A little (comic) relief

Writing these messages week on week is often a pleasure. However, there are times in our history when it’s more difficult to find interesting, motivating and even uplifting messages to share with you.

It’s been a terrifically difficult few years and, more particularly, the last few weeks have been, as you all know, incredibly hard, even horrendous.

How we feel about the (our) world right now may well be pretty downbeat and occasionally we will do that internal ‘beating ourselves up’ because we realise that what we personally face is nothing compared to the horrors faced by many people around the world, day in and day out.

The situation in Ukraine exemplifies those horrors but it doesn’t detract from the fact that war, famine and even natural disasters are taking place somewhere in the world right now.

And so, this week I feel it’s time to be a little bit more upbeat.

Firstly, Middlesbrough Football Club. You will know that I’m a Middlesbrough supporter and a month or so ago I made some comments about Middlesbrough playing Manchester United, at Old Trafford in the 4th round of the FA cup. Since then, having knocked Manchester United out of the cup, they’ve also beaten Tottenham in the fifth round and they face Chelsea tomorrow in the quarter-final.

Come on Boro!

By the time you read this they may well have been ejected from the cup by the European and World Champions but hopefully we’ve had some fun along the way.

Secondly, you know that I like my cricket. Having had an awful winter (Australian summer) with a disastrous Ashes campaign England’s men’s cricket team have undergone their ‘red ball reset’. This has meant that some key senior players and much of the team management have been removed, at least in the short term. The team is now in the Caribbean playing the West Indies (a tough life and a tough job, if you can get it). And what a few days it’s been. A magnificent 153 from Joe Root, an encouraging 91 from Dan Lawrence and blistering 120 from Ben Stokes. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the bowlers will have skittled the Windies out and that upbeat feel continues.

I mustn’t forget the England women’s cricket team either. Having lost their first three games of the one-day World Cup, akin to the men’s team’s failings, they came back with a bang this week, beating India quite convincingly. They’re still in the tournament and let’s hope that progression through to the semi-final and beyond is possible.

And finally, it’s Red Nose Day today.

The Comic Relief charity is an extremely serious business but, over the decades, this charity has raised so much money for people, within this country and around the world, by giving people the opportunity to smile. They say that laughter is the best medicine and, at this time in our history, we could all do with a good giggle. It won’t distract us from, or diminish, what’s happening around the world but it gives us the opportunity to return to those challenges re-energised.

No doubt, many of you will make your regular charitable contribution and in doing so you will know that that contribution will be well used. But don’t see it as a freebie, see it as a payment for the smile that you have been offered, the giggle that has been shared or the hysteria that’s setting in. I’m looking forward to settling down and watching the proceedings this evening.

For just a few hours this weekend; be it watching the football, listening to the cricket or enjoying Comic Relief I think we can all take some time for ourselves, lighten our loads, forget some of our burdens and just enjoy.

We all need to do that and you’ve certainly earned it.

And to make you smile going into the weekend here are some classics…

‘Everybody laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they’re not laughing now.’

 ‘I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my father. Not screaming and terrified like his passengers.’

 ‘A tomcat hijacked a plane, stuck a pistol into the pilot’s ribs and demanded: ‘take me to the canaries.’                  

                                                                        The legendary Bob Monkhouse