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What makes you happy?

I mostly do philosophical pro-voluntaryist, anti-state posts and this may come across as a bit curmudgeonly so I thought a post on what makes you happy.


For me it’s a myriad of things from a nice glass of wine or brandy or a good meal, an open fire in the cold winter, a pool on a hot summer’s day, the love of a beautiful woman, a good day’s cricket, an interesting book or idea, new places, enough cash, achieving goals, of course doing a million different things with my son, and also exercise.  For me this is currently cross country biking or the gym.


With regard to the latter, I don’t know if it’s a testosterone thing, but I don’t like many of the blokes who go to my gym.  This is probably a bit of the alpha male thing, a bit of a generational clash and certainly the fact that some of the younger ones are a bunch of tattooed, plucked-eyebrow, sun-bed addicted, muscle-vest steroid boys.  


With regard to my latter contention, I know the signs since I used to go to a full-on steroid gym in Cardiff in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and they were openly sold.  It’s that pumped-up look rather like having balloons under your skin and also on some of ‘em your sweat smells quite acrid.  That and you make substantial gains fast and you can do more or less anything in the gym and get big.


Now I’ve been hammering away at the weights for over twenty years now and whilst I won’t set any records, I have some fair totals in the power lifts*.  These are typically ignored by steroid boys who prefer a million bench presses and endless curls for T-shirt muscles. 


Anyway I was doing some dead lifts today and over comes eyebrow boy and his mate, tattoos akimbo.  “Will you be much longer with that mate?” and I couldn’t resist.  “Yes, but you are welcome to alternate with me on the bar if you like”


Well they could hardly wait to show-off and put an old bloke (I’m in my forties, they were early twenties I would say) like me to shame.  So chuckling but with no warm-up, eyebrow one approaches the bar and pulls on it.  It never moved.  So now stern he addresses it and heaves for all he is worth.  Veins appear, grimacing noises are made, all to no avail.  It’s not going anywhere.  So eyebrow two has a go with similar results.  I really had to try hard to suppress the smile. 


So if I may kitty counters, what’s made you happy recently?


(* namely Squat, bench press and dead lifts).


  1. The Jannie says:

    Yes, that’s fun, like blowing the local boy racers into the weeds when you’re old and grey and drive an old grey quiet and dirty diesel Xantia. They don’t like it up ‘em . . .

  2. RAB says:

    Oh a trillion things, and all the ones you’ve mentioned Single Acts, but on a daily basis, playing Frisbee in our local park with my bonkers dog (she usually catches it 9 times out of ten if I throw it right), a good book open, a can of beer and a fag, and all the children and their mum’s on their way to the playground thinking she’s amazing and wanting to cuddle her, which she is more than happy to allow.

  3. Furor Teutonicus says:

    Books, rum, and an open fire. Oh, and a Parker Knoll (If that how it is spelled. One of those chairs with the foot rests any way.)

  4. John Galt says:

    To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

    Alternately, beer. Beer is nice. Yes. Definitely.


  5. Longrider says:

    Returning to motorcycle training after a thirty-year break and realising that this was the career I was born for.

  6. Sam Duncan says:

    I can tell you what doesn’t: reading the magazine my old school sends out to FPs. Here’s the kind of stuff that’s in it:


    [Some Bloke] (200x*) was engaged to [Some Lass] in April at Base Camp, Everest.

    Seriously, that’s what it said. As if that kind of thing happened every day. And a guy who was in my class just finished the Mongol Rally, driving from London to Ulan Bator in a bloody Suzuki Swift. Of course, there’s also a reprint of Niall Ferguson’s Reith Lecture, now that he’s officially one of the 100 brainiest blokes in the world or something.

    How the hell do you keep up with the likes of that?

    You can’t, that’s how. Unless you are Ferguson, there’s nothing more guaranteed to leave you feeling profoundly depressed. I thought I was doing well getting into the top 500 on Forza Motorsport the other night.

    Bah. I don’t care. I’m happy being alone, skint, intermittently employed, and moderately good at videogames, so ner.

    No, not really.

    I don’t know… Kittens are nice. I am allergic to them, mind you.

    *They always print the year they left, as if they’d died.

  7. NickM says:

    Something I hate about Facebook is much the same… You get to put up a a passport size photo. Now, the funny thing is if you are my age (38) you get poked by people and a lot of these are women who are married, changed their surname and have kids and invariably they are photoed with hubby and kid(s). Now fair enough but I got poked by a girl called Jane. I hadn’t seen her for like 20 years and a titchy camerapone shot of her with hubby and kid was not much use. Certainly not seeing as “Jane” is not an uncommon name and with a crappy photograph and no surname…

  8. Single Acts of Tyranny says:

    @ SD

    “I can tell you what doesn’t: reading the magazine my old school sends out to FPs. Here’s the kind of stuff that’s in it:


    [Some Bloke] (200x*) was engaged to [Some Lass] in April at Base Camp, Everest”

    My old school doesn’t have an alumni magazine as far as I know. Presumably they think it pointless having taught so few of us to read. This is the great thing about going to an utter shit-hole school ~ no peer pressure whatsoever. If you avoided prison you were a shining light.

    But seriously Sam, what kind of ‘see you next tuesday’ needs the validation of former peers anyway? My old school don’t know a damn thing about me because I’ve never felt the need to tell ‘em.

    And don’t go back; there was once a young lady who I was very keen on as a teenager who I met again aged twenty-four. What a let-down. It’s the past, let Mr oxygen-deprived base-camp live in it.

  9. RAB says:

    I feel an anecdote coming on…

    A few years ago, oh maybe a decade or so, I was walking our old dog (no longer with us I’m afraid) in Heath Park in Cardiff. We were visting my mum for the weekend in the place I grew up, like we do frequently now. It was a bright sunny day and I was flipping a frisbee for dear old Holly, when HE hove in out of the sun. A classic fighter pilot dilemma, you hadn’t seen him coming and had no avenue of escape, and like Miss Moffet’s spider he sat right down beside me, and said… Hello Richard!

    It was Dicky the Griff, my old Headmaster! Trapped!!

    And do you know the first words out of my mouth? and I’m in my late 40s early fifties here, so ingrained was my conditioning… Er hello SIR! Not Richard, the same as mine, not Mr Griffiths, but Sir…

    Well we chatted for a while. He wanted to confirm what my A Levels where and who took me for them. “History, English Lit and Economics Mr Griffiths” ( I had loosened up a bit by then!)

    So who took you for Economics Richard? he asked…

    My mind was blank. I could only remember the schoolboy nicknames we had for our teachers, not their real names…. Incredibly shyly I said… Eggy sir…

    Oh mr Mansell-Jones, he’s still alive and living with his son in Australia he said…

    Christ what fools we schoolkids were, we thought we alone knew their nicknames, but they knew and revelled in them too!

    Well we chatted some more and I became less of a 13 year old and more like the adult I had become. Discussing politics and fellow pupils I was still in touch with and how my headmaster had viewed us and the situation that led to the school going Comprehensive from a Grammar School in my last year. He was all for it, and I couldn’t quite believe it, but when you grow up in the Socialist Paradise of South Wales in the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s and think having two chums whose parents were Marxist trade union officials is completely normal, well…

    Eggy by the way, was a diamond, one of those to forever cherish teachers that you loved, taught well and loved you back if you showed even a spark of understanding. He was nicknamed Eggy because he was completely bald, dressed in a tweed suit and seemed 108 years old when he probably wasn’t 60. He’d been a Commando in WW2 and had been shot to hell and stepped on a landmine, so most of him and especially his head was metal plates. No trendy Leftie he.

    He taught us very briefly, in A Level Economics, about the Austrian School. Well there were only 8 in the class and you were allowed to think for yourself doing A levels back then, and he was almost looking over his shoulder while he did it…

    This is real Economics boys! But Whatever you do don’t put a word of this in your A level papers, or they’ll fail you on the spot! He knew the cards were marked already. I loved that bloke, more than I can say about Dicky the Griff.

  10. Lynne says:

    Shooting clay – very cathartic. On good weather days happiness is me, my camera and my dog heading into the wild – providing I can afford the cost of filling up the Landy. The cost of fuel is very bad news these days and puts a serious crimp on any decent day out.

  11. bloke in spain says:

    You might like to know, your gym experience isn’t unique. There’s always a regular turnover of labourers but you like to keep the reliable ones & one of our stalwarts was a paddy in his late 50′s. This son of the emerald isle was about 5’6″, weighed around 8 stone & lived on a diet of grease, alcohol & Golden Virginia roll-ups. Couldn’t fault his work rate though. Give him a job to do & he just ground it down steadily until it was done. And knew a trick or two. Taught me to keep a bucket of water with a drop of diesel floating on the top by, if digging clay. Dipping the spade in between spoonfuls stops the stuff sticking.
    And, of course, we’d also get the other type. Lads in their 20′s. Blonde crops & tribal tats, usually a piercing or two. And always a bit larger than life with their glowing, healthy complexions & bulging gym muscles. Then a delivery would come in. 20 tons of plaster to be cleared from a truck in a no waiting zone. Chuck it off & stack it. We always worked as a team so everyone pitches in including yours truly. Piddling little sacks anyway. When I started the pack weight was hundredweights nominal which for bagged ballast soaked after weeks of winter rain, meant nearer 120 lbs. Paddy hasn’t raised a sweat but the muscle boys are looking pinker.
    Next it’s the grind. Whole lot has to be loaded up through the building to where it’ll be used. Some goes up 4 floors. What labourers are for. The lads start with a will. There’s always some clown has to show how tough he is. Shoulders 2 sacks together. That mood doesn’t last long. You watch them start to sag. The tendency to shoulder the next bag from the top of a stack rather than dead lift from the floor. The little breaks for a swig of water or yet another retying of bootlaces. But Paddy moves steadily on, roll-up hanging from the corner of his mouth. At first they were each doing a bag & a half to his one. Then they’re running level. After an hour it’s reversed. Next delivery arrives to chorused groans. By the end of the day our fit gym lads are sprawled on a stack, beetroot faced, dripping with sweat hardly enough energy left to go home. Paddy’s out sweeping the pavement looking exactly like he looked at 8 am.

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