I've always found Ariel Leve’s writing a tad joyless and after reading The Positive Side Of Being Pessimistic I felt so downhearted that I ate three chocolate biscuits. Then I felt even more hopeless so decided to have a good chat with myself.
Do you not hate yourself for eating three chocolate biscuits?
I do so. I’m a disgusting greedy slob.
Do you feel lower than a snake’s belly?
Indeed I do. I feel so disgusting that I should be scraping myself off my shoe.
According to the gist of Ms Leve’s argument, are you feeling better or worse for applying a bit of negative thinking and giving yourself a hard time by imagining that you are going to turn into an enormous blimp?
You know, I actually feel better because I am facing up to facts and not wearing myself out pretending that I hold myself in the highest regard at all times and on every occasion.
So I went for my lunchtime walk resolving that I would walk even faster than usual to work off the three biscuits. Sheesh! This positive thinking thing is hard to keep at bay.
The brisk walking was giving me a funny feeling in my chest and I wondered if I was mad setting off on a bicycle for the Rhinns of Galloway if I couldn’t even walk briskly for five minutes without getting a tight feeling in my chest. Then I wondered if it was the start of Swine Flu or congestive heart failure. Oh well. At least I had Tess of the d’Urbervilles to take my mind off my worries.
It was a beautiful sunny day. The sky was bright, the verges thick with beautiful scented meadowsweet and the air buzzed with happy insects. The road I’d chosen was near the forest, the fields were full of lambs and ewes, there was the cutest picture book donkey in a field, there were even goats and a pretty little silver unicorn tied to a gate. Okay, okay – the unicorn had no horn, it might have been just an ordinary grey pony but it did remind me so strongly of Maria Merryweather’s Little White Horse.
I very nearly started to feel cheerful. Even Tess of the d’Urbervilles was lightening my mood. The part were Tess’ parents were drinking in the bedroom of Mrs Rolliver’s Inn was almost droll. Never mind that Mr Durbeyfield had just been told that his heart was failing, or that Mrs Durbeyfield had deserted her children for the evening or that Mr Durbeyfield was so poorly from drink that he couldn’t deliver his wagon load of beehives and Tess and Abraham had to go instead. It was still amusing me. But then! Then poor Prince met with his terrible accident, dying in his harness and leaving poor Tess guilty and distraught. Then there was his pathetic funeral with all the little Durbeyfields in attendance. I knew that Tess was going to be a sad book but no one had told me just how harrowing it was going to be!
I won’t be taking Tess to Scotland with me. It will just be Nellybert and bicycles. This is how I imagine it. Bert and I will be cycling along quiet coastal roads in sunshine. We will explore caves and forests and visit beautiful gardens. We will lie on grass verges eating oranges and chocolate. We will be happy.
This is what I fear. The roads will be crazy with traffic. There will be other cyclists far, far fitter than us and they will sneer. It will rain all the time. There will be no shops. We will fight and bicker. Bert will not be able to find any caves to explore and the beds in our B&B will have nylon counterpanes. One or both of us will die.
If we survive it I’ll be back here on Monday. As Bert says, it’s only Galloway we’re going to, not bloody Mongolia!