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Radio Kent’s Andy Garland monthly musings

PUBLISHED: 12:03 10 June 2016

Happiness is a day at the beach with your best friend

Happiness is a day at the beach with your best friend

Archant

The producer and broadcaster on the joys of friendship, choosing the path less travelled and simply being happy

What makes you truly happy?

You. Not your significant other, parents, siblings or friends, but you. You might want to take a moment, as so often in life we subsume our own needs to those of others. Women it seems to me fall foul of this more than men.

Us blokes often fulfil our own needs and wants, be they fishing, football or fast cars. I was never that interested in the latter, preferring instead the quirky character of a Mini, the practicality of a creaking transit or the laid-back groove of a convertible classic.

But when was the last time you did the thing that makes you truly fulfilled? I’m incredibly fortunate to be in the position of being happy at work. When the red light goes on in the studio I’m as happy as a pig in er…clover.

It was truly a eureka moment when I realised for the first time, that this was ‘my thing.’ And having been away from the sharp end of broadcasting for much of the first part of this year, I’ve found the return to the hurly-burly of live radio so stimulating. It’s the unpredictable nature of debate, the cut and thrust of the live interview and the thrill of living by your wits.

Taking some of that randomness and then injecting it into daily life is something I’ve begun to pursue; it makes me happy.

So when visiting a garden and confronted by the choice of two meandering paths I choose the direction of my non-dominant hand. Out on the bike on my usual 10-mile route around the woods, I’ll take a previously untravelled, left turn down a narrow lane with grass growing up the middle to see where it leads; in stationary traffic on the A303, abandon our usual route and strike out to reveal ye olde England through the Deverills and down into Mere.

Right now, I’m doing none of those things, yet life’s random filter has rolled its die to bring me to this day and this place, in this company and I could hardly be happier. I’m sat on Whitstable beach, evading a sharp easterly by hunkering down between the groynes, a steep fall of shingle takes us down to the water’s edge.

Numerous children are having fun throwing stones, paddling and the youngest, face still smeary with tomato ketchup, is quite content to simply bash two stones together.

We’re not DFL’s, artsy-types or hipsters who are much in evidence as they stroll past; we are simply a group of parents, six of whom 20 years ago were thrown together in a vortex of university friendship, halls of residence allocation chance and I guess a sense of shared values.

Those six housemates have grown to include husbands, of which I am one, wives, and children; they’re not all here, though – we skyped a missing couple last night from San Francisco; crazy that when we first knew each other that was still in the realm of science fiction.

But as the sun beats down, I am struck by the randomness of this moment, individuals hailing from Devon, Essex, Buckinghamshire, Lancashire and Kent, each now with children playing and shrieking together as new friends as we mark what is a tripartite 40th birthday celebration.

Tonight we will share food, drink beer and reminisce about staying up all night at summer balls where we danced to the Spin Doctors, Kingmaker and the Levellers before going to McDonalds at the top of Canterbury High Street for breakfast. And although our reality these days is eyelids dropping and heads nodding before 11pm, we are friends, we are together and we are happy. w

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