It is one of Monty Python’s finest moments; the moment when Nothing Happened.
The antihero of this antihappening masterpiece is Ralph Melish, an insurance file clerk from Peterborough.
“Scarcely able to believe his eyes,” it runs, “Ralph Melish looked down.
“But one glance confirmed his suspicions. Behind a bush, on the side of the road, there was no severed arm. No dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties. No head in a bag. Nothing. Not a sausage.
“For Ralph Melish, this was not to be the start of any trail of events which would not, in no time at all, involve him in neither a tangled knot of suspicion, nor any web of lies, which would, had he been not uninvolved, surely have led him to no other place, than the central criminal court of the Old Bailey.”
So often, Nothing Happens.
Yesterday was Phil’s birthday. He got up early and padded downstairs where there was not a gleaming red ferrari waiting for him. Nor was there a party of 300 yelling ‘surprise’. At no point did he dodge the paparazzi staking out the exit. He did not board a jet plane to The Big Apple for celebrations of his non-existent retrospective at the Guggenheim.
No: he pottered downstairs and discovered his birthday present, a large ungainly item with a flex hanging from it.
It was a posh coffee maker. Beside it sat three packets of fresh coffee.
It was surrounded by birthday cards from his nearest and dearest: me, his mother, the kids, the dog. Happy birthday, the kids had jotted creatively: you’re half way to ninety now.
He worked from home yesterday. The dog greeted him early, tidy and preppily shorn, in a new fur-trimmed parka; bought because, as we all know, Phil finds dogs in clothes endlessly amusing. Phil was delighted.
As he worked during the morning, Felix carefully constructed a birthday space lunar landing model for Phil out of K’nex construction kit. It is now parked on Phil’s bedside table pending permission to launch.
And during the afternoon, Maddie made a birthday cake. She’s good at that: she knows the routine. We tried a ganache but accidentally burnt the chocolate, so it became a sinful fresh cream cake.
Phil loves nothing more than to burn things. His pyromania has been healthily channeled into an enormous chiminea in the back garden, and with blatant obsession Phil finished work at five and padded outside to set fire to things.
He sent us all out to scavenge for wood in the forest. We never buy charcoal. Our chicken and burgers and sausages are wood-smoked.
An hour or so later a moderate gathering: us, Phil’s mother, my father – professed ourselves full. We had devoured the barbecue food and moved onto cream cake. Phil had made the last round of coffee for the day. The children had tried coffee, though their tiny cups remained virtually untouched.
Nothing Happened. Nothing of huge consequence.
Yet, somehow, everyone was very happy.
There must be something we can learn from this.
Written in response to Side View’s Weekend Theme: Things that make me happy. You can find the challenge here.