Life is better (and worse) than you think.

There's a lot of serious illness in my family. Too much. It's the sort of thing that makes a person always tensed for bad news.

Waiting for the next shoe to drop, however, there's time for taking stock. Nothing so maudlin as counting one's blessings, but just a few reminders about how things could be worse.

  1. Despite the insane popularity of horrible dystopian novels, our part of the world is not yet flooded, blackened or destroyed by nuclear war.

  2. Vampires do not really exist.

  3. I trust that none of the readers of my blog lives in a garbage dump in Sierra Leone.

  4. Published writers, your last book sales were probably not what you hoped, but at least someone is still publishing your books and people are still reading books. As my friend the clarinetist so aptly pointed out, he's never going to sell a million CDs. Or even 10,000. Writers always have hope for the next one.

  5. More things are curable now than they were 100 years ago. Not enough things, though.

  6. We are, among my readership, not persecuted for being black or Jewish or female or muslim or critical of the government.

  7. Hot water. Water.

  8. Food. Education. The NHS (those of us in the UK).

  9. Not yet entirely demented.

  10. Good play at the National Theatre last night.

I've taken to making bread (I know, I know) because it's much much easier than it looks and fits in with sitting around all day writing. Today, after a week of hmmm batches, it came out perfect. That made me happy for a few minutes. Now if only modern medicine combined with much-needed luck could cure my nephew.

In the meantime, let's not complain about the weather.