Simple pleasures

Italian meat

In an effort to prepare for the hideous chaos that will be the London Olympics in 2 weeks’ time, I ran home from work yesterday. For some reason, I constantly think that Liverpool Street to West Hampstead will take me an hour to run, which it never does. So after an hour I got a bus from Lisson Grove instead. It was an unexpectedly sunny summer evening, and the bus was nearly empty; since I was alone, I indulged in the pleasure of going up the stairs to the top deck, and sitting right at the front. My friends usually stop me from sitting at the top, since everyone seems to hate the whole scenario of trying to stagger down the stairs again while the bus is moving – and since the incident of the guy who got stabbed to death for trying to stop some thugs throwing chips at his girlfriend, there is also a Wild West perception about it. Anything could happen, particularly if you make the mistake of occupying the front seat when someone else is already there.  As any Londoner knows, people who sit at the front of the bus are invariably “proper crazy”.

Anyway, it was a lovely end to a slightly stressful run, and improved my day in a rather mundane sort of way.

It’s a ludicrous cliche, but it is often just small differences that can lift my mood, and make life feel a little less like hard work. So here’s my list of them (excluding the more personal ones, obviously):

  1. Reading recipes when I am very, very hungry
  2. The memory of walking the dog through the slightly creepy dark canopy of the pine forest near our house in Germany when I was 17, and thinking of all the exciting things I would do with my life. That sense of optimistic trepidation is hard to recreate, but the feeling of boundless opportunity makes me happy even though the exciting bit never really materialised.
  3. Dreaming up imaginary conversations based on unsatisfactory real conversations, or just conversations that never happened but that I wish had.
  4. Running for as long as I possibly can, until that moment when I feel tired but elated
  5. The smell of freshly cut wet grass on a spring morning on the tennis courts at school
  6. Heavy rain against the windows at night
  7. Stroking cats
  8. Painting my toenails
  9. Cleaning the sink; when you spray on the cleaner, and then wipe every little curve down, and then turn on the hot tap to full and rinse it all, it sparkles in a way that satisfies me
  10. Listening to Test Match special, and doing absolutely nothing. Just sitting, and listening, and drinking tea.
  11. Walking around in Paris with no particular purpose. Finding a 50FF note and using it to buy a cappuccino in the Cafe de Flore even though I didn’t have the money to buy another bag of rice until I next got paid
  12. Eating ice cream
  13. Shredding paper
  14. A perfectly rare thick cut filet steak
  15. Taking off in a plane at night and watching the city lights fade away
  16. Driving a big SUV down Mulholland Drive at night, when Love me Tender comes on the radio
  17. Fresh bed sheets
  18. Bob Marley
  19. Old diamond rings in jewellers’ shop windows
  20. An ice cold gin and tonic with lots of fresh lime
  21. High heels. Forget about “court shoes”. Black patent leather round toed stiletto heels.
  22. Having a man pick me up off the ground when we’re both a little drunk and then hold me up to his waist and reach up to kiss me.
  23. Strong, freshly brewed coffee with single cream.
  24. When I give blood, the tube thingie is sometimes placed against my wrist. I read my book and try not to look too much, as the sight of it makes me feel slightly queasy. But I can feel the heat of my blood against my skin, and nothing makes me feel more alive. It makes me grateful that I am blessed with life and health, and that I can give some of that to someone who needs it.
  25. Swimming in the Pacific
  26. When the tube train gets stuck on my way to work, and I have plenty of the paper left to read and it’s full of interesting details.
  27. Cold milk and marmite toast
  28. Picking blisters
  29. Writing lists
  30. Beethoven’s concerto in D major, because it reminds me of someone I used to know. And obviously because it is  Beethoven.

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