For a few years now, one of the things that I feel obligated/obliged (please, someone tell me the difference) to do is to monitor weekend weather forecasts from about Tuesday night onwards. In the summer, this is usually to see the outlook for cricket, and at all other times it is to assess whether a good walk is going to be possible, likely and/or pleasant, and what sort of distance might be in order. For much of this week, the forecasts have been for the mother of all rain on Sunday and a clear spell on Saturday. By Friday morning, rain was going to fall on both days, though by last night and then this morning, there was some drizzle and light rain due only for a short period on Saturday afternoon, and still belting down on Sunday.
So as I prepared to leave the house at lunchtime today in a hoodie – which has a hood, indeed – I was only persuaded after about two minutes by Pammy that I needed to take a light waterproof jacket, you know, one of those that folds or screws up into a sort of bum bag about the size of one of Taylor Swift’s cheeks, rather than one of Kim Kardashian’s. At the time, it was a decision that had all the hallmarks of ‘anything for a quiet life’ but in hindsight I had reason to very much thank my better half since there was to be significant rain.
After a mile or two, I realised that I had forgotten to take my medication today, but it is only a ‘light touch’ just to take the edge off any downs. There was just the hint of drizzle as I neared Stubbington when a car stopped in a side road and my attention was drawn to a driver honking and howling at me. Now I hadn’t misbehaved in the slightest as I recognised the driver, who greeted me with, “I’d recognise the back of that head anywhere”. Now there are certain people who can be as sarcastic as they like without upsetting me, and where I think the feeling is absolutely mutual, and this person was one of those sorts. I won’t embarrass him by naming him but he is a work colleague (thankfully, not much contact through work itself!) for whom I have massive respect as a human being. Not quite a full-on bromance but not far off. The brief exchange raised my spirits significantly. While I keep the identity protected, the big goober will probably identify himself on Facebook by saying how nice (or not) it was to see me on my walk.
I reflected on this over my coffee as I took my break a few minutes later, just as it started to rain. My mood has been fluctuating somewhat for some time and I have thought before about what changes my mood. A first throw at a list – in no particular order – of my personal mood changers would be something like (a positive is, er, a positive change):
Light-touch medication: +1 (around -1 if I don’t take it for two or three days)
Eating chocolate (while and just after eating): +1 per bar; (an hour later) -1 for the first bar, -2 for the second and later
A good night’s sleep: +3
A bad night’s sleep: -2
Coffee, the first of the day, not necessarily first thing in the morning: +1 or +2
Subsequent coffees: Nothing significant, though might have some effect on forthcoming sleep.
Sarcasm / banter with good friend(s): +3
Pedantry with good friend(s): Well, positive, but it is not a quantifiable concept. How could you assess this against the level or quality of pedantry, and how could one assert whether it is actually pedantry or not?
Doing good for someone else: Anything on a scale of about +1 to +3, depending on the level of help (and a bonus +1 if someone says thank you – you don’t know how much that sometimes means; when I say that, it sometimes means +1)
A hug: Almost always positive, the level of positivity directly proportional to the level of genuine warmth. If I was being particularly pervy, I might also mention the, er, physical attributes of the ‘hugger’ that can add a small positive multiplicative factor! So I won’t mention it. Oh, hang on….
Having a task ‘to do’ that you have to do, but don’t want to do, and can’t round to doing: Anything from -1 to -5. Yes, that is self-inflicted, absolutely. I suffer insufferably from this complaint. In fact, I was going to represent GB at the 2018 Procrastination Olympiad, but I’ve decided that I’m too busy and will go for it next year instead.
Sarcasm or hurtful comment from someone you don’t know: Up to -1 (for a short while). If I don’t know them, it’s irritating but only briefly. I can usually (sometimes gradually) convince myself that they don’t know me well enough to say anything.
Sarcasm or hurtful comment from someone I do know (but not a good friend): Depending on what it is, either 0 or a negative on a scale up to about -3. Of course, it is normal to only think of a very effective retort a while afterwards, rather than at the time.
A nice long walk: A few miles will usually negate all negative scores, and have a positive effect (up to a further +5) that peaks in the first couple of days, gradually diminishing as the days increase, until about 7-10 days afterwards.
[I actually found that quite a helpful mental exercise to rationalise my thoughts. Certainly not an exhaustive list but what came into my mind. Current score about +8.]
OK, so I finished my coffee, a slightly shorter break than usual, and by that time it was raining, not quite cats and dogs, but at least gerbils and hamsters (Old Joke Alert: I had a hamster who passed away recently…… he died at the wheel). It was enough for the waterproof jacket to be vitally effective for about an hour until the rodents relented and then ran away. At least today I didn’t feel strained like last week in getting to 14 miles and I am feeling like I’m gaining a bit in fitness now.