“If anyone is feeling anxious, worried or maybe you just want a chat, please, please do not come crying to me.”

Sister Michael

If you haven’t watched the Derry Girls on Channel Four or your Netflix or wherever else you might find it, consider giving it a go. It’s vintage. You might need to brush up a little on the Troubles and (Northern) Irish History to really appreciate the nuances and at times very direct references, but just go with the flow and accept that you won’t get it all the very first time you’re watching it.

It’s terribly funny and full of brilliant one-liners. The one above is by Sister Michael, the catholic head nun in charge of the school the girls attend.

Here are a few more of them.

Orla: “Why’s he making that funny noise?”
Michelle: “He’s English Orla, that’s the way they talk.”

Erin: “You can’t marry an Orangeman Michelle!”
Michelle: “It’s a pity, cos I think there’s something really sexy about the fact that they hate us so much.”

“You can’t ring Childline every time your mother threatens to kill you.” – Michelle

“Sadly, I am unable to come on this one as I despise the French.”Sister Michael declines the chance to join the trip to Paris

The reality of the troubles in the North was, of course, anything but funny.

Take 14-year old Annette.

At first sight, she looks like a Derry Girl. Until you look a bit closer at this Derry mural.

And check out the plaque.

She was shot by a British soldier in 1971, the 100th victim of the troubles and one of the first children to be killed.

Make it a plea for peace and sanity, reads the plaque at the end.

Yesterday, on our way to Hyperbaric Therapy, we saw this billboard, Come on you boys in white, with a guy ripping off his shirt revealing St. George’s Cross painted on his chest, with Paddy Power’s betting firm promising to donate 10,000 euro to Irish Soccer for every goal scored by England in the European Soccer Championships just started.

My guess? Someone would have burnt this billboard off the wall it’s mounted on just a few decades ago.

The point?

You can find laughter and humour in even the most difficult situations. And get people to listen to you. People who would have turned away and continued with their business had you approached them with another piece of dreadful, horrible, hurting news or piece of history.

Last week, Pádraig tried out a new position for switch access to all sorts of potential devices. A great OT we found helped us to identify a position that Pádraig has no problem to control.

The top of his knee. And, of course, there is no problem to put that switch there. Hard to believe that it took so long to identify it though.

Martin Seligman, a professor a the University of Pennsylvania and formerly Cornell, is known for his theories of positive psychology and learned helplessness. His latest book is on The Hope Circuit: A Psychologist’s Journey from Helplessness to Optimism (2018). Brendan O’Connor (remember him?) had him on his Sunday radio show recently. Here is a link to the interview.

Amazingly, Seligman cites research showing that happy people live at least 6 years longer and the effect of not being happy, worrying all the time, has the same effect on your health as smoking three packets of cigarettes a day.

The Centre for Positive Psychology and Health at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, RCSI, have a free online public course on ‘The Science of Health and Happiness’.

So –

Focus on the good stuff. Try to be happy. Do good and help others. – I’ll try that myself.

And then let’s compare notes in a few weeks to see how we’re getting on.

Maybe we can change the world. Or, at least, our lives and that of those around us.

It’s not just healthier, it is our responsibility.