hence the lunchtime snooze and the concern about goose poo.
I have frequent discussions about the weather with Mrs Monkeysized. She is of the opinion that everything needs to be perfect all the time; anything less is a cause for complaint. She is, after all, Italian, and therefore overly demanding when it comes to sunshine (she also relishes complaining). I’m from the blowy north east of England and therefore slightly more tolerant of the capricious turns that the weather takes. For me, coping with what one doesn’t necessarily want is also a skill that is useful in appreciating life.
On the way back from the park I listened to an interesting edition of BBC radio 4’s ‘Great Lives’, looking at the life of Michel de Montaigne.
He seemed an impressively balanced chap, who relished have enormously painful bladder stones because it allowed him to appreciate the moments that he was pain free more fully. This from Sarah Bakewell, the expert on the programme:
“…his general feeling that one was happier in a somewhat imperfect condition, because if we expect everything to be perfect then life was going to fall short of that and we’re going to lament that we haven’t got what we want… If you adjust to a less than perfect state of affairs it actually releases an enormous pressure off you and it allows you to enjoy what you do have. And again, it’s about putting things in perspective. It’s about not expecting life on earth to be heaven, but just the messy, ordinary, flawed, imprecise, imperfect business that life actually is.”
I enjoyed the sun in the knowledge that it was an unexpected and temporary gift. And when I got up, I was delighted not to have an arm that smelled of goose poo. On Saturday I’ll go to watch Middlesbrough taking on Watford, pleased that even if I were a multi-millionaire I would still be doing exactly the same thing, no matter how badly they play. And it’ll probably be raining.
Mrs Monkeysized, take note!
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: guardian, poker, umbrellas, victoria coren, weather
I’ve never been a particular fan of Victoria Coren – I was at university with her and was dimly aware that she was one of those annoying people who knew what she wanted and then went and did it, with little more than a famous name and talent. Annoying stuff.
She even proved that poker can be a game for sticking with it, playing quite well and hoping one’s luck changes. When she used to take part in Channel Four’s poker games I can’t say I ever thought her insightful. But now, blow me, she’s won some stack of money somewhere and that can’t be faulted. And some of her Guardian columns show that she’s really rather decent these days.
So what do I think now? Well I spotted a quote from her that makes me rather favourable towards the old girl. It’s either very monkeysized, very English, or both. And the latter isn’t such a bad place to be, is it?
I like the fact that the weather forecast is always wrong. In a world of BlackBerry insta-connection, Google research and Hadron Colliders, it is a daily reminder of the ultimate ignorance of man. It is a signpost towards all the enormous things we cannot understand. This is healthy. It’s humbling. We watch the news, up-to-the-minute developments beamed right into our living rooms, and we take for granted that we see digital images of everything that’s happening in Korea RIGHT THIS SECOND. Aren’t we the cat’s pyjamas? Then the weather comes on and a man in an odd jumper tells you that it’s going to rain when it probably isn’t. This is good for us.
The original piece was in the Observer. And reading it again, the mention that this pain is actually rather healthy makes me certain that it is at least 60% English, 40% monkeysized.