Susie Rushton: My personal cheerfulness strategy

Urban Notebook: A five-point plan to keep the spirits afloat

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The bad mood, and boy was it gloomy, began last week while I was basting a chicken. I'm not much of a cook, and as I turned over the sizzling bird, the roasting tray slipped forward and 220 celsius of Teflon, finding a slither of naked flesh between t-shirt and jeans, singed a furiously red horizontal line across my stomach. The resulting blister hurt like hell – but what really rankled was the realisation that I'd have a scar resembling a C-section incision. That night, no amount of ice or Acriflex could comfort my burned vanity and over the following days, pain ripened into simmering irritation, which was in turn worsened by external factors: the economy is putrefying and we're all done for; McCain's four point lead; Maestro has finished.

Then I saw an article in a Sunday paper asserting that "neurosis and anxiety" were essentially feminine traits. Call me neurotic, but I find nothing to be more of a motivator than that the discovery you're trapped within the stereotype of a "scientific study".

So yesterday I constructed a personal cheerfulness strategy, a low-cost five-point plan to keep the spirit afloat, at least until the weekend. Alitalia stewards and Lehman bankers, feel free to join in, too. (1) Look up at the sky. It's almost sunny in London and not yet cold enough to switch on the central heating. (2) The American comedian Tina Fey has landed the first punch on Sarah Palin; watch, and re-watch the Saturday Night Live clip at nbc.com (3) Chow down on junk along with everybody else; only 12 per cent of us are bothering to eat the five-a-day dose of fruit and vegetables, a new study shows. Hard times call for the healing power of carbs, red meat and butter. (4) Hold off on visiting the Tate's Bacon/Rothko double header, and keep entertainment light. Tropic Thunder opens this Friday, Quantum of Solace next month; SingStar Abba is out for Christmas. (5) Keep your head above water, and swim. As any psychologist will tell you, front crawl is a very effective way to deal with that sinking feeling. Just don't expect me to wear a bikini.

Good as gold

Good news from the luxury-goods temples of the West End, where brash baubles like Vertu's £32,000 phone, pictured, and Asprey's £2,200 Python Darcy bag have no shortage of takers. The big spenders, say researchers, are oil-rich tourists, particularly UAE citizens (no surprise to Man City fans), whose purchases were up by a startling 86 per cent this summer. According to the money-market experts, gold is the safest investment right now. I'd also tip Swarovski crystals, Louis Vuitton and gilt-edged snakeskin.

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