My local bookshop has a new sign in the window – “Please note; the post-apocalyptical fiction section has been moved to current affairs.” It’s hard to disagree. What with burning rainforests; Alabama rolling back abortion rights; Trump trumpeting his ‘alternative facts’ ; Putin’s posturing and Kim jong un and macho co, strutting around the world stage metaphorically comparing the size of their appendages in the shape of nuclear missiles…oh and not to forget – Brexit, pursued by bear – it’s hard not to think that ‘optimism’ is an ocular ailment.
But it’s important not to become Eyore-esque, because new research proves that optimists live longer than pessimists. Yep. Apparently, optimism lowers blood pressure and boosts your immune system which increases longevity.
And, despite the deluge of doom and gloom courtesy of the 24 hour news cycle, it helps to remember that there are many reasons to be cheerful. The world is getting better not worse. Child mortality rates, oil spills, HIV infections and deaths in war or from natural disaster all are plummeting. Cereal yields have almost trebled since the 1960’s. A majority of humanity (56%) now lives in democracies, compared with just 1% a century ago. About 88% of us enjoy access to clean water, while, thanks to a relaxation of censorship, also able to indulge a dirtier mind.
Yes, terrible things are still happening, and 1 bn people survive on around $1 a day, but the miraculous march of human progress is nonetheless, a reality.
Aussies are world-famous for our upbeat, ‘no worries’, can-do positivity. I think it’s due to our inauspicious beginnings as inmates in the world’s biggest open prison. The dregs of British society, including my own rellos, were exported to the other side of the world, with limbo-low hopes of survival. But, while this exile to Social Siberia should have been a disaster, what this unique experiment that became Australia proves, is that unshackled from the class system, and with the oxygen of optimism and opportunity, people thrived.
The future generations which sprung from these scrapings off the bottom of the biological barrel, pioneered much social justice, including universal suffrage and votes for women. My favourite example of an optimistic Aussie go-getter, was Vida Goldstein. Vida, the Edwardian Germaine Greer, was instrumental in winning women both the right to vote and stand in federal elections, way back in 1902, two decades before Britain. (Though shamefully not all got the right to vote, with indigenous women being left out in in the electoral cold.)
These resilient and buoyant Aussie suffragettes actually played a huge role in the fight to win British women the vote. In the struggle for emancipation, Goldstein was the visionary Emeline Pankhurst turned to for advice on how to lift the spirits of demoralized British campaigners. Charismatic and clever Vida, whose wit sharp was enough to survive any ‘close shave’, was invited in 1911 to address all the major British suffragette rallies. More than 10,000 people flocked to hear this rockstar in a ruffled bodice, lecture at the Albert Hall.
Not to forget Muriel Matters. This cheeky, aptly-named South Australian suffragette became the first woman to speak in the British parliament in 1906 by chaining herself to an iron grille in the ladies gallery of the House of Commons, pressing her nose to it and shouting: ‘The women of England demand the vote. For too long we have been kept behind this grille.”
The police couldn’t remove the chains quickly enough, so they unscrewed the grille and by doing so, placed her on the floor of the House … Which is why Muriel was able to claim the honour of being the first woman to speak in the House of Commons. Whenever I’m in Adelaide, I make a pilgrimage to see this over-wrought-iron monument to optimism, which is on display in their parliament.
Over a 100 year later, it’s still women who prove to be our greatest source of global optimism, as they help to heal the planet. When feeling deflated, it’s young female activists who raise my spirits – like 15 year old environmentalist Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Allaa Salah, who stood up against oppression in Pakistan and Sudan and Emma Gonzalez, who survived the Florida Stoneman Douglas High school shooting and is now taking aim at the gun lobby by shooting from the lip.
So, pessimists, take my advice. When you’re looking at your glass, choose the half full option by simply remembering – if you laugh, the world laughs with you; but if you cry – you get salt in your champers.
And if you want to raise your spirits, then do come along and have a few laughs at my little Girls’ Night Out show, in Sydney on November 1st and Melbourne on the 4th.
See you there for some fun and frivolity!
Date: Friday, 1 November 2019 @ 8:00pm
Venue: Seymour Centre
Tickets: Click here or call Seymour Centre Box Office 9351 7940
Date: Monday, 4 November 2019 @ 8:00pm
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre
Tickets: Click here or call Ticketek 132 849
Tickets and more information here.
What do women really want in bed? Breakfast. Oh, and a good book. If you’re looking for a funny, frivolous yet feisty new read, do slip between my covers. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Here’s a selection of scribblings in which I peel down to my emotional underwear – a psychological striptease that occasionally reveals all.
I think women are each other’s human Wonderbras – uplifting, supportive and making each other look bigger and better.
If he wants breakfast, tell him to sleep in the kitchen.
Men think monogamy is something you make dining tables out of.
Many marriages break up for religious reasons – he thinks he’s a god and she doesn’t.
Love prepares you for marriage the way needlepoint prepares you for round-the-world solo yachting.
Boys will be boys, and so will a load of middle-aged boys who should know better.
Ladies who lynch.
No wife ever shot a husband while he was vacuuming.
I think therefore I’m divorced.
All husbands think they’re Gods. If only their wives weren’t atheists.
Happy wife = happy life.
I couldn’t ask for a better husband… as much as I’d bloody well like to.
Statistically, 100% of divorces begin with marriage.
Marriage is nature’s way of promoting masturbation.
Marriage is a fun-packed, frivolous activity – only occasionally resulting in death.
It’ll be an amicable split. You’ll both get 50 % of the acrimony.
A new invention is required. The monogamous husband. Patent Pending.
How Do I Hate Thee? Let me Count the Ways.
My wedding vows didn’t say To Love, Hoover and Obey.
I’m Having my period so can therefore legally kill you.
You are going to enjoy this marriage, even if I have to divorce you to do so.
A happy marriage is like an orgasm – many of them are faked.
All this emphasis on women faking orgasms, but what about men faking foreplay?
Why do men like intelligent women? Because opposites attract.
Why don’t women tell jokes? Because we marry them.
What does a woman really want in bed? Breakfast.
For women, life is full of lies – I mean doctors maintain that wrinkles don’t hurt.
Legal aid cuts prove that the Tories believe a person is innocent until proven destitute.
Sexist men are so stupid it makes you want to take the ‘men’ out of Mensa.
If a man ever tells you that women fall at his feet – it’s only because he gets them drunk first.
A woman must always fight back. Never just lie back and think of Canberra.
The best cure for menopause is the toy boy diet. A case of having Your Beefcake and Eating It Too.
I don’t fake orgasms. I’m faking being six foot one and seven stone.
Trophy wives tarnish quickly and then get left on the shelf.
Lawyers work 24/7. The partners of lawyers suffer from a bad case of subpoena envy.
Most shrinks should book an appointment with themselves.
The question on the minds of most women is – why doesn’t chocolate go straight to your boobs?
Don’t fall for a man’s puppy dog look… Just get him wormed.
It’s been so long since a man has touched me, not even medical science will want my body.
My top tip for keeping your youth? Lock him in the pool house.
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