Get a life

7 October 2017

9:00 AM

7 October 2017

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3018 you were invited to take your lead from Meik Wiking — CEO at the Happiness Research Institute and author of The Little Book of Hygge and The Little Book of Lykke — and provide an extract from your own Little Book of….

When I set this challenge, I had in mind the words of the Austrian psychiatrist and neurologist Viktor Frankl (he was speaking of American culture): ‘…again and again, one is commanded and ordered to “be happy”. But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.’

You probably don’t need to tell that to Svend Brinkmann, whose book Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze is a robust response to our relentless, self-help-manual-propelled quest to create a better, happier self. Brinkmann suggests that we resist the prevailing pressure to move forwards and be ever more agile and innovative, and learn instead to stand still, suppress our feelings and focus on the negative.

Jennifer Moore was unlucky to miss out on a place in the winning line-up. Those that made the final cut, a satisfyingly varied bunch, are rewarded with £30 each. Paul Carpenter scoops the extra fiver. 

Ever felt the warm cosy feeling of having written a book that states the obvious but sells in huge quantities? Then you are experiencing flogge.
Flogge has become fashionable recently but at heart it reflects the basic human desire to exploit the foolishness of others. It is hard to define with precision but you will know your life is floggelig (full of flogge) when you are sitting in a snug, prestigious bookshop with a queue of glowing readers snaking down a luminous high street, waiting to share flogge with you.

You’ll find it in a relaxed candlelit meal with a close friend — your accountant, for example — who can scarcely believe his luck. This incredible feeling of comfortable wellbeing can also be found in a book festival’s VIP tent, where, in the company of other flogge writers, you can toast the depthless credulity of the middle classes.
Paul Carpenter/The Little Book of Flogge
When people ask, ‘What exactly is Brygge?’, we Brits say ‘Brygge means Brygge’. We didn’t get to be the 19th happiest nation, or to win the Battle of Agincourt, by lighting candles, making pleated paper hearts, sitting around an open fire on unpronounceable pine sofas, playing with Lego, drinking cocoa, eating fancy pastries, and listening to Björk. Brygge is tough and no-nonsense. Brygge is do-it-yourself. Brygge is getting back control of your borders, staffing your own hospitals and performing your own operations with the proceeds. Brygge is doing your own plumbing, going down to Lincolnshire to pick your own fruit, queuing in coffee shops to make your own cappuccinos, looking after your own granny, collapsing your own economy. Above all, Brygge is that cosy, fuzzy, warm, happy feeling that you can only get when a group of close friends get together for a bloody good moan about the weather.
David Silverman/The Little Book of Brygge
Sometimes it’s hard, isn’t it, for the real ‘you’ to find its voice? Chugge can free the ‘me’ that you may have been repressing. Its simple principles will give you more wonderful ‘me-time’, while radically readjusting your work-life balance!

You deserve a treat. Phone the boss and say you won’t be in today. Then, at breakfast time — not before 10 a.m. — take a six-pack of Special Brew to a public park and chug with unapologetic relish while exchanging banter with passing strangers, especially women. Your sixth can could perhaps be chugged while you’re lying flat on a park bench. Mind those dribbles!

Having breakfasted, it is good to examine your inner spiritual core. Tense? Are you holding back your feelings of rage? Don’t. Shout boldly at passing traffic. And don’t worry if the words leaving your mouth are unintelligible even to you. They are yours. They are precious.
George Simmers/The Little Book of Chugge
Boo! Welcome to the Little Book of Silly, the only exhaustive guide to British silliness outside Hansard. Here, in such chapters as ‘Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Largely’ and ‘Whither the Sporran?’, all your questions — provided they’re silly — will be answered. Why must the BBC continue to broadcast shipping forecasts modern mariners don’t require? Can kiss-me-quick hats backfire? Tea cosy: kitchenware or evening wear? For centuries, silliness has been the defiant response of the British to living lives of quiet despair on an under-provisioned island with an unreliable climate. With Brexit looming, what better occasion to brush up your Duckworth-Lewis calculations, cultivate outsize vegetables no one wants to eat, take up Morris dancing or learn to whistle The Archers theme through your teeth? Boasting 12 colour illustrations (11 of them depicting Boaty McBoatface) and a guest index from a biography of Boris Johnson, this book isn’t merely about silly, it is silly. Weeee!
Adrian Fry/The Little Book of Silly
To date, literature has been kinder than history to those who are prepared to let loose their inner couch potato. Where are the records of real-life Oblomovs, Mary Musgroves and Bartlebys? Yet so much is to be said for inactivity, and there has never been a better time for it. If one does nothing, how can one be castigated for one’s actions? Avoiding exercise reduces the contribution from waste heat and gases to global warming. Modern communications devices mean that there is no need to leave one’s chair to maintain a semblance of an existence. Every need is catered for by online ordering and doorstep delivery. If you have had the energy to read this far, you definitely need to read on — you need slugge[1].
[1] Named for a valley in Bavaria which fell to the Carolingian Empire, with neither side noticing for 50 years.
A.H. Harker/The Little Book of Slugge


No. 3021: northern frights

The Scandinavians do a fine line in terrifying lullabies. You are invited to follow their lead and compose one that will give kiddies nightmares. Please email up to 16 lines to by 18 October.

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