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Feather's Miscellany: Jollity

John Waddington-Feather believes we were designed to be happy and joyful.

Jollity is part of the human condition. We were designed to be happy and joyful, not always miserable and sad. I do believe that the former state is the more natural and the latter we picked up with the apple in Eden.

Despite what we're told to the contrary, the British are a jolly race and have been, right from their good humoured wassailing days to the cricketing present. Their peculiar jollity is well recorded in novelists from eighteenth century Richardson, through to Dickens and more recently J.B.Priestley, a very jolly man despite his dour looks.

Jollity is the seeking out of the good things of life, then sharing them with our fellow men and women. Jollity goes hand in hand with piety at our major religious festivals: Christmas, Easter and Pentecost - all joyful rites. It is at the heart of our baptisms, weddings (as at Cana, where our Lord turned water into wine when jollity was flagging) and, dare I say, at funeral wakes when good times and good people are remembered.

Jollity is the sorely needed antidote to the misery which surrounds us. What more jolly cricket matches have been played than the series for the Ashes in 2006 against the Australians? Displayed in the players' faces of that hard-fought series were effort, determination, anguish during the game, but on the same faces as the players left the pitch, arms around each other, was jollity.

Right it is that the word "jolly" has passed into the language to describe someone or something filled with jollity. We have a jolly good day out. We all have jolly good friends. We play a jolly good game of football, or cricket or tennis. We even experience jolly fine weather.

By all means, let us take the world seriously, but let life be leavened with jollity.

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