Happiness? You must be joking!

PUBLISHED: 12:16 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

Like Victor Meldrew, I don t ber-lieve it. The apparently sane leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has announced that increasing people s happiness is now Tory policy. He s not alone. Labour s Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has said politic

Like Victor Meldrew, I don't ber-lieve it. The apparently sane leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has announced that increasing people's happiness is now Tory policy.

He's not alone. Labour's Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, has said politics must make room for "fun, laughter and play".

How will it work out at a local level? Will the Fenland Eye Weekly page in this paper be replaced with such mirth-making features as "Lots of Laughs with Pam Potts"; a new sitcom called "Pardon My French" in which a councillor is prepared to do almost anything for a laugh or "The Melton and Harper Show" where one of the duo reputedly has short fat hairy legs and regularly gets slapped on the face by his partner?

It won't work. True Fenlanders like being miserable. They're still grumpy that the Romans defeated local lass Boudicca; that Hereward lost out to the dreaded French and that any incomer should dare to move here.

They like to grumble about the government, schools that expect pupils to wear uniforms, foreigners who work hard and roads that aren't safe for drivers who like to speed.

Amazingly, there's a scheme afoot to teach happiness in schools. Given the amount of sullen brutishness that swills around some of Fenland's secondary schools, I wouldn't actually want to teach what will doubtless be called "Happiness Studies" to a group of mixed-ability teenagers on a wet Monday morning.

Happiness isn't a human right. Just as you can't buy it, you can't go round to your GP and get a fast-acting pill. Doctor friends tell me this doesn't stop some patients doing this. "Doctor, I'm stressed. Can you give me something?" Few doctors dare do what priests used to do and send them away with a reminder that true happiness can be achieved only in the next world. Or remind them that if you want it in this, it'll come only when you start adding to the pleasure of others.

But how do you do that? A recent survey discovered sex makes some folk happy (I can hear a few Fen women disputing that).

Others favour a drink after work with their mates. A surprising number find happiness in their work.

Quite bizarrely, four per cent of us enjoy traffic jams.

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