the news editor's desk, sometime late yesterday.
News editor: "We know you avoid working on Saturdays as a matter of principle, Leadbetter, but there's something I'd really like you to cover this weekend."
Me (instantly on my guard): "You want me to work on a Saturday? Can't say I'm happy about that, boss."
News editor (brightly): "Which is exactly why you're the best person for this.
"It's a conference called Scotland's Happiness Day. I want you to go there, see what's happening, talk to the people involved.
"A thousand words of bright, sassy, upbeat copy - just what people need at this time of year."
Me: "Happiness? What the (mild expletive deleted) is there to be happy about at this time of year?"
News editor (caught off guard): "What do you mean?"
Me: "Well, winter's here, for a start. Terrible weather for months on end. Nothing to look forward to but train delays, stodgy comfort food, and ruined umbrellas dumped in waste-bins."
News editor: "But ..."
Me: "Energy costs going through the roof. Bloody Christmas on the way. All that shopping, all those queues. All those overpriced presents."
News editor: "Hang on a min ..."
Me: "Plus, Lou Reed's dead. Plus, we're saddled with David Cameron until 2015. What is there to be happy about?"
News editor (sighing): "You really are a ray of sunshine, you know? You really could do with going to this thing on Saturday."
Me: "Still can't see the point of a conference about happiness."
News editor (reading from conference website on his screen): "It says here its mission 'is to celebrate those who help make you smile, find ways to add more smiles and happiness to your day, and pass your smile and happiness onto others.' You can boost your happiness with inspiration and tips from the various speakers. There's music and comedy as well."
Me (reading over his shoulder): "Laughter yoga. The science of happiness. Inspirational talks on how to be happy. Okay. I'll give it a go."
News editor: "Thank God for that. You can take a day off for working Saturday."
He pauses. "Happy now?"
l Happiness Day Conference, Saturday, Community Central Hall, 292-316 Maryhill Road, Glasgow.
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