23 June 2009

How to be content

'Read carefully the following list that I have compiled. It is the product of a lifetime of occasional study and comprises all the ambitions anyone should ever have in life.

1) Have a place for the Sellotape and wrapping paper. Giving presents is tedious enough without having to turn the house upside down every time you want to pretend you like someone enough to have remembered their birthday.

2) Find your dressing gown cord.

3) Find a job in a book or cake shop, depending on which you'd save first from your house if there were a fire.

4) Cook only meals that dirty just one pan.

5) Don't be afraid to eat out of the pan.

6) Get a cat. Not if you're bounded on all sides by dual carriageways, motorways and a shooting range, and are out 14 hours a day, obviously, but otherwise, get a cat.

7) Buy only every fifth thing you take a fancy to when out shopping.

8) Always take an umbrella.

9) And a mini A to Z.

10) And put the phone back on its thing.

11) Buy one of those plastic eggs that you put in a pan with real eggs that tells you how hard-boiled they have become. A life of perfectly boiled eggs is a life of true contentment.

12) Maybe the cat will even come and sit in your lap. You see how it all begins to tie in?

Have a bit of a tidy up and then a cup of tea.

13) If you are a woman who alternates between two favourite handbags, buy a second set of everything you habitually take with you - make-up, hairbrush, painkillers, cosh, hip flask, facsimile of the Holy Prepuce, or whatever else it is that helps you get through the day - so you don't have to keep decanting your support system from one to the other. This is not a waste of money - it has been estimated, by me, just now, that the average woman loses 406 years of her life shifting this stuff around, so what you are actually doing is buying yourself literally hundreds more hours a day. Do it.

14) If you are a man who alternates between two favourite handbags, I suspect you may have already engineered for yourself a lifestyle that can admit of no more happiness and I applaud you unreservedly.

15) Remember, unless she's actually in the room, your mother cannot see you. And even if she can still sense that you're doing something wrong, she'll never be able to prove it.

Upon fulfilment of these goals, perfect happiness, I assure you, will ensue'

- Lucy Mangan, Guardian, 23 May 2009

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