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30 September, 1 October


The two keys to happiness

Celebrities “on the wane” love to give advice about how to be happy, says Craig Brown in the Daily Mail. In her 2020 book Happiness Becomes You, Tina Turner wrote: “Thank you for being you, exactly as you are.” The former TV personality Noel Edmonds tells readers of Positively Happy to memorise the phrase: “I am a special person. I am allowed to be happy in what I do.” And in Thrive, Huffington Post founder Ariana Huffington tells readers to “forgive yourself for any judgments that you are holding against yourself”. But I have to say, in my experience “one of the surest paths to unhappiness is to read books that tell you how to be happy”.
Instead, psychologists might have the answer: a recent study of 1,700 men found that those who went fishing were “significantly happier than the rest of us”, and less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Another trick is hard work. “Busy people are happy people,” is what Gyles Brandreth’s old headmaster told him, and those five words have “informed his entire life”. David Hockney, 86, and Melvyn Bragg, 83, are two more great examples of keeping busy – and content – into old age. Can both approaches be true? Fishing involves “doing virtually nothing”; working is about “doing as much as you possibly can”. But fishing and working are both ways of “thinking of a world beyond ourselves” – and beyond the reach of self-help gurus.


TikTokers are laughing over how much men think about the Roman Empire, says Thomas Mitchell in The Sydney Morning Herald. But frankly, there are many aspects of “life 2,000 years ago” we should bring back. Drinking red wine all day, every day – something all Romans did, from slaves to aristocrats. Open-toed sandals in the workplace, especially in “unseasonably warm spring weather”. More public holidays and festivals, of which the Romans had 135 by AD165. Philosophers as politicians: “deep thinkers” like Seneca and Cicero are far better than our modern lot. And finally, orgies. “Enough said.”


Quoted 30-9-23 Chadwick

“A saint is a person whose life has been under-researched.”

Theologian Henry Chadwick

Love etc

The broken romance behind James Bond’s womanising

Ian Fleming was, in the words of Noël Coward, “almost suspiciously overemphatic about sex… he loved f***ing women. It was as simple as that and he was quite unscrupulous about it.” The James Bond author’s famously “cut-and-run” attitude to sex – which he passed on to 007 – may have come from his mother, says Nicholas Shakespeare in a new biography. Eve Fleming “stamped on any blossoming romance” as her son grew up – until, aged 22, Ian fell head over heels for Monique Panchaud de Bottens, a 19-year-old Swiss girl with dark hair, blue eyes and a “strong sense of humour”. They were engaged for three years and often went skiing together.
But when Fleming failed his exams for the Foreign Office in September 1931, his mother blamed Monique, and put “unrelenting” pressure on him to break off the engagement. She even issued an ultimatum: he would have to choose between the girl and his allowance. Finally, in October 1933, he cut short the relationship, and spent his late twenties going after women “in the alternately determined and careless manner with which he collected first editions: the hunt, the acquisition, the shelving”. A journalist friend of his, Mary Pakenham, saw this as an “ugly response” to his mother forcing him apart from Monique. “He was always looking for his mother in women,” said another friend, Morris Cargill, “and then hating them when they gave in.”

The island

The 270-acre Torsa Island, off the west coast of Scotland, features a three-bedroom farmhouse in a sheltered spot with panoramic views over the mouth of Loch Melfort. The 19th-century stone building has been thoroughly modernised, and now has a boot room and a conservatory. Nearby are several dilapidated farm buildings, and the island, home to sea eagles, roe deer and otters, has more than 2.5 miles of shoreline. Oban train station is an hour away by car and ferry. £1.5m.


Menswear has been full of “anything-goes abandon” recently, says GQ, but “quite frankly, some of you have been allowed to dress yourselves unchecked for too long”. With that in mind, here are some “new sartorial edicts”. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. If an outfit works, repeat it over and over again. “Never wear shorts to the movies or on a plane.” Create a work uniform for yourself, so you can differentiate between on- and off-duty. Don’t wear trainers with suits. All shoes look better with socks, but don’t match your socks to your shoes. “Never wear flip-flops outside of the beach or pool.” And finally, don’t get too obsessive. “It’s cool that your jeans are from Japan, but you don’t have to tell everyone.” Read the full list here.

The landmark

This two-bedroom flat is on the 8th and 9th floors of Ernő Goldfinger’s iconic Trellick Tower. The Grade II* listed brutalist high-rise dominates the west London skyline above Golborne Road, which can be seen from a south-facing balcony than spans the full width of the flat. Both bedrooms have north-facing views over treetops and the canal below, and retain original features including built-in wardrobes. Westbourne Park Tube station is an eight-minute walk. £725,000.


quoted 30-9-23 Bismarck

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.”

Otto von Bismarck