>What makes you happy? Only, the UK’s first ‘membership organisation dedicated to spreading happiness’ reckons buying people a drink does you good. The launch of Action for Happiness was widely-covered in the media last week, although by and large it was done in that rather disdainful and finally.. tone reserved for things like UFO sightings, amusingly-shaped vegetables or royal-lookalike confectionary. Radio Four’s Today programme even got in on the act, setting up an experiment in which Vanessa didn’t just buy her own coffee, she bought Terry one as well; Terry then dutifully returned the favour by buying the next person in the queue a drink and so on. But the ripple didn’t get too far back in the queue. Someone decided the decline the offer of the person in front, without really being able to explain why and that was that. Everyone for themselves.
John Humphreys reckoned it failed because it wasn’t done in a pub with people buying each other… well, he stopped himself short in the middle of the word ‘champagne’ and hastily claimed that a ‘pint of bitter’ was his favourite tipple, but it was too late. Champagne Humphreys is clearly his name. And if he’s buying, I’m not arguing. But therein, as someone who could write a bit once said, lies the rub. Because I do go to the pub. And I do buy people drinks. And it doesn’t always make me happy. Let me explain…
If you’re out in a group and you’re buying a round, you aren’t always going to get back what you pay out. In a large group, unless you’ve got a mammoth thirst, there probably isn’t time apart from anything else. But it doesn’t matter; no-one’s counting and it evens itself out over time. But there are some people who seem to manage to avoid putting their hand into their pocket on a regular basis. They’re usually the same people who miraculously appear at the bar at precisely the moment I’m ordering drinks. There are still others who sit and nurse the last few drops of liquid in their glass, sometimes for hours, until the moment someone else gets up to go to the bar.
Well, if that’s what makes you happy I suppose it’s a small price to pay. I’ll try not to let it bother me. After all, as we know, it’s far better to give than receive. So next time I see you I’ll still buy you a drink. But before I do, think how much happier you’d be if you bought one for me. And it would be cruel of me to deny you that pleasure, now wouldn’t it?
So, mine’s a pint.