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Happiness Is Preferable

by Nick Holloway

Today's post comes from poet and puppeteer Molly Naylor. You can catch her in her poet guise tonight (Apr 6) at Salena Godden's Book Club Boutique in Soho. She'll also be performing an extract from her first solo show, There Will Be Glamour, at Norwich Arts Centre on May 8. Learn more about her on our list of contributors.

I’ve been thinking about happiness. And misery. As a teenager - and embarrassingly far into my twenties - I carried misery around with me in a black army-surplus bag decorated with badges that said things like ‘shit off, you twat’. Along with this misery there was a copy of The Queen Is Dead, a packet of Golden Virginia and two raisin and biscuit Yorkies.

My milking of the whole misery vibe was epitomised by the night of my Year Eleven Prom in 1999. I spurned this auspicious occasion to spend the evening at a train station with a bottle of White Lightning and a boy who had been expelled the previous week for being just way too out there (he wrote ‘me feelin da titty nipples’ under Carol Ann Duffy’s name in the AQA GCSE poetry anthology).

Over time I realised that this bag o’ misery is not conducive to anything productive. Happiness is preferable. But even wearing dresses with flowers on and looking at pictures of puppies regularly couldn't stave off the creeping misery of the winter just gone. It something went like this: Graduate from Masters. Try and be proper writer. Have no money. Lose faith in writing. Sign up with a care work agency run by a man whose actual name is Mike Grief. Wipe way too many arses under Grief’s minimum-wage wrath whilst telling myself it’s character building. Watch too much Seinfeld.

You get the picture. So after these dark times I’m welcoming spring with unbridled hope and enthusiasm. Feelings you can share in too, thanks to my now-patented four-part plan for the acquisition of joy.


In November I had a brief and beautiful period of respite when the puppet company I work for sent me to Florida for three sun-kissed days with my friend Tom Clutterbuck. We had to work two fifteen minute sets a day, and for the rest of the time we went to the beach. It was here that I discovered an activity that brought me more joy than Seinfeld, Yorkies and Mozza ever have. Jumping.

Tom and I started off doing Ironic Jumping. At first we thought ‘Imagine the kind of twats that take pictures of each other jumping’ whilst taking pictures of each other jumping. But it soon turned into ‘dude, you got some serious air that time’.


Come February and the emergence of those lovely yellow crocuses I experienced a crashing realisation that I watch too much TV. This realisation involved a documentary about The Pussycat Dolls (I use the word documentary with heavy sarcasm, by the way. Docu-from-Hades is more like it). Though quick to claim it, what these prancing bell-ends (is bell-end hyphenated? Bellend?) do is not feminism. It is gross consumerism that appropriates feminist rhetoric in an attempt to justify getting one’s baps out for the lads. After that, it was goodbye telly. I unplugged my aerial, cancelled my TV licence (or at least stopped pretending I was ever going to buy one) and started putting the three hours a day I would spend in front of the dreaded box to better use. No more Paris Hilton’s BBF for me. I started baking, walking places and even befriended a German who lets me use the sauna he has built in his back garden.


With more spare time I began looking for work to support my gigging and writing that didn't involve wiping anyone’s arse but my own. I started doing drama and poetry projects in schools, after the first session of which a mop-haired five-year-old called Harry wandered up to me and said 'That was pretty good. But next time, can you bring an octopus and a rhino?’ Fair and useful feedback, I thought. It made me consider having a child myself one day, although - after trying to make it cute and wacky by calling it Caspian and dressing it in Iron Maiden babygrows - it would probably be wearing grey suits and calling itself Ian by the time it was nine.


Jogging: don’t hate me. I’m not suggesting you start eating well and drinking five litres of water a day and all that twaddle. But I can tell you that the euphoria of jogging in slow-mo to Elton John’s Tiny Dancer made me realise three things – a) I am a bit of a prick, b) the lyrics to the song aren't ‘Hold me closer, tie me down sir’, and c) it’s good to be happy.


  1. I was thinking of Who’s The Boss?, in fact.

    But bravo you.

  2. Excellent post, Molly Naylor. I wish I could have come to see you in Soho, it sounds like you probably rock.

    • Anonymous

    ’I thought it was ’Hold me closer, Tony Danza’.

    No, you didn’t. You saw it being misinterpreted as that on the insipid American sit-com, ’The Gang’. Say sorry.

    Skipper, lovely stuff! x

    • Anonymous

    I thought it was ’Hold me closer, Tony Danza’.