The DS Chirpy Checklist
Feeling blue? Tired of hearing about economic gloom, spiralling unemployment figures and Lance Armstrong? Perhaps you’re wondering why ferret weddings aren’t getting enough press these days? Here’s a quick rundown of the things that are helping DS to smile though the gloom this month.
The Ferret Wedding
We are loving this story from County Durham, telling us that a date of Christmas Eve has been set for the matrimonial union of Lady Truffle and Crusher Hoblet – two ferrets that have kindly agreed (we assume) to have coverage of their big day broadcast to ferret enthusiasts around the world. As the Northern Echo reports, the event will be viewed by almost 200 people worldwide and it is hoped this will promote the work of North Pennine Ferret Welfare. It has been announced that there will be a Rolls Royce, ferret ushers (so we imagine any rabbits in attendance will be well behaved) and a lavish reception to boot.
This is such a cutesy and groovy story that we’re crossing all of our fingers and toes in the hope that it doesn’t go the way of so many other weddings that have courted publicity and then been unable to shed it. A few years down the line, the last thing we want is some lurid tabloid headlines of some fake-tanned, harlot lady-ferret telling the redtops about her “night of passion with married ferret celeb”, followed by a five-page spread of Lady Truffle relaxing by the pool in Barbados under the headline “I still love Crusher, but I can’t forgive his betrayal”.
Regardless of how it turns out; yesterday we had never heard of North Pennine Ferret Welfare. But today we have. So touché.
The Emergency Cute Stuff Twitter Feed
Here’s a moment you may have witnessed recently; a sullen citizen (male or female) trudges through the street, joylessly tapping away on their mobile phone. Then for no apparent reason they suddenly emit a delighted and high-pitched “Awhh!!” that’s loud enough to set off car alarms. Or perhaps you’ve walked nervously past a group of hooded youths, trying to avoid eye contact, and been surprised when one of them glances at their iPhone and goes “Holy s**t bruv, diss baby koala bear is cute as f**k, innit?”
The likelihood is that these people are checking out the Emergency Cute Stuff (@emergencypuppy) Twitter feed. The name is probably self-explanatory, but it’s basically a feed that posts a disarmingly adorable animal photo every day and nothing else. DS has calculated (using a complex algorithm) that following this feed will improve your rating on the newly-made-up Chirpiness Scale by 31.8% on average. We’re talking hedgehogs in Halloween costumes, new-born mice, swimming piglets, baby elephants. It’s like the happy and romantic antithesis of that scene from A Clockwork Orange.
The art of using cute animal photos to vanquish sad and angry thoughts is well documented in the masses of psychology research we haven’t done, but maybe it’s time to implement this ability on a larger scale. A quick flick down the Emergency Cute Stuff feed will leave you so hopelessly disarmed that you’ll be wondering “do the government know about this?”. Surely what we have here is the basis for a mass campaign of anti-war propaganda. Think about it; political and religious wars have been raging pretty much non-stop since the dawn of man and are accepted as a tragic but intrinsic facet of human nature that no amount of goodwill and/or reason can diffuse, but has anyone ever really tried the cute animal approach? Could violence and bloodshed really prevail in an environment where every wall, vehicle and billboard is covered with massive pictures of fluffy little doe-eyed baby seals, their heads tilted adorably to one side, with a little speech bubble saying “Religious war? That will never get my seal of approval.”
We think not.
“Drunk Australian Rides Crocodile”
This is surely the headline of the year. Massive kudos to the BBC who not only reported this story, but also posted a video interview with Michael Newman – the inebriated Aussie who looked at a sixteen-foot-long saltwater crocodile and was undeterred by the lack of coin slot. The report says Mr Newman was thrown out of his local pub for being too drunk and then, deciding to forego the traditional trip to the chippy, headed instead for the local zoo. He then scaled the safety fence (surely the name of the fence was a clue) and jumped straight onto the back of ‘Fatso’, presumably waving a straw hat around above his head a shouting “ye-haw!”.
After having a significant amount of flesh and thigh muscle ripped from his leg by a disgruntled croc with outstanding reflexes, the man escaped the enclosure and, we are told, decided to break from tradition again by staggering not to A&E, but…back to the pub.
The whole point of this column is to bring forth some optimistic and cheerful thoughts to help raise a smile during a tough day, and of course we are not suggesting that drunkenness, trespassing and serious injury are things to be heartened by. Oh no; we see this story for what it really is. This is a story that celebrates that most precious and celebrated human attribute – ambition. Michael Newman was not content to just get drunk and start a fight with the first alpha male that took a shine to the same Sheila as him. No, in the spirit of Neil Armstrong and Felix Baumgartner, Newman was thinking BIG. He didn’t seek a few rounds of ill-advised fisticuffs with the biggest guy propping up the bar at his local pub, he didn’t even stumble out into the streets and go looking for the biggest guy in town. He mentally mapped out the entire area and identified the biggest, strongest, most lethal killing machine within walking distance, and then found the perfect way get it murderously enraged within a few seconds. Now of course, picking a fight is not so noble an undertaking as space exploration or medical research, but ambition is ambition, regardless.
We all know about the renowned geniuses who push the limits of what can realistically be achieved. We know about Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, John Lasseter, et al. But it’s nice to know that even at the lower end of our evolutionary spectrum, even among the most drunken of idiots and the most idiotic of drunks, human beings are just innately ambitious.
The World’s Biggest Pile of Leaves
Continuing in a similar vein; this may well be the most ambitious, the most joyfully pointless, the most OMW-why-didn’t-I-think-of-that-first YouTube video we’ve ever seen. Throughout history, ordinary human beings have had their bad days improved just a little bit by stepping on those pleasurably crunchy leaves as they walk home from a naff day at work. Just think of that satisfying scrunch you get when you stomp down on a nice crispy and delicately curled up leaf that looks like it’s been sat there all day, just waiting for the sole of your shoe. Then imagine getting several such leaves together for one ultra-satisfying omni-crunch. It’s a nice thought, right? So imagine the sheer euphoria experienced by these three lads from Utah who took the time to accumulate 1,462 bin bags full of leaves, then arranged them into a 17-foot-high pile and took turns jumping into them from their suburban rooftop. Oh yes. We don’t know for sure, but we’re pretty confident that when you trundle through the exit of Thorpe Park or Alton Towers, feeling mildly disappointed, this is the exact experience that your adrenal glands are being starved of. Apart from that fact that it makes us a 7-Up shade of green with envy, we love this video because it reminds us that for all the digital thrills of our generation, for all the Xbox 360s, iPods and Blu-rays, the cheapest and best fun is always there to be had with just plain old analogue silliness.
RAK Week – Random Acts of Kindness
A prior warning; you may need some strong tear ducts for this one. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is an organisation that exists simply to encourage and publicise acts of kindness in all walks of life. Their website is a great shot in the arm if you’re feeling a bit downhearted and cynical; they have lots of little stories of people doing spontaneous good deeds and helping strangers out for nothing in return. It’s like a little good vibes vending machine (minus the payment), and is a great website to have on your favourites. But anyway, the foundation runs an RAK Week every year (scheduled next year for the week commencing February 13th), during which they announce the winner of the Extreme Kindness Challenge. This month, we’ve been welling up like neglected little puppies after watching this video of last year’s winner, Madison ‘Peach’ Steiner. Steiner runs Peach’s Neet Feet – a non-profit organisation that makes unique personalised shoes for kids suffering with cancer, disabilities and other serious long-term illnesses. We highly recommend watching this video, and will be amazed if it doesn’t put a crack in every single stalactite of cynicism hanging from the darkest corner of your frontal lobe.
We also recommend submitting your own RAK story to the website. We especially like this little snippet of info on the FAQs page, in answer to the question “How are you funded?”: “The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation is funded by a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous. This person’s sole purpose in supporting our foundation is to bring more kindness into the world.” – We like this person.
Stay chirpy this month, folks.