How To Do Everything And Be Happy

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Words of Wisdom

lennonYou’ll remember that one of my favourite quotes is this:-

Everything will be all right in the end.
If it’s not all right,
it’s not the end.

I’m quite fond of quotes. Here are some others that strike a chord with me.

  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just want pay cheques.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive more than once.
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
  • Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.
  • Always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  • When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  • The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Never let a fool kiss you and never let a kiss fool you.

and finally

  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit ‘the target’.

Feel free to share some of your favourite quotes in the comments below or on the facebook page.


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Meeting Your Heroes

steve wright

Things have been a tad crazy round here lately.

For instance, on Wednesday I was supposed to be writing a new WTFHIBD post for this blog but instead author Della Galton and myself were special guests on ‘Steve Wright In The Afternoon‘, on BBC Radio 2, talking about our book How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim

It was kinda momentous! I’ve listened to Steve for more years than I care to mention – in fact there was a period in my late teens where Steve inspired me to consider pursuing a career in broadcasting. This in turn led to me torturing hospital patients  in various Essex hospitals via hospital radio. If you happened to be in St John’s hospital during the late 80s, or Basildon Hospital in the early 1990s, I apologise profusely. Fortunately for everyone, like my ambitions of becoming an astronaut, a train driver or a fireman, I gave up on those dreams – Steve Wright on the other is still going strong.

Apparently Steve was keen to get us onto the show after reading the title of our book, and though the interview is quite quick – just over five minutes long – we still manage to discuss the concept of the book, how hunger really works, the mysterious oil diet, Della’s fat-free cooking principles, how to survive social eating, why diets don’t work, and why making lots of small changes does. Phew! But I’d have been happy just to shake the man by the hand.

If you’ve examined my Now List in any detail you’ll notice I have a section entitled ‘Sometime, maybe’ for those things that seem incredibly out of reach, but after Wednesday my dreams of having dinner with Imogen Heap, working with Steven Moffat, or appearing on Saturday Kitchen seem just a tiny bit more obtainable.

You can still listen to the interview over on the BBC website (or click the image below).


To listen to other radio interviews (and audio content) about How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim click here

How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim is available, now, in three formats.


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To Begin With

The opening Chapter from ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy’…

Once upon a time I got sold a dream: I would grow up big and strong, marry a blonde (my mother was convinced of this), have children, and live happily ever after in a big house, whilst I held down a job as an astronaut. Or a train driver. Or a how-to-be-an-astronaught-230x300fireman. And this wasn’t a ‘maybe’ – something to aspire to – this was my God given right. This is what was going to happen. All I had to do was wait.

Not that I was very good at waiting. I’m still not very good at waiting! I wanted this idyllic life now. I didn’t want to wait until next week or some other distant point in the future. I must have told my parents this because they would smile and tell me not to be in such a rush. “Peter,” they would say, “schooldays are the best days of your life.”

Obviously they were mistaken. They had to be. When my parents’ eyes glazed over and they talked fondly of ‘schooldays’ they must have been recalling the days of their own distant childhood, days sitting around camp fires outside the school mud hut, marking bits of slate with chalk whilst village elders told stories of dragons. Their schooldays were clearly a far cry from the mixture of humiliation, bullying and boredom that I endured. They had to be. Because if they weren’t, for schooldays to be the ‘best’ days they would logically have to be followed by ‘something worse.’

Then I got older, and things got worse.

Actually, that’s not quite true. They didn’t get any worse – not really – but they certainly didn’t get much better, and they definitely got more complex.

‘Work’ turned out to be very similar to ‘school’ – different bullies, same rules, just as boring. And whereas I was given money in return for surrendering five days out of seven – more money than I’d ever dreamed possible – now there was a slew of people queuing up to take it away from me.

And then there were relationships. Just when I’d got classroom note passing down to a fine art, the game changed completely, and note passing wasn’t going to cut it.
I could go on, but suffice it to say, the initial ‘dream’ seemed less and less likely. It was clear that I was never going to be an astronaut. Or a train driver. Or a fireman. It also seemed unlikely that I would ever live in a big house. Big houses needed big money. I was on small to medium money. Two bedroom flat money.

Finally, on my thirty second birthday, I realised there was a distinct possibility that I might never ever find ‘the blonde’.
This was a serious blow. Without the blonde I might never be married, I might never have children – and whilst I could probably cope without being married or having kids, or my blonde actually being a blonde, I couldn’t imagine being single for the rest of my days. That was unacceptable. Something had to be done.

So, for the first time in my life, I started to plan – to make lists, and take control of my own destiny. Many of the techniques in this book are nothing more than the skills I had to develop to avoid a life of bachelorhood. But it worked. Eventually I found the blonde. Took me a few more years, considerable effort on my part, and a somewhat unorthodox approach to dating, but I found her.

And we did marry.

And when she died in my arms three years later I was heartbroken.

People rarely ask me how Kate died. It’s just not the sort of question they feel comfortable asking. Most assume she must have had cancer – that we’d have had some warning. We didn’t.

I was off to our place in Croatia for a few days to finish my novel. Kate drove me to the airport and as she dropped me off she gave me the world’s biggest hug, bit back a few tears, thumped me in the arm, and told me she loved me – and that I’d better call her when I got to the other end.

I walked towards the main airport building, turned to give her one last wave. Something wasn’t right. I could see our car, but not her.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur. I remember dropping my bags and running back to our vehicle. Taking her in my arms. The lady police officer trying to revive her. I remember the paramedics, the ambulance helicopter, being rushed to the hospital in the back of a police car. And I remember that god awful waiting room, the stoney faces of the doctors as they told me there was nothing they could do, that my wife was gone, and that they’d be switching off the life support machine.

Several hours later I drove our car back to an empty house.

I’ve learnt since that deaths like this – a sub-arachnoid haemorrhage, according to the certificate – are surprisingly common. Kate had a weak part in her brain – probably since birth – it could have happened at any moment. It was almost inevitable.

I’ve learnt too that after the shock comes the guilt. Every cross word, every nasty thought, every lie – they all come back to haunt you. And amongst the demons that were queuing up to torment me was the realisation that I wasn’t happy, and maybe, I never had been.

There had been happy moments, of course. Quite a lot of moments. Most of them in the previous three years, and most of them down to Kate, but they were moments none the less. I wanted to be happy all the time. Not just occasionally. Not just for a moment. And for the second time in my life I decided to tackle a problem in the only way I knew how: by making plans, and lists, and taking control of my own destiny.

Welcome to ‘How To Do Everything and Be Happy!’ If you’re dissatisfied with your life, this book may be for you. If you want to do something – anything – to increase the amount of happiness you feel, this book is probably for you. And if you know how to use a pencil, if you own a diary, if you can make a list, if you’re moderately organised, or could be if you had a good enough reason to be, then this book is definitely for you.

Now then, let me tell you about this dream that I have for you…

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Listen to an interview with the author here

Find out what others are saying about the book here

Purchase the book here