How Yorkshire’s Tour de France weekend gives us all 6 lessons in happiness

by Simon Henry @simlington

Well well. That was grand wasn’t it?

I think we can safely say Le Tour de Yorkshire was a cracking show.

I smiled all weekend – even when my annoying prostate woke me up at 1.30, 3.30 and 5.30 each night.

Now there’s a first. I’m usually very grumpy when woken by my annoying prostate.

I wrote recently that Yorkshire is actually part of France. You can read about that surprising claim here.

What else may surprise you is that Yorkshire folk – often portrayed as a bit dour – are anything but!

I’m asking you to ignore the stereotype of the uncompromisingly negative cricket pundit Geoffrey Boycott and let me take you on an enlightening Tour of the Yorkshire Psyche.

You may learn somat useful, our kid.

So, here are six lessons in happiness you can learn from Le Grand Depart’s hosts – my beloved Yorkshire brothers and sisters.

1. Be grateful

We’re genuinely grateful when something good happens.


It’s pretty quiet in most of Yorkshire most of the time.  So when Le Tour turned up, 99% of us came out on to the streets to support it.

The only ones who didn’t were:

– Prisoners who weren’t on day release.
– Patients in intensive care. (Other patients whose lives weren’t immediately threatened made it outside to watch the cyclists bomb past.)
– What we describe as ‘pillocks’ – those who scowl at anything new or fun. It turns out there are some of these in Yorkshire, but fewer than we previously thought.

2. Accept sweets from strangers (show a bit of trust)

I know we’re all told not to accept sweets from strangers – but that’s just plain daft. Especially of the stranger works for Haribo.

The Tour de France is famous for the number of vehicles that go past before you get a sight of a cyclist.

And out of the hundreds of these promotional vehicles, the Haribo one was the best. This is because a nice lady on board kept throwing little bags of the sugary treats at us. What a sweetheart.

Incidentally, Haribo employs nearly 1,000 people in Castleford and Pontefract.

The levels of tooth decay and obesity are markedly higher in these Yorkshire towns than in the rest of the county. But then again, so are their levels of contentment.

But my point is not about decaying teeth and wobbly bellies.

It is rather that Yorkshire folk show a bit of trust and aren’t always on their guard.

Most people, after all, are genuinely fine – and it’s good to trust them as far as you possibly can.

Suspicious Minds was a good song by Elvis – and the Fine Young Cannibals covered it well.

But suspicious minds aren’t necessarily the happiest.

Yorkshire folk know it’s in their interests to show a bit of trust – especially if there are free, lovely, chewy, gummy sweeties involved.

3. Use any excuse for a party

Life is pretty hard sometimes. All you had to do during the race was to look at the cyclists’ poor faces etched with agony to know this is true.

More reason than ever, then, to have fun whenever you can.

People in Yorkshire understand this – and the Tour de France weekend saw an average of 2.3 parties per head of population.

These were almost all based on the ‘Grand Departy’ theme. Oh and using bad puns improves happiness too.

4. Dress up

Just look at how happy this dog looks - it's probably because he's dressed up.

Just look at how happy this dog looks – it’s probably because he’s dressed up.

Losing inhibitions is an excellent way to make yourself happier.

And Yorkshire chose to dress up as follows for their grand departies:

– Wear literally anything and everything you can find that’s yellow.
– Draw a comedy moustache on your face.
– Drape a string of garlic and/or onions around your neck.
– Plonk a beret of any colour – with or without sequins – on your head.

And everyone was ridiculously happy all weekend – or ‘ridiculeusement content’ (see 5 below for giving things a go – even if you don’t know what you’re doing.)

5. Join in – even if you haven’t got a clue what’s going on

Tour de France competitors cycling in central York just past the Minster. Most spectators had no idea what was going on, but were happy just to be there.

Tour de France competitors cycling in central York just past the Minster. Most spectators had no idea what was going on, but were happy just to be there.

Most people in Yorkshire know how hilly the county is – and therefore take the bus, train car.

The only serious bike riders in the county are:

A. Residents of York and the surrounding area – where it’s flat.
B. Masochists.

So most Yorkshire people don’t really understand the basics of bikes and cycling …

… never mind what a peloton is – or why there’s a jersey in the Tour that’s white with red circles on it.

But our ignorance doesn’t matter.

We just ‘muck in’, get involved, put up bunting, host a departy, wear as much yellow as possible, write silly signs using ungrammatical French …

… and have a giggle.

6. Get on with life once the departy is over

The old bikes spray painted yellow and put on public display had an ignominious end. But don't we all?

The old bikes spray painted yellow and put on public display had an ignominious end. But don’t we all?

We know how to live for the moment.

That means we can enjoy the 47 seconds of actual cycling action – along with the hours of waiting and clapping police motorbikes and Haribo vans.

We can enjoy every second of the pre-race and post-race departies.

But when it’s all done, it’s done. And we don’t sentimentally cling on to the past.

And by not clinging to a happy past, there’s a better chance the future will be wonderful too.

Maybe Le Tour will be back in ‘England’s biggest and most magnificent county’ soon. Maybe it was a one-off.

But whatever happens, the people of Yorkshire will be happy.

Aye. They’ll be grand.

If you enjoyed this, you may like a recent post, How Mindfulness can make us all a bit happier

And you make like my other post about the Tour de France, Why Yorkshire is actually a bit French

My Posts about sport include lessons in losing from the World Cup, why marathons aren’t necessarily good for you and a Boat Race special.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014


3 thoughts on “How Yorkshire’s Tour de France weekend gives us all 6 lessons in happiness

  1. Pingback: The Tour de France Grand Depart: Why Yorkshire is actually part of France | Humour me: Smile, laugh, giggle, wet yourself with Simon Henry – simlington

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