Do we really have the happiest places in the UK or are we just too easily pleased?

Lies, damn lies and subeditors.. Same as last year. ?  Does Northern Ireland really boast the happiest places in the UK? So the past is  over and done with, right?  Maybe we’d better look a bit deeper…

Jenny McCartney the rather fierce daughter of the fierce Bob QC, ex MP, in her Telegraph  column gives away the secret of life if you’ve been reared in the Gold Coast. Northern Ireland is pleasantly empty if you’re not set among the huddled masses and can drive quickly past the riot debris and protest camps on your way to the Turner Prize.

In fact, rural Northern Ireland in general performed stupendously well on the   happiness index. Seven of the 11 “happiest” places hail from there: Moyle, Lisburn, Limavady, Banbridge, Carrickfergus and Down, all place-names that echoed around my childhood (our family home was on the bit of County Down that abuts Belfast Lough). Yet there is not an international stampede to live in this blessed place, while in the south-east of England the population is packed in like pilchards in a series of increasingly small and expensive tins (which may, of course, have something to do with why folk in Northern Ireland, luxuriating in green space, appear more content).

Despite all that we’re still not absolutely guaranteed a place in the recognition stakes. There are definitional issues if you’re  the media for somewhere else and need to muscle  in on the happiest quotients. What’s a “place” anyway? What’s a town? How does Enniskillen compare with lovely Sheffield? What come to think of it, are “Britain” and “the UK”? (Oh please don’t tell me, I didn’t mean it).

What’s this about Orkney in the Mirror?  Have they left us out of the UK again?  Snooty old Channel 4 News  unilaterally expel us and Scotland too, the closet republicans;  and even manage to drag Stephen Lawrence into it .  At last!  We ‘ve found a familiar grievance to make us even happier. How dare you ignore us; we may be small but… the Titanic, the Somme, Ruby Murray, Rory McIlroy, etc etc.     

But it’s Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times (£) who  effortlessly wins the Slugger prize for cynicism

Six of the 10 “happiest” places in the United Kingdom are situated in Northern Ireland. This “news” has shocked some mainland commentators, but it doesn’t surprise me. Marching up and down wearing bowler hats and occasional knee-capping are enjoyable activities that help to foster a sense of community, and hence contentment.

So, too, does mutual loathing based on ill-conceived religious and political certitudes. There is nothing quite so life-affirming as knowing you are utterly right and those people over there are utterly wrong… It is doubt that fosters unhappiness.

Ring a bell with anyone?

Discover more from Slugger O'Toole

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

We are reader supported. Donate to keep Slugger lit!

For over 20 years, Slugger has been an independent place for debate and new ideas. We have published over 40,000 posts and over one and a half million comments on the site. Each month we have over 70,000 readers. All this we have accomplished with only volunteers we have never had any paid staff.

Slugger does not receive any funding, and we respect our readers, so we will never run intrusive ads or sponsored posts. Instead, we are reader-supported. Help us keep Slugger independent by becoming a friend of Slugger. While we run a tight ship and no one gets paid to write, we need money to help us cover our costs.

If you like what we do, we are asking you to consider giving a monthly donation of any amount, or you can give a one-off donation. Any amount is appreciated.