Back in the 1970s, English pop singer Ian Dury made a lengthy list of things that created a sense of well-being, his Reasons to be Cheerful included:
Some of Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good Golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley, add nanny goats.
Eighteen-wheeler Scammels, Domineker camels
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy
Being rather silly and porridge oats.
Dury’s song seemed odd at the time. Why would anyone be cheerful about such small things? The passing years have taught their importance; the power of small things to change a day.
As an overwhelming bleakness fills the daily news bulletins, there seems an increasing need to find moments of cheer in the ordinariness of routines.
What reasons are there to be cheerful? Can one find a list as random as that of Ian Dury?
Today began with a sharp frost, de-icer was needed to clear the windscreen, but in the brilliant light and clear air there was a sense that it was a good day to be alive.
The roads are now so quiet that a journey that took fifty minutes on Monday morning was completed in thirty-five minutes today.
Arriving at school before any door had been unlocked, I sat on a bench overlooking the sports field and breathed in the cold air. Looking up at Cleeve Hill, I remembered holidays spent with an uncle, aunt and cousins at Bishop’s Cleeve. Fifty years ago, I would have played in Pittville Park, across the road from the school gates. If I were searching for a place filled with happy memories, then the places a handful of square miles from this bench would possess many.
What would I put on my list of reasons to be cheerful today?
A reason to travel when so many are confined to their own places.
A secure job with a guaranteed salary in times of economic insecurity.
The privilege of working in a school still controlled by a local authority where children and their education come before the data and the business models used in the academies.
Students from every imaginable background who blend together to create a special atmosphere.
A classroom where I can just stand and look out at the hills and enjoy the stillness of the day before the voices of the first arrivals are heard.
The conversations, questions, laughter and smiles of an ordinary day.
Not a list that would make good song lyrics.