PERHAPS you recall the groundbreaking study which showed that 1957 was the happiest year in recent British history (in this case meaning since 1776).

Not un-coincidentally, 1957 was the year that urbane and respectable prime minister Harold Macmillan announced: “Our people have never had it so good.” One reason for this might have been that men at least only had to thole this Earthly torment for 66 years on average, meaning few suffered dementia, incontinence or pressure to play bowls.

Most people had outdoor toilets which helped form the character, imbuing it with courage, tenacity and moral integrity. One of the study authors (from Warwick University) said: “It may be that people in the 1950s had a greater sense of realism about happiness.” World War Two’s freshness in the memory doubtless contributed to that.

READ MORE: Steamy nights in Greenock

The boffins also concluded: “Now we are more aware of what is happening in the world, but this could be making us unhappier.” Yes, perhaps, had it not been politically disadvantageous to do so, our Harold might have added about having it so good: “And you won’t ever again.”

Things peak. Empires, popularity, careers: they rise and fall. Music too: “classical” started low with plodding ditties on harpsichord and dulcimer, before rising steadily with Mozart and Beethoven, reaching the apex of melodic beauty with Ravel, Debussy, Delius and Vaughan Williams, then declining into the honks and tweets of Stockhausen and offering virtually nothing of note now.

Pop music started low with rubbish like skiffle and rock ’n’ roll, rose with psychedelia and hard rock, reaching a pinnacle with prog, before sliding into punk and flatlining with dance, techno and rap.

Which makes it all the odder when I say to younger people of today: “You’ve never had it so good – musically.”

First, I should say that any rise and fall is never straight up and down. There are peaks and troughs. Blur came after punk (some of which was good) but were worthy successors to The Beatles. And there are many brilliant musicians today, such as Tim Henson, who is revolutionising guitar playing.#

But younger folk today can also easily access the brilliant music of the past – and are doing so in droves. It’s there for them to encounter as if it were new. Thus Boom Radio (aimed at “boomers” born between 1946 and 1964), with its catalogue of 1960s and 1970s songs, now has younger folk making up 20% of its listeners. 

Changed days. We used to laugh at our parents’ beloved crooners. But younger folk can love our music, because it was amazingly creative, a peak that is peaking again. How extraordinary. 2023: musically, if nowhere else, happy days.

Word of advice
THE trouble with health advice is, they always over-do it. Don’t drink more than a thimbleful of Malibu a night. Do drink three vats of water. Lift weights. Spend an hour a day meditating. Dinnae sit doon.

The vast majority of work involves sitting on your butt so think what would happen to the economy if we dropped everything to spend hours every day at yon malarky?

The one that obtains my ruminant is drinking two litres of water a day. That’s three and a half pints. Seriously, who goes to the tap and drinks three and a half pints of water a day? I’ll tell you who: a right nutter. And, as for these experts, what land do they live in, readers? Correct: Cloud C. 

Still, a brief visit to Planet Earth was paid this week when they – scientists from yonder Spain in this instance – revised down the bizarre instruction to walk 10,000 steps a day. Ten. Thousand. Steps. That’s five miles. Fine, I’ll just pack in my job and wish my family goodbye.

Before you get too excited, they’ve only brought the target down to 8,763 but, for those deploring all this talking the talk about walking the walk, the small print said just 2,700 steps a day lowers the chance of dying young or suffering heart attacks or strokes. And you can pretty much do that just stoatin’ back and forward to the fridge and nippin’ oot for a fly smoke.

Does anybody out there take this stuff seriously? I can’t imagine doctors do. Far too busy. And I seem to remember surveys showing they drank about as much as journalists, each profession or trade blotting out the horror and sadness of their work, in their case death and catastrophic illness, in ours the doings of Parliament.

Some people spend so much time taking steps to prolong their lives that they don’t actually live. And they never look happy. To them we say: lighten up. Why seek longevity anyway? You’ll need a hoist and three nurses just to trim your nasal hair. You’ll micturate without due care and attention, suffer a hundred aches and pains, and won’t be able to remember the Prime Minister’s name. Though I concede the last-named is easily done.

Meanwhile, here is our advice to health experts: moderation in all things. You keep saying it to us, but don’t follow it yourselves with your unrealistic targets.

New this week: Tea is oot for mince & tatties

Red meat consumption has declined by an astonishing 80% since the 1970s. There are sound arguments for this being good. Less clear morally, tea, tatties and bread are also down. But pizza, chicken and fish are up. As is booze: massively. Overall, this should make us better people, saving the planet while eating pizza and getting sloshed. Marvellous.

Rune along now

Now they’re telling us to consult Nordic runes rather than more scientifically based astrology. A new book says runes are more attuned to differing periods of energy in yonder cosmos. Rather than proven, factual names like Leo, Virgo and Pisces, punters are telt to check out Fehu, Wunjo and Gebo. Utter gibberish. Stick to the science, folks.

Sweet talking

We can put sugar in our tea and coffee again. An international study found doing so had “no statistically significant association” with heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Now they tell us. Another expert said you get more sugar in these fancy coffee shops’ flavoured concoctions. How we wish they’d bring back old-fashioned caffs with normal tea, coffee and sugar.

Picture of health

Attending the cinema could cut the risk of diabetes because it reduces stress, says a study. Another says watching horror films at the flicks creates a bond with others. I’m not bonding with the sort of ned who goes to the pictures these days.

Positively negative

Negative emotions can help us achieve our goals, say academics in yonder Texas. They say anger, boredom or sadness – yay, my daily triptych – are necessary parts of a healthy psyche and better motivators for certain tasks. As someone who embraces a negative attitude to life, this has cheered me up no end. Damn!