• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 03
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There’s this TED talk I heard the other day, see. It’s ‘bout happiness, what it is. They’ve been doing this study in America and they’ve got conclusions now they’ve been doing the study for seventy-five years. Jeez, that’s as old as my mam and thinking ‘bout that I pick up the phone and I try to tell her ‘bout the study even though I know what they’ve got to say, well, it’s maybe too late for her.

‘It comes down to one thing,’ I tell her. ‘It’s ‘bout relationships.’

She thinks I’m making a criticism of her. She lives alone and she’s not talking to my sister these days on account of my sister only calls when she needs something from my mam. Mam ain’t got nothing to give now she’s on a pension so that makes my mam feel bad, and my sister don’t call.

And this TED talk, it says guys – cos it’s a study of just guys! – guys that are happiest in their lives are guys that have strong relationships and they feel they can count on the people close to ‘em, are supported by ‘em.

‘Are you happy?’ mam says, and she holds her breath so hard it’s like she ain’t there no more. I ain’t got an answer to what she asks, not right away, so it’s like I’m not there neither.

‘I think you should call Livvy,’ I say at last.

She’s immediately worried, thinking I’m saying she should call cos there’s something wrong.

‘Just to say hi and to tell her you’re thinking of her, maybe to arrange to meet up for a coffee and a bit of Battenburg slice.’

Mam’s quiet again, on the other end of the line – is it lines these days when the phones are mobile phones and there’s no operator connecting you like they used to?



She’s quiet and I got nothing more to say – ‘cept in my head I’m saying how I’m stupid to think I could make a difference, stupid to even care. And I’m thinking I got ‘nough problems of my own and happiness is a carrot on a stick held out of reach and no matter how hard I run towards it, well, it stays out of reach; ‘cept I spent the night with my ex-wife last week. We drank a bottle of pinot grigio she had in the fridge and she said she missed me sometimes. One thing led to another and we were thrashing about in her bed. I thought the carrot was a little closer then – but it was just one night and in the morning we dressed with our backs to each other like we was ashamed of who we were.

‘So, I should call Livvy?’ mam says.

‘You should,’ I tell her.

We make our goodbyes then and after hanging up I feel a little better ‘bout myself and what that guy on the TED talk had to say makes some sense then.