The Third Leader: Ode to joy

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The Independent Online

Is it me, or are happiness surveys coming round depressingly often? Bad news again, naturally: the Danes are still forging jollily on, the happiest nation around, as they have been, according to all these surveys, since at least 1973, while the Brits, as usual, are slouching along down table, complaining as usual, not surprisingly, given the state of the place, just look at it, even the Scots want out, but then it's been making them miserable since at least 1603.

The Danes? I wouldn't want to get into that tired stuff about the more northerly Europeans being dull, particularly as the other countries up there call them, a touch disapprovingly, a touch wistfully, "The Bohemians of Scandinavia". And they've produced Sandi Toksvig. And they all own a bicycle. And they have a high level of trust in their government.

Don't make me laugh. We're not like that. Your grandparents will be sad they are old enough to remember Mona Lott, the radio character who boosted morale most tremendously during the dark days with her incessant complaints ("It's being so cheerful as keeps me going").

Your parents, or perhaps even you, will remember, dolefully, one of our finest comedians, Les Dawson. Imagine asking Les if he was happy. And I know another Dane - as well as Hamlet - who would have agreed.

Soren Kierkegaard: "I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both."

Exactly. So can we have a happiness survey opt-out in future, please?