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Dabbler Diary – The Secret of Happiness

dabbler diary logoI have, at last, discovered the secret of happiness. You abolish Tuesday.

I have written about Tuesday before, elsewhere, and noted that it and I have had many meetings and no good has ever come of them. We go way back, to school. Term always began on a Tuesday and it bore all the worst lessons such as Double Latin or Craft with Muggsy* and all the worst dinners like the chicken supreme with the precise texture of snot.

Tuesday is much crueller than Monday. Monday is still in too much of a daze to really hurt you but Tuesday knows exactly what it’s doing and tells you what it’s going to do before it does it. Were you aware that virtually a seventh of your life consists of Tuesday? Or that 98% of dental appointments are on a Tuesday, or that the Royal Mail is required by law to deliver nothing on Tuesdays except utility bills and unpleasantly-surprising credit card statements?

Nobody ever saves a treat for Tuesday; you get your dullest meal of the week out of the way on it which is why all the takeaways are closed. Saturday bursts into the room with a tray of bacon butties and a crate of beers and Friday is a genial sort but Tuesday is a flinty-eyed former Inspector of Taxes with a thin moustache and grey skin bent at a plain desk in a windowless office under a single electric bulb frowning at a loud clock which ticks at half-speed. It is well known that time moves twice as slowly on a Tuesday. Yet still we persist with it. Who knows why? This is how the world ends, fizzling out on a Tuesday afternoon.

And yet, since giving up office life and setting up on my own, I have discovered something incredible: it is perfectly possible to simply do away with Tuesday. Just ignore it, blot it out the calendar. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable life is, freed from the tyranny of having a visit from the toad Tuesday every single week of the year.

*Muggsy was a very fat man with a keen hatred of children who nonetheless decided to become a teacher

***

In a revelatory month, I think I might also have found the best live rock performance ever. It’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse at a big glitzy charity jamboree in honour of Bruce Springsteen from a few years ago, recently screened on Sky Arts.

Now I’m very much a Springsteen man but even I thought this gala tribute showbizzy smugfest was grotesquely sycophantic. The audience is all Sean Penn and his progressive millionaire pals, and various artistes like Sting and Mumford come on and perform very tasteful, very musical Bruce covers.

Neil Young, on the other hand, chooses Born in the USA – a song about being a jobless, homeless Vietnam vet – and does it exactly in the style of a jobless, homeless Vietnam vet: one who has never played a guitar or sung before. He even looks like one. It’s a fearful tuneless racket, and at the end, to the befuddlement of the millionaires, he shouts ‘Bruuuuuce’ over and over in a way that may or may not be satirical.

Sadly the official footage has been removed from Youtube, but this amateur video just enhances the punk brilliance.

***

Talking of punks: hooray! Charles Moore is back doing his weekly column in the Speccie. Very well, ‘punk’ may be pushing it, but nobody is more adept at sticking two fingers up to prevailing modes of thought and coming up with an angle showing that everyone is wrong about something, which is what the Speccie is for. There’s a good one here in which he questions an old chestnut from the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial

 [The] prosecutor Mervyn Griffith-Jones… famously asked the jury: ‘Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?’ For this he was much mocked. But the novel is about the behaviour of a wife (Lady Chatterley) with a servant (Mellors, the gamekeeper). Nine of the jury were men: surely Griffith-Jones was making the sort of joke he thought would appeal to them.

Rings much truer than the accepted story that Griffith-Jones was an unfeasibly out-of-touch snob, doesn’t it?

Moore then adds: 

It is, of course, fatal in English public life to make a joke.

The case of Sir Tim Hunt, forced out of his professional positions without trial for making what he says were “meant to be light hearted ironic remarks” is immensely dispiriting. Not so much because of the bullying and hysteria from Twitter prigs – that’s just an everyday function of Twitter and priggishness – but because the UCL listened to it and acted upon it.

Surely it was conclusively proven in the recent General Election that the alternative-reality concerns of people who use Twitter have nothing whatsoever to do with actual life, and can be safely ignored?

 ***

Andy Burnham is the Twitter-reality candidate for the Labour leadership – the kind who calls it ‘our NHS’. I’ve met nobody in actual human reality who refers to the health service thus (and I’ve been on the lookout because I’m keen to use Frank Key’s rejoinder and talk about ‘our Department for Work and Pensions’ and  ‘our Trident’).

Our NHS (‘RNHS’?), argues Douglas Murray here, has now become so dominant and untouchable an institution that it has filled the religious vacuum in modern Britain, and virtually every aspect of our lives – from what we put in our bodies to when we have children – can be morally evaluated by the extent to which we hinder or help the permanent crisis of NHS funding.

Murray writes:

An opt-in health insurance system allows you to take whatever risks you are willing to pay for with your own body, whereas the NHS gives everybody an interest in everybody else’s body. And without strong ethical or moral guidance from any other source this rampant utilitarianism becomes the dominant ethic in the land. It does seem to have some idea of a life well lived: a non-smoking, non-drinking fitness fanatic who starts a family in their most productive years and has the decency to die at just the moment when they risk taking out more money than they have put in.

It will keep the NHS in perpetual business, of course. And it may be that one day we will be able to produce a comprehensive budget breakdown for how to live the new ideal life. But this new more-than religion still leaves one noticeably gaping question: what is it all for?

It’s a convincing article. Yet as with all mad ideologies, the internal contradictions of RNHSism contain the seeds of its destruction. For it is patently obvious that those ‘enemies of the state’ who supposedly drain resources by drinking, smoking and getting fat actually do the precise opposite – and it is the healthy long-lived who will in the end finish off our NHS with their full set of blamelessly-accumulated non-fatal ailments. They will need their eyes, ears, hips, teeth, knees, rectums, lower backs, prostates and breasts constantly attended to before popping their clogs of cancer or a stroke or heart disease anyway. It cannot possibly work: we need a new religion.

***

On one recent Tuesday (before I’d had the good sense to abolish it), I set aside a few hours to build the girls’ flat-pack bunkbeds. I started at four in the afternoon, thinking to have plenty of time before it was tucking-in time. It took me two hours merely to dismantle and remove their old beds from the room. By midnight the girls were fast asleep on the sofa downstairs and I was a bloody, weeping, half-crazed mess of a man with a hammer in one hand and a bradawl in the other, swearing aimlessly. The great majority of the ‘manual labour’ I’ve ever had to do in my life has involved tapping at computer keys and making cups of tea, so my hands are basically those of the 16 year-old apprentice in his first week of job experience, before he becomes all calloused and gnarly. It took a week for the sores on my hands to heal from all the screwdriving.

But I got them built in the end and fine, solid, quality bunkbeds they are too – not even Ikea. A few nights later I came upstairs to check on the girls. One was asleep in a sort of soft toy nest in the landing. The other?  Curled up on the floor, snoring happily, next to the @!*&ing bunkbeds.

***

Well that’s it from me for today’s Diary. I won’t see you tomorrow because I’ll be doing something like watching the new Jurassic Park in 3D or eating Lebanese food or swimming or looking at Renaissance artworks, and you’ll still be having Tuesday. Suckers!

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About Author Profile: Brit

'Brit' is the blogging name of Andrew Nixon, a writer and publisher who lives in Bristol. He is the editor and co-founder of The Dabbler.

18 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – The Secret of Happiness

  1. Worm
    June 15, 2015 at 09:51

    “The Man who Ditched Tuesdays” would be a good book title

    the whole NHS as a religion thing is a major bugbear of mine – just one annoyance is people saying ‘They fixed my gran when she had an accident, I wont hear a bad thing said about them’ – as if it was unusual or special that someone should have received medical treatment that worked…surely thats the minimum that a national health service should be doing anyway??? It’s like saying ‘I went to Costa and they served me a hot coffee, I won’t hear a bad thing said about them’

    • Brit
      June 15, 2015 at 10:21

      RNHSism could actually quite easily be cured – the government could make health a cross-party concern and remove politicking from reform. If I was David Cameron I’d invite Andy Burnham to be Health Minister.

  2. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    malty
    June 15, 2015 at 09:58

    With what, one idly enquires, will one fill the void, that lost period, from 23.59.59 Monday night until 00.01 Wednesday morn and what, fool that I am for asking, will become of the Shrove. Moreover, what happens to that child’s grace. Additionally, what’s to be done about our looming fiftieth wedding anniversary, on, of all days, a Tuesday.

    • Brit
      June 15, 2015 at 10:17

      “With what… will one fill the void, that lost period, from 23.59.59 Monday night until 00.01 Wednesday morn?”

      With whatever you like of course! That’s the point… just don’t do Tuesday.

  3. nigeandrew@gmail.com'
    June 15, 2015 at 10:34

    Ah Brit, your description of flat-pack hell took me back. Every one of my encounters with the flat-pack world has been, to a greater or lesser extent, a nightmare – with one sole exception, and that exception was, incredibly, a bunk bed. It came with all parts present and correct, and instructions written in comprehensible English which, if followed in the prescribed order, actually led straight to the desired end result – a bunk bed, built with minimal sweat and toil, no blood, no tears and no sudden-onset Tourette\’s. I still wonder if I dreamt it – but no, the bed stood strong and sturdy for years. The make was Stompa. And now you\’re about to tell me that so was yours. If so, they must have gone downhill since those balmy days of the late 80s…

    • Brit
      June 15, 2015 at 10:55

      This was a Flexa, which I think might be Estonian like Stompa.

      Actually the instructions were pretty good – unlike Ikea they deigned to write some words next to the pictures. It was the sheer quantity of manual labour involved that was the problem. All sorts of things that Ikea would normally do for you, like drilling the holes in the bits of wood. Flexa virtually require you to chop your own tree down.

  4. markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
    Recusant
    June 15, 2015 at 11:03

    “I was a bloody, weeping, half-crazed mess of a man with a hammer in one hand and a bradawl in the other, swearing aimlessly.”

    Laugh? You’ve left me a tear-drenched and snot-bubbled idiot. It must be the pangs of recognition that does it: well, for everyone except Malty. He seems to be the only Dabbler who has had a ‘proper’ job, rather than being a mere trader in words.

    I like the Charles Moore as punk meme. He wouldn’t recognise it, but it fits our Tim Hunt, ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner and Rachel Dolezal world all too well. The new Gnostics are on the march and it’ll take some serious reactionaries being seriously reactionary to stop them.

    Anyway. Must dash. Got to right a letter to Our OFWAT.

  5. June 15, 2015 at 12:11

    Imagine a scenario in which Twitter is the only thing that survives from our current civilsation. Future historians would conclude that Labour lost the election because they weren’t left wing enough, at least one in four people are transgender and that Caitlin Moran wrote 12.7% of all tweets.

    I wonder what they’d make of a rusted allen key?

    • Brit
      June 15, 2015 at 16:12

      Also that Katie Hopkins and Owen Jones were the two most influential thinkers and opinion-formers of their day.

      • johngjobling@googlemail.com'
        malty
        June 15, 2015 at 16:29

        To gasps of horror (from me) Jonathan Miller, at last evening’s excellent Melrose Book Festival, made the following sweeping statement “had an interesting conversation last night with Gordon (Brown) and a bright young chap called Owen Jones,” both of whom were there pushing something or other. For goodness sake, the great Harris tweed jacketed one is one of my heroes.
        His name is now in the book, a line drawn horizontally through it.

        • markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
          Recusant
          June 15, 2015 at 16:48

          Malty, that line in the book has taken an awfully long time in coming. JM had his good moments, but none for forty years. All the good, however, should have been forgotten when placed up against his monumental self-regard, a capacity for hate allied with a thinness of skin that would make a Rizla jealous and all round pomposity. Part of me thinks he must be Stephen Fry’s father.

          • Brit
            June 15, 2015 at 16:54

            Malty’s book is legendary in my house.

            I often quote Malty’s line from ages ago (was it about Andrew Graham-Dixon?) when someone says something ridiculous:

            “Into the book his name will go and through it a line will be crossed.”

  6. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    malty
    June 15, 2015 at 16:16

    I have this nightmarish vision of hordes of British male persons, like the cast of Giorgio Vasari’s Vulcan’s Forge, minuscule instructions in one hand, minuscule fastener in the other, perplexed expression on face, legs akimbo like a Picasso de-constructed Parisian. The erection of the yellow and blue companies finest beyond their DIY data bank.

    Legend…..it took the average British manufacturer 10 mins to plan production and 50 mins to make the object. It took the average Japanese company 50 mins to plan production and 10 mins to make said object.

    Multiply the above objects by any large number you care to pluck out of the air.

  7. mnixon45@btinternet.com'
    Maureen Nixon
    June 16, 2015 at 11:23

    I must make a plea on behalf of Tuesdays, Brit. Something you seem to have overlooked is that you were born on Tuesday. Just think: no Brit, no Diary, perhaps no Dabbler. Life would be one long Tuesday!

    • markcfdbailey@gmail.com'
      Recusant
      June 16, 2015 at 12:54

      Called out by your mother! There is no higher authority; go to your room.

      • Brit
        June 16, 2015 at 17:18

        On the basis that Tuesday’s child is full of grace, I will.

  8. Gaw
    June 16, 2015 at 17:45

    Brit, what does Blogmanship recommend when you are pwned by your mum?

    Re Charles Moore being a punk – it makes even more sense when you recall Johnny Rotten’s (or was it Malcolm McLaren?) advice to ‘never trust a hippy’. So much conservatism compressed in those four words.

    • June 16, 2015 at 22:50

      As always in such situations I’ve consulted A.E.O. Stanhope’s seminal 12-volume Encyclopedia Blogmannica, which yields: “I’m afraid this one comes under the heading ‘Morecambe’s Mate’: There’s no answer to that.”

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