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Reasons to be cheerful when the news is bad

During one of the most miserable weeks to be a satirist MITCH BENN tries to find some positives to write about.

A man walks through the rain in Batabano, Mayabeque province as Hurricane Ida passes through eastern Cuba. Photo: Getty Images.

Well folks, I gotta tell you… this has been one of the most miserable weeks to be a satirist that I can recall in my long and almost entirely undistinguished career. Plenty going on, lots to talk about, and precisely NONE of it in the least bit even tangentially amusing.

Seriously; been scanning the headlines all week and thinking “Nope, not going anywhere NEAR that”. I got halfway through writing a bit about the Red Cross shipping half a million fancy dress dog costumes to Kabul to give stranded refugees a fighting chance of getting on a plane before I realised even THAT was too grim.

So let’s not look at the news this week. Let’s not even THINK about the news. There are, after all, still so many good things to think about:

THE WEATHER
Well summer is over but it’s still pretty warm, isn’t it? Quite pleasant in fact. Looks like it might be one of those nice long, lingering “Indian summers” this year. As long as it doesn’t flood again, of course. Been a lot of flooding this summer, hasn’t there? Floods and wildfires.

In fact, at times it felt like much of the world was either underwater or in flames. Oh, and yet another hurricane has battered New Orleans, I notice, Yeah, maybe better not think about the weather either.

FOOD
Food! Now you’re talking. I don’t know about you but I’ve been using food to numb myself to the pain of existence for years! And with restaurants re-opening, we can go out to eat again! As long as it’s not to Nando’s; they’ve run out of chicken (NOT because of Brexit, you Remainer scamps) which is a bit of a bummer as chicken is pretty much all they do…

Oh well, we can always cook something up for ourselves, using whatever manky bits of produce are left in the supermarkets…

MOVIES
The cinemas are open! And they’ve tried to do another movie of Dune! That ought to while away an hour or six! Will they finally get Dune to work as a movie this time? Or will this be the moment they realise there’s no point in trying, as all the remotely filmable bits of that book already turned up in Star Wars?

TV
Now is not the time to brave a mammoth box set or nerve-jangling documentary. What we need at the moment is some soothing, calming TV like The Repair Shop or the Bake-Off.

Let the pastoral visuals and tasteful background music wash over you as you ponder the fact that the British public can admire, and even delight in expertise when it’s being deployed to restore a burnt teddy bear or bake a rainbow sponge cake, while dismissing the whole notion of “expertise” as elitist claptrap when it comes to trivial matters such as economics and virology.

TREES

Ah, the autumn, the autumn. Soon we will see nature clad in its golden splendour as the year turns and the nights draw in.

We should each of us avail ourselves of this last opportunity to get out and admire the trees of our beautiful nation in all their glory, as by this time next year we’ll either have chopped them all down for firewood or be living in them.

MUSIC

As I type this, I’m listening to my Ludwig Van Beethoven playlist on Spotify. NOT in a transparent and futile attempt to look clever, but because I genuinely find old LVB to be the perfect soundtrack for calming my usually turbulent mind and helping me concentrate.

The fact that I just TOLD you all that IS a transparent and futile attempt to look clever. How did I do?

CHRISTMAS
Sorry to lay this on you, but this is how time works these days. It’s September now, which means in about two weeks it’ll be Halloween and about two weeks after that it’ll be Christmas.

So you’ve just got time to sort out how you’re going to buy presents for everyone in a country that’s just effectively blockaded itself. Oh, and you’d better start practising trapping squirrels, ’cos there ain’t gonna be no turkeys either…

POEM OF THE WEEK
Turn off the TV
The radio too
Stare down at your shoes
Look over there
Look anywhere
Just don’t look at the news.
Go to the corner
Go to your room
Go anywhere you choose
Screw up your eyes
And squint up at the sky
Just don’t look at the news.
Whatever’s so will still be so
Can’t change it anyway
Sometimes it’s okay not to know
Whatever people say.
Maybe tomorrow
We’ll check it again
What do we have to lose?
But just for today
It can all go away
I’m not gonna look at the news.

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