Letter from Simon Kelner: The little things that put a smile on our face ... or not

 

Share
Related Topics

 

Did you spot, over the weekend, one of those slightly spurious surveys which purports to tell us a truth about ourselves, but boils down to little more than a statement of the obvious?

You know the sort of thing: research shows that teenagers have a small attention span, or that dogs get depressed when their owners go on holiday. I know. Who'd have thought it?

Anyway, this study, commissioned by a drinks company, has come up with a list of the top 30 things that make us happy. These are not the big things, like the discovery of a cure for cancer or an end to global poverty. We are talking here about happiness on a smaller scale: for instance, winning £10 on the lottery (I thought most people set their sights a little higher, but there we are), waking up on a Saturday morning and realising it's the weekend (I must admit I have never found that a particularly difficult connection to make) or seeing an elderly couple holding hands (on the contrary, I'd rather see them arguing like cat and dog, proving that passion is still alive).

There are lots of obvious and prosaic things on the list, like a romantic night out (not in, for some reason), chocolate, sunshine, getting a nice message from your loved one and being promoted.

Another result from this poll was that the average person is only happy for half the week. So why don't they ask what goes on the rest of the time?

This started me thinking about compiling an unhappy list. I eschewed the opposites of the happy list – like rain, or getting a nasty message from your loved one – and went for a more esoteric catalogue of modern world pet hates. Like going to the self-service check-out at a supermarket and constantly hearing "unexpected item in bagging area"; or hearing people talk like they're in an episode of The Apprentice with the over-use, and indeed misuse, of idiom – in the past few days I have encountered "backing me to the hill" and "nailing it on the head"; or the over-sharing of announcers on most modes of public transport; or the excessive packaging of many grocery items, especially posh tea bags; or restaurants that add a service charge and then invite you to leave a further tip on the credit card receipt; or the background noises of domestic life, whether it's the persistent bleeping of electrical devices or the constant middle-class voices of Radio 4.

I could go on, but that would make me sound like a proper curmudgeon, or at least Daily Telegraph letter writer. In any case, I hear you say, no one asked my opinion. But that's only because the pollsters haven't reached me yet!

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football match in Liverpool  

It's been 100 years since the Christmas Truce, but football is still changing the world

Jim Murphy and Dan Jarvis
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there