HOPE springs eternal, and I wish it wouldn’t. Alas, I don’t think we can help ourselves.

A study this week suggested that pessimists die two years earlier than “the average person”. But surely the average person is pessimistic?

Optimists and people of a sunny disposition stand out from the common herd, in the midst of which you can usually find me merrily mooing. Most of us suspect such people as at best kidding themselves on, and at worst being mentally ill.

Perhaps that only applies in Scotland, where grey skies colour our disposition. It’s said that weather is a great determinant of national or regional outlook, but I guess you’d find both pessimists and optimists in Africa, say, just as you find optimists in Scotland, even if many end up in prison (“It can’t go wrong. They’ll never catch us.)”

For clarity’s sake, I should explain that the aforementioned study, by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, found that optimists didn’t live longer – or less – than “the average person”.

It’s just that, if you’re optimistic, or don’t swing one way or the other, you’re fine. But if you’re a pessimist, you’re doomed, which kind of proves their point.

If I were to classify myself, I’d say I’m a pessimist who has occasional bursts of optimism, which always end in disappointment. Thus defined, life is an accumulation of disappointments.

You say: “What about achievements, big nose?” Say what now? Surely, these are the exception rather than the rule? Indeed, it’s an axiom of optimist extremists that one shouldn’t fear failure. Try, try and try again. Naw. Bugger off.

Such delusional attitudes highlight a problem with optimism: it takes too much effort. You have to work hard to see the bright side. You must have faith, too, which is comically predicated on the assumption that the universe is a benign place.

Pessimism has a long, rich history. Nearly all classical authors bemoaned their times and morés, believing their civilisation doomed and not a patch on what it was in the past. It was ever thus: golden ages that never existed.

In our time, you could make an impressionistic case for saying the the recent past, at least, was better. Available, if skimpy, evidence suggests that, 60-70 years ago, say, people were less angry.

In film from that period, and indeed decades further back, everybody smiles, genuinely and naturally. In earlier times, perhaps this was partly a reaction to the novelty of the camera, but you cannot help noticing that everyone smiles readily, even in the trenches.

Transported back then, people from today – when smiling isn’t “cool” – would grimace, sneer, ask what the hell you were up to, then threaten you.

On the other hand, no one can deny that health (viruses permitting), housing and entertainment options are far better now. Materially, our lives have measurably improved.

You might say circumstances are better and people worse, but I doubt if this is true. People are exactly as rubbish as they always were.

So, cheer up. Let’s end on an optimistic note: things can only get less worse. Hold that thought and, despite never getting 10 minutes of your life back after reading this, I may have given you another one year, 364 days, 23 hours and 50 minutes left to live. You’re welcome.

Kindle regards

HERE’S an interesting thing. No, seriously. While shoving furniture willy-nilly around a room, I found my old Kindle, gathering dust beneath a sofa.

Like many leading dolts, when Kindles came out, I said I could never see past reading a proper book. But, eventually, I tried a Kindle and thought it brilliant, and thenceforth, for a while, ordered all my books on it.

But, gradually, I just drifted back to proper, physical books again. Other top dolts I’ve spoken to report the same process.

However, I don’t think it has to be, as you Earthlings seem prone to, an either-or thing. Why not have both? Indeed, last night, as I write, I read one volume on my Kindle and another as a physical book.

I was delighted to find so many interesting books, that I’d forgotten about, on my Kindle: Learn to Swim in Your Bath; Do Dead People Watch You Shower? (seriously, a book about life after death); Maximum Willpower (never finished that).

While I’m glad Kindles are still going, I’ve also been pleased that bookshops have survived. For a while they looked doomed, and I wasn’t in one for a couple of years.

But when I did return I found it lovely to rekindle, so to say, the experience of browsing and serendipitous discovery. Books go on, bookshops go on, the Kindle is still with us (particularly when travelling).

Each of them has been written out of our futures, and each has gone on to write chapters new.

Five things we’ve learned this week

Singer Elton John’s runs up a power bill of £49,000 a year at his big hoose in Bucks, earning him the sobriquet Socket Man. Consumer experts advised him to go on Uswitch to change supplier and save hundreds of pounds.

The 20-ton sarsen stones at Stonehenge came from a site 15 miles away, according to the 4,022nd research paper on the subject. However, we’re still no closer to knowing went on at Stonehenge, beyond suspecting it involved something ghastly, such as dancing.

Vehicles “not made on this Earth” are in US Government storage, according to former Pentagon official Eric Davis. The alleged news led to much hysteria online, with many commenters complaining that the revelation had not led to enough hysteria.

Prince William revealed that, in his footballing youth, he made a bodyguard pretend he was a sniper, shining a laser pen’s red dot on a rival player. Loyal royal football commentators maintained there was nothing in the rules against such “gamesmanship”.

By the end of next year, one billion CCTV cameras will be watching folk worldwide, according to technology website Comparitech. Though China was the worst offender, with London not far behind, nearly all countries are at it. Say cheese, everybody!