Look At It This Way - April 15, 2011

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I dropped in at the Bourne Poacher, Thornton, early doors, this week, as one of the pub’s party afternoons for the “young at heart” ended, a large group of older people skipping on air to the coaches outside.

Stopped short by the sheer joy of it all, I waved them off. Nothing cheers like cheerful people, and they were clamouring for a return visit, utterly elated, shaking hands, hugging staff, including a young blind dancer, who had helped provide five hours of fun. I even got a hug by default and derived much guilty pleasure from it.

Frankly, I’d have booked my old mum in on the spot, had she been up to it, a mere £15 for three course lunch, tea and bics, singalong, dancing, games. These party afternoons beat the heck out of the heating allowance for warming the cockles of the heart. No wonder they are all smiles.

What’s more, the Bourne Poacher (turned charity gamekeeper) has raised £50k for local charities in the last two years.

That’s enough to make anyone smile. Or should be. And if The Drugs Don’t Work (yes, I watched the final episode of Benidorm, one of the few programmes that makes me laugh out loud, and heard Donald’s swansong) try Ken Dodd’s Happiness. It was still ringing in the old folks’ ears as they boarded their coaches home.

The last time I heard Happiness it was being sung by the man himself, while I sat ready to nick a surgical support ring and “she-wee” from an elderly lady who had laughed herself to sleep, or death, I wasn’t sure which from her slack- jawed stupor, in the Grand Theatre seat in front.

Doddy’s Happiness Show is one to approach with caution if you need regular meds, more than two loo breaks, or have a tendency to deep vein thrombosis if sat still for too long. The tickets should carry a public car park health warning.

But Doddy knows laughter is the best tonic. I’d love to see him rise from Her Maj’s birthday honours list as Sir Kenneth of Knotty Ash – a knighthood for services to the nation is long overdue. Although you don’t use terms like “overdue” around Mr Dodd.

By and large, we’re a miserable bunch. No wonder, with 4,500 jobs set to vanish in three years in Blackpool alone, as cost cutters pick over the public sector carcass.

And if it only hurts when you laugh, it’s smart of the Royal College of Nursing’s massed ranks to register no confidence in NHS reforms. Now that cheered me up.

I’ve even less confidence in David Cameron’s proposed Happiness Index. He’s asked the Office of National Statistics to “measure” national wellbeing. Answers, online, are almost poignant in their pursuit of happiness. Most simply want more time to spend with their family.

How sad we live in a society which now needs an Action for Happiness programme to map out social change. Put Doddy in charge...