The Duke - March 11, 2015

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If it’s not too personal a question, what’s the first thing you do on a morning?

Well, when I say first thing, I mean once you’ve checked you are still breathing, visited the bathroom, combed those inexplicable knots out of your hair and remembered where you have hidden your wallet or purse and credit cards for safe keeping.

Next up, assuming you don’t take it to bed with you (please assure me that unless you have some acute medical condition which requires its close proximity at all times that you don’t) is probably trying to find your mobile phone (iPad etc) or turning on your laptop to see if there is actually anything worth 
responding to before the first coffee of the day.

If your inbox is anything like mine then apart from cheap hotel deals which expire in an hour’s time, even cheaper single Russian women desperate to meet you as soon as possible, another unmissable broadband update and news about whatever new crisis has beset Blackpool Football Club, there will be a clutch of “insta-wisdom” inspirational or motivational messages to plough through (or more sensibly just delete).

Today they included:

* I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.

* Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.

* Be happy. It drives people crazy.

* An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.

* I think the world would be so much happier if everyone broke out in song and dance every once in a while.

Even worse are the ones which come with celebrity endorsements or even celebrities claiming credit for what someone else has said or written.

It’s one thing for Reese Witherspoon to plunder her home cooked Southern aphorisms such as “Don’t be all hat and no cowboy.” It’s quite another for that shining 
beacon of modern philosophy and name changing, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (aka Chezza Cole), to post: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard” and credit it to the US novelist Kurt Vonnegut when it was actually originated by a blogger named Iain Thomas.

Pity then the poor folk in the Dublin offices of 
Facebook who no sooner have they cleared out their own inbox than they find their workplace walls littered with the likes of “Move fast and break things,” “What would you do if you weren’t afraid,” “Proceed and be bold” and “Done is better than perfect.”

Even Gazette Towers when I worked there had a spell of semi-motivational posters but the only one I can remember was the advice to wear sensible shoes – illustrated by a picture of a singularly plain young woman hurtling head over high heels down a flight of steps.

Attached to my computer screen I had placed the advice: “Admit nothing. Deny everything. Blame everyone.” which I felt was a sight more useful than the likes of “thinkfluencer” Cara Delevingne’s “You are not born a winner, you are not born a loser. You are born a chooser.”

My money though is with the Unspirational site which offers these gems:

* The story you think is funny is unbelievably long and boring.

* Be yourself. Be your awful boring self.

* Have a great day! Or don’t! No one cares!

* If I’ve ever offended you I’m not sorry and it’s your fault.

To those I add my own two:

* Cobblers are for mending shoes, not for sending to other people on a daily basis.

* If you can see light at the end of the tunnel then your journey has clearly not been long enough.

Here’s what happens when fairies

go chavvy

If you live in certain parts of Knott End you’ll probably have a ferry at the bottom of your garden.

If you live in Wayford near Crewkerne in Somerset, chances are you’ll have fairies at the bottom of yours – hundreds of them.

So many have been arriving (though no one has actually seen one yet) that volunteers managing Wayford Woods have introduced Britain’s first fairy control measures.

It might sound like April 1 has come early but more than 100 fairy doors have mysteriously appeared at the base of ash, beech and oak trees – some accompanied by tiny doll’s house chairs and beds.

All very ho-ho-ho and jolly except “quality control” issues have now been raised after fears that some of the doors are too garish to be genuine – pink paint and tinsel decorations being felt to be too chavvy for such classically shy and self-effacing creatures.

The first fairy door appeared about four years ago – a tasteful little wooden one with a little handle and a little window.

It was felt to be “charming” said a volunteer. Then a second door appeared, and a third and so on and so forth.

“We’re not anti-fairies,” says po-faced Wayford Woods trustee Steven Acreman (honestly!). “But we’ve got little doors 
everywhere and it’s in danger of getting out of control.”

A bit like kebab shops and bookies in the centre of Blackpool then?