Drinking in the culture of contentment

Nothing tempts Fate to kick you where it hurts more than the admission that you're all right, Jack

Share

Am I, I ask myself, staring quizzically at the palm tree on the horizon, dissatisfied with my lifestyle?

Am I, I ask myself, staring quizzically at the palm tree on the horizon, dissatisfied with my lifestyle?

The only item of news to make page one of the local British Virgin Islands press last week was the result of an internet survey claiming that 79 per cent of Brits are dissatisfied with their lifestyle. Since the majority of Net users are twenty-something males, I'm not sure how much credence you can give to internet surveys. But even if you believe only half what you read, it still adds up to an awful of lot of unhappy people. Right now I'm as happy as anyone, sailing the Caribbean in a small yacht with a bronzed six-foot-five skipper, a cook who serves up three cordon bleu meals a day, and an unlimited supply of gin, is entitled to be.

"OK," says the genie emerging unsteadily from the gin bottle. "You've hit the jackpot, you can stay here forever." No more depressing British winters, traffic jams, EU regulations, NHS waiting lists, DIY superstores, Spice Girl scandals - it's certainly tempting.

"Well," says the genie impatiently, "make up your mind, I haven't got all day. Heaven knows I've enough on my plate keeping this bottle sorted." "What's the problem?" I said. "Living in a permanently full gin bottle sounds like heaven to me." "You've got to be joking,'' snorts the genie. "It may look all right from the outside, but it's a dump. No cupboard space, no wipe-down work surfaces, nowhere for the kids to play."

The sad truth is that 79 per cent of people, British people (English speaking genies included), questioned about anything, will complain about something. The remaining 21 per cent do something about it. Like, for instance, the London cabby who gave me a free ride the other day. There was £13.70 on the meter, but he said: "Have this one on me." "Thanks," I said picking myself up. "But why?" Because I was his last ride, he said. He was retiring the next day. "Aren't you a bit young to retire?" I said. He looked about 30. "I'm 34," he said, and told me his life story, which would have made David Copperfield weep, until he got to the bit where he sells his crippled grandmother's house off the Mile End Road to a property developer, thus enabling him to dispense with British weather and the rat race for ever, and retire to a small hacienda in the Costa del Sol to play golf for the rest of his natural life.

What happened to the crippled grandmother? I asked. He said blankly. "Oh, her. Don't worry, she's well sorted."

And so am I, which is why, refreshed and relaxed, I'm ready to leave the boat in The Moorings at Tortola tomorrow and fly home to rejoin the minority of Brits who appear to be satisfied with their circumstances, or at least satisfied enough not to start whingeing when the woman with the clipboard stops them outside the supermarket. No, that's wrong. Nowadays, real people don't feature on the internet. A cartoon graphic of a clipboard woman halfway between Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson (something to please everyone) pops up in a lifestyle chat room and asks: "Do you feel: a) exhilarated; b) dissatisfied; c) satisfied; d) hacked off with your current lifestyle?

And 79 per cent of the people happily discussing woks or where to get colonic irrigation in Cheshire break off to tick b). I'd tick c). No I wouldn't. Nothing tempts Fate to kick you hard where it hurts most quicker than the admission that you're all right Jack. I've probably blown it already.

Yesterday we sailed round the small rocky island in Dead Man's Bay, where, legend has it, the notorious pirate Captain Blackbeard marooned 15 unfortunate seamen with nothing but a single bottle of rum between them. They didn't complain. They drank the rum, sang Yo Ho Ho a few times, swam to the mainland, sold the international publishing rights to a song called "Fifteen Men On A Dead Man's Chest" and with the proceeds bought attractive retirement homes with wipe-down work surfaces and cupboard space in Penzance, where 21 per cent of their descendants are still, as far as I know, living without complaint.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home