If you're asked by someone what you consider to be life's greatest pleasures it's very easy to lose yourself in a fantasy world of hedonistic partying, piles of cash, or maybe throwing yourself out of a plane wearing a bat suit. I'm sure these things must be wonderful, but not necessarily an option for Joe Average.
The fact is that however mundane we feel life may be, it's full of little pleasures that, when you start to notice them, can be longer lasting and more satisfying than a dusk-to-dawn rave up.
The obvious thing that springs to mind is food and drink. We all eat and we all have foods that send us into mild raptures. These foods are often things that we know we really shouldn't indulge in too often lest we find ourselves on the wrong end of various "who ate all the pies?" jokes. Mmmm....... steak and kidney.......
Chocolate is a common downfall and I'm as guilty as the next chocoholic for destroying an entire 'family size' bar in one sitting. 'Bigger bar for sharing', proclaims the label. Yeah, right. The biggest misnomer in confectionery has to be 'funsize'. A funsize Mars bar is about a third of the size of a regular one. Where's the fun in that? A funsize Mars bar should be two foot long!
I also have a major weakness for cheesecake. Anytime, anywhere, if cheesecake gets wheeled out I'm there for a session. Same goes for lemon meringue pie. Have I had enough? If there's any left then the answer is no, I haven't. There's also the Custard Cream issue. Don't get me started....
It's not just sweet stuff that triggers that feel-good factor either. Roast duck with roast potatoes and a big pile of veg smothered in thick gravy - bliss. The wife's homemade lasagne - heaven. I recently made some red onion chutney. Oh my god.
And then we come to drink. Whether it's a double Americano at Costa, a big mug of Assam, or a nice bottle of Chablis, we can all find pleasure in these things. It's just a question of being in the moment and allowing yourself to become immersed in the experience. There have to be exceptions of course - I can't believe anyone would genuinely want to immerse themselves in the experience of a Big Mac because the only reason you'd eat one at all was because you were desperate and a take-away burger was slightly preferable to eating your own shoe, and even that justification doesn't stop you from feeling shameful and violated afterwards.
Look around and you can always find little things that you probably take for granted, but can appreciate for the pleasure they give if you give them a bit more thought.
I could bang on for ages about the freedom of riding a motorcycle, taking long walks in the countryside, sitting by the open door listening to a raging thunderstorm, and the constant hankering for a bacon sandwich, but everybody's ideas are different.
A couple of days ago I discovered a new little pleasure from a most unlikely source. A knock on the door heralded the arrival of an inspector from the television licensing authority. The conversation went something like this:
TVL: Mr Martin?
TVL: Our records show that your television license has expired
DM: That's right, I cancelled it a while ago.
TVL: Do you have a television set?
TVL: Then I'm going to have to sign you up for a new license..
DM: No you don't. We don't watch TV.
DM: All the TVs are detuned, and there are no aerials.
TVL: Do you mind if I come in and have a look?
DM: Not at all. Of course I know I don't have to let you in....
TVL: That's true
DM: ....but I've got nothing to hide so help yourself. There. No aerial connected, we use it to watch DVDs and Blurays, and we stream content from Lovefilm which we pay a monthly fee for.
TVL: Oh.... Oh, alright then, I'll make a note on your records then to say you don't need a license. Sorry to trouble you.
DM: No problem, goodbye.
Seeing his smug face fall and him sloping off with his tail between his legs was absolutely priceless, and gave me yet another thing to add to my list of life's little pleasures.