I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Difficult, transient, worth it

Not a Cardiff contestant, just someone who's arrived
When were you happiest? The Guardian regularly asks celebrities. Many say "Now" for that’s the point when all one’s happy moments may be reviewed.

A stricter answer is trickier. Continuous happiness, without the brain reminding you of life's sorrows, is of very short duration. I might for instance cite my second date with VR (the first was blind, a more complex event) and on average that may be true. But there must have been self-doubt, embarrassment, the usual suspects. Anyone who claims unremitting happiness for, say, two hours must be fibbing.

The point arose as I watched BBC 4's TV coverage of Cardiff World Singer of The Year, a thirty-year-old international competition for youngish but established voices. Several had been guided by older acquaintances and the consensus was "Enjoy yourself." No doubt, but no performance is perfect and all contestants would remember their faults.

I sing and my faults (ie, unhappinesses) are multitudinous and ever present. But during my last lesson - for four or five seconds - I can, hand on heart, say I was truly happy. Yet again V and I were singing the Mozart duet and for one remarkable moment I was able to disengage and identify the sound we were making together. What happened next created the happiness.

Recognising the "rightness" of that combined sound I surged into a delicately controlled enthusiasm for the piece itself, music I have always loved. Very briefly I was able to simultaneously mobilise brain, heart and throat in a better understanding of the Mozart and to risk an interpretation. Not just singing; singing which contained a response to singing. Not perfect but better. Goodness caught on the wing.

Split infinitive? Never blindly follow rules, occasionally they’re meant to be broken.


  1. The first few seconds as I lower myself into a hot bath after a long day's walk.

  2. Sir Hugh: I think this makes you a sensualist. I agree that what you describe falls under at least one definition of happiness but I am, nevertheless, dissatisfied. A rather similar sensation occurs when you're struggling up a steep slope and you come to a halt. Or react to a first spoonful of cassoulet. Or embark on an act of... well, let's leave that one be

    I didn't define my happiness, that would have been too tedious, but I had in mind a mental rather than a physical state. That's why I mentioned "without the brain reminding you of life's sorrows". Your happiness seems to be located at your nerve endings; mine somewhere else. However it could be said that singing resides in both the physical and mental states and that blurs the issue.

    Repeatability is a factor. You could expect to feel the same if you arranged those same circumstances. I don't think I could. Your happiness was expected and familiar, mine was unexpected, could not be planned and is fairly rare (since there have been similar moments in singing).

    This is not an argument.

  3. What about the rare occasion when I receive a compliment from you on one of my blog posts?

  4. Sir Hugh: Wouldn't work. The happiness wouldn't be sustained. It would be tainted by memories of those occasions when you imagined I'd been mean-spirited.