Friday, 12 February 2016

What makes women happy?

Pondering a list of things that supposedly make women happy, Jane Green finds several to dispute, and one serious omission

Written by Jane Green
said there were certain things all adult women need in order to be happy. These things appear to be (in no particular order): casseroles, fresh flowers, white wine, terrariums, mason jars, clear complexions, an ottoman, a lemonade pitcher and a man.

I have been thinking hard about this somewhat obscure list. Some of the things I most certainly agree with. A delicious, aromatic casserole, for example, simmering on the stove on a cold winter’s day, always makes me happy. An ottoman makes me very happy too (I do love a tufted ottoman with a tray on top, stacked high with books and knick-knacks, ready for the tray to be whisked off at any given moment for a spot of extra seating).

White wine tends to give me migraines rather than waves of happiness, but I am willing to concede that the thought of drinking wine is indeed a good one.

Very close to my home there is a fantastic shop that is huge, with giant industrial garage doors that slide up into the ceiling and open into a fabulous garden. There is a cafe and a restaurant, and it is all furnished with reclaimed wood and is unutterably cool. I go there several times a week, but always leave empty-handed, for the only thing they seem to sell in any quantity are terrariums of various shapes and sizes, and plants that go inside them.

I am not the slightest bit tempted by the terrariums. My thumbs are spectacularly green when it comes to the garden – I can make almost anything thrive with a bit of help from the sun and good soil, but when it comes to keeping plants indoors, let’s just say my house is where they come to die.

For a very long time the plant of choice was an orchid. Every time someone came over for dinner they brought with them a large and spectacular Phalaenopsis orchid, and each time my heart sank. I knew that however beautiful it looked on arrival, it was only ever a matter of weeks before it was dried out and on its way to an early death. I tried putting an ice cube in the soil once a week; I tried moving them to a brighter spot, a less bright spot, but nothing worked.

Now, when someone gives me an orchid, I give it to someone else as soon as I can. Fresh flowers, though, make me happy. Particularly peonies, sweet peas and hydrangeas.

Lemonade pitchers are completely irrelevant to my life. Mason jars do indeed make me happy, particularly the ones that have small tea lights in them and hang from the beams of my pergola.

Clear complexions are a given, which brings me to the final thing: a man. This is what I cannot stop thinking about. I do have a man, and I will say he makes me happy. But the man before did not make me happy, and so I am not prepared to accept that a man makes you happy. The right man can make you very happy indeed, but heaven forbid you make the wrong choice – no amount of white wine or fresh flowers will soothe your soul.

And so I don’t believe a man is needed to be happy. However, chocolate very definitely is. Rather worryingly, they forgot to add chocolate to the list of things needed to make a woman happy.

Which means, frankly, I can’t believe a word of it.

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