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27 February 2011

Forgetting the things we like

A few years ago I was sitting on a slow bus to London, and heard a young woman telling her boyfriend about how much she used to enjoy ceilidhs. She got very enthusiastic about it, but then said "But I don't go any more. It's not very cool, is it?" Her useless lump of a boyfriend completely ignored this open goal, and it was left to me to say "Don't worry about whether it's cool or not. If you like ceilidhs, and you obviously do, you ought to go to them. If your useless lump of a boyfriend won't go with you, you should dump him because he's obviously dangerously scared of new experiences, and, if I may say so, shows a distressingly small desire to do things that might make you happy. I'll go with you."

Of course I didn't say that, but I should have. Some of it at least. Why do people stop doing things that make them happy? I'm the last person to answer the question because I spent years not cycling, and now I've rediscovered something else I more or less stopped doing.

For a few years I was a pretty solid vegetarian, but then I started eating fish now and again, and then, fatally, I started going to Spain. There is a vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona, but it's a long way to go when you're in Extremadura, for example, where bits of pig are part of every thing you might be served. So I'm carnivorous again, and the arguments in favour of vegetarianism aren't strong enough for me to change back.

But recently I've discovered the joy of home-cooked vegetable curry again. The recipe is simple. Fry some onions and garlic in oil. Grind up a selection of spices, and fry them off in the oil. Take whatever vegetables you have - carrots, parsnip, potato, peas, cauliflower - and dice them. Fry them lightly in the oil then add a tin of tomatoes, and maybe some yogurt, and simmer till cooked. Sprinkle with garam masala and coriander leaves and serve with simple basmati rice. Quick, easy, and very tasty, so why did I stop cooking and eating it?

People are stupid would be my conclusion, but that's not fair. All the evidence so far points to a less flattering conclusion: I am stupid (and so is the woman on the bus, but at least she and I are not useless lumps like her boyfriend).

So the thought for the day is that we should all from time to time think about the things we used to love doing. Why don't we do them any more? What the hell is stopping us?

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