This week’s focus: I don’t know about you, but I find it almost impossible to name my favourite piece of music. There are just so many contenders. Off the top of my head, Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads, Common People by Pulp, Life on Mars? by David Bowie, Strawberry Fields by The Beatles, Cloudbusting by Kate Bush and Simple Twist of Fate by Bob Dylan all immediately come to mind. The list seems endless and I’m sure that your list, though different to mine, is just as long.

I can tell you which song makes me feel happiest though: Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3, by Ian Dury and the Blockheads. The lyrics are an eclectic list of things that brought a smile to Ian Dury’s face and made his life better.

The list is both superficial and profound – Dury’s ‘reasons’ ranged from curing smallpox and the Bolshoi Ballet through to nanny goats and sitting on the potty! It speaks to our ability to find happiness and joy in both the big and small things in life. The author, Nick Hornby, once suggested that Reasons To Be Cheerful should be the UK’s national anthem: I second that proposal!

As 2019 ends, it feels like many people are dissatisfied, frustrated and angry. All these emotions have a role in life but left alone they don’t achieve anything. Success requires action, and action requires the belief that you have the power and resources needed to make things happen.

In other words, success requires a healthy level of optimism.

Ian Dury faced many challenges in his relatively short life, not least the effects of the polio he contracted as a child. By all accounts, he wasn’t always happy, but he was sufficiently optimistic to respond to his challenges, to appreciate the good things in life, to act, make things happen and to create something as wonderful as this song.

And, surely, that is one more reason to be cheerful!

Finally, this is my final post of 2019. Thank you for all your support during the year and, from everyone at our house to everyone at yours, Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2020.

Off The Record: Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3 by Ian Dury and the Blockheads

The juice of a carrot

The smile of a parrot

A little drop of claret

Anything that rocks

Elvis and Scotty

Days when I ain’t spotty

Sitting on the potty

Curing smallpox

© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.