It was Mark Twain who said: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This splendidly world-weary, knowing pearl of homespun philosophy is one I've brought to mind many times down the years as I arrange a particularly tricky meeting in the earliest possible slot.
It was especially pertinent yesterday as I walked to the dentist before many of you will have greeted the day. It's not that I suffer from odontophobia, it's just that had someone offered me a live frog with a side order of scrambled eggs, I might just have taken it instead. (And that was before my glasses broke, and my phone ran out of juice.) But then I thought about the poor hygienist.
It was all very well for me. I just had to lie there with my mouth open until all the blood drained from my hands from gripping the arms ofthe chair so tightly. But the hygienist, who'd already had a trying time getting her kids off to school before tackling the rush-hour Tube, had to begin her day by rooting around in my mouth. Just imagine that. All that poking and probing and brushing. All that getting in deep and removing the debris. And they're someone else's teeth!
So not only did I think that the day could only get better, it also made me feel less like complaining about my lot. Someone has always got it worse than you. Sir Paul McCartney, for instance. There he was yesterday, belly-aching about how difficult his multi-millionaire lifestyle is. "It has never been as hard as itis nowadays to be famous," he is reported to have said. He points to the advent of mobile-phone cameras, saying that he is pestered for a picture every few seconds, even when he is having a quiet night out with the missus.
People just don't understand how irritating this is, says Macca. "That sometimes causes unpleasant scenes," he adds. (I assume he doesn't mean his breaking into an impromptu rendition of "Mull Of Kintyre".) Anyway Paul, the hygienist and I feel your pain.
Many years ago, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, under the guise of everymen Derek and Clive, performed a superb satire on people complaining about their jobs. Each tried to outdo the other in terms of the depths to which they were forced to stoop to earn a living. Through various disgusting scenarios (it says something for the cutting edge nature of the Derek and Clive recordings that even now, 36 years later, they still have the power to shock), they arrive at the conclusion that the worst job they ever had was picking up Winston Churchill's bogeys.
Now there's something to conjure with first thing in the morning. I'm sure you're not reading this newspaper while partaking of frog, and in any case, I imagine that i readers lead peaceful, serene lives, but if you've been forced to contemplate Winston Churchill picking his nose over your breakfast, the day can surely only get better.