I used to have a Doctor Who mug. It had Peter Davidson’s face and a quote from classic Who on it. It wasn’t a particularly impressive mug but I rather liked it. I packed it with all my belongings and it kept me company in those first months of living away from home.
Then I broke it. I was washing up. I turned around and put the mug in the draining rack. Except I didn’t put it in the draining rack. I misjudged the distance and let go of the mug in mid-air. It hit the lino floor suddenly and violently; a dozen shards skidded into the corners.
I had to stop what I was doing, walk calmly into my room, curl up in a ball and cry violently. Breaking that mug made very, very sad for a little while. And even though I knew that it was irrational to cry over broken crockery, I knew it was a sadness which I wasn’t alone in feeling. There’s something quite grown-up about the feeling that comes with breaking things.
It isn’t the mug which I was upset about, not really. On a cold morning, making tea in your favourite mug gives a tangible and important bit of happiness. It’s a little good thing which, on days which are full of little bad things, makes all the difference.
Watching a mug splitter across the kitchen floor, we see all those moments of happiness splitter with it. Months of winter mornings lose a little happiness. And that, far more than a mug breaking, is really sad.
I think this theory applies to a lot of things. It’s why we miss people when they’re far away. Little things like hugs are something you only really notice when they’re absent. It’s why tea makes us happy. It’s why sometimes possessions are important. If owning a butter dish with The Beatles on it or a pillow shaped like a turtle makes you happy, then that matters. It is why I learnt the dance moves to Waterline.
The best days, in my experience aren’t the days when something huge happens. They’re the times when the little things pile up on the good side.
Sunday 29th November 2009
Unexpected markets
Olive oil so peppery it made me cough
A man with a donkey
A helium balloon with a donkey on it
Watching children try and run when they’re rugged up for freezing weather
Views of farmland
Wednesday 30th November 2011
Hitting my 50,000 word target on the last day of November
Lying on the floor and taking up as much space as I could
Playing my favourite album twice in a row
Tea with friends
Using windows as doors
Swimming in the ocean baths at night time
Saturday 7th July 2012
New tea made in new teapots
Giant novelty floor pianos
The way the light changes colour in the afternoon
Lying two on a couch even though its only really big enough for one
Good TV
Life is full of little sad things and little happy things. I think it’s ok to ignore the former and celebrate the later.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year