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Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Wednesday, 9 September 2009 07:38 UK
Life's little pleasures

Alexei Sayle

"To show a child what once delighted you, to find the child's delight added to your own - this is happiness."

So wrote the author, playwright and broadcaster JB Priestley in his 1949 book, Delight.

Priestley's delights were legion - in fact, he allowed himself exactly 114 of them - including fountains, photographs, charades, smells, walking in a pine wood, bragging, comic characters, dancing and buying books.

Now, half a century on, the idea is being revisited in aid of the charity Dyslexia Action and the London Library. In Modern Delight a collection of authors, entertainers and national treasures reveal the little things in life that make them happy.

"Hopes and dreams"

Harry Hill muses on the pleasure of tormenting telemarketers, India Knight can't get enough of twitter and Gyles Brandreth delights, in the best possible taste of course, in the deaths of friends.

JB Priestley's son, Tom, joined the writer and comedian Alexei Sayle to discuss their own modern delights, which both feature in the book. For Tom Priestley, it is "the magical moment when you come out of a cinema, having seen a moving film, and the world has changed".

Alexei Sayle delights in delving into his extensive collection of Time Out guides to eating and drinking in London, which include reviews of many now-defunct restaurants. These failed eateries, he says, "embody people's hopes and dreams... a kind of insane optimism" and are an "important antidote to the mass hysteria we have today".


We'd like to hear about your delights, modern or otherwise. You can mail us using the form below or send us your pictures.

Looking outdoors on a cold, frosty morning and seeing a bright-eyed robin.
Darcy Dancer

Eating cheese and onion cakes with roast potatoes and vegetables and gravy. The best-ever food after cheese and onion sandwiches.
Catherine Ryan, Birmingham

That smell of hot oil and soot left in the air after a steam train has passed by; the sound of the pick-up hitting the edge of an LP record and the slight rumble and crackle of the run-in groove; a cat purring on your lap.
Gavin Mist, York, UK

When the lights go down in the theatre - the anticipation..., the smell of fresh coffee or the smell of fragrant flowers, listening to Radio 4 in the car, laughing so much at Just a Minute that I'm nearly crying, just being alive and healthy and my kids too.
Annet G, Dorking, Surrey

Getting into bed after the bed linen has been changed, especially when very tired! Sitting down at night in a dimly lit room and having a large cup of tea with a biscuit after a hard days' work!
Ian Wright, Ipswich, England

Sitting on the shoulder of Castle Crag, in Borrowdale, looking down towards Stonethwaite.
Dan Norcott, Loughborough

The sound of rain on my window when I am in bed, the smell of the vacuum cleaner and being in my own world at a music festival.
Blair Shinks, Merseyside

My two black & white cats waiting for me at the front door, when I arrive home; stepping of the plane in a new country, a good glass of red wine. Seeing friends and family.
Claire, Milton Keynes

Standing in front of the Media Museum in Bradford, the Unesco City of FILM, looking down from the JB Priestley statue towards the gradually decaying Odeon Building and knowing that this rotting building has brought so many people together in the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group to fight to save it from being demolished by the local council.
Emma, Bradford

Butterflies, bees and dragonflies in my back garden on a sunny day. The smell of just-cooked Spanish omelette, crispy roast potatoes.
Penny Norris, Colchester

Being very, very silly for no reason, and linked to that, laughing 'til you can't breathe. Books - new books, old books, rediscovered books. Singing - the utter joy of singing in a large choir as one of the 'inner harmony' lines.
Lizzie Tillott, London, UK

The smells of newness. Opening the case of my brand new Fender Stratocaster guitar and blissing out on the dizzying aromas. Opening a new hardback book carefully, burying my nose deep in its pages and sniffing deep of the paper and ink.
John, Leaminton, UK

I take particular delight in world record attempts failing, whatever they may be, and the more inane the better: trekking across the Antarctic, roller skating across the Sahara, cycling around the world, the closer to success only to fail at the last is of course the most delightful. Obviously it is preferable if no lives are lost in the futile attempt.
Andrew Collins, Croyde, England

The moment when I join the empty M62 eastbound from Leeds, on the way to Hull to catch the ferry to Holland and the anticipation of an easy, relaxed journey towards an excellent weekend with old friends.
Dave, Wakefield

Actually waking up to hear the dulcet tones of Sarah Montague is certainly enough of a delight to make mornings bearable...
Philip, Wales

Smiling at someone and seeing them smile back.
Sarah Lyon, Oxford, Oxon

The sound of absolute silence when you realise that the background noise of the world going about it's business has stopped and you realise how relieved your ears and head feel.
Tonia Smreczak, Cardiff

My daughter giving me a cuddle and her telling me I make her happy. Tottenham winning also!
Steve, Haywards Heath

I'm an actor. The greatest pleasure in life for me is hearing the words "You've got the part..."
Mark, Altrincham

The song When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease by Roy Harper.
Dave Barley, Stourbridge

Getting into to bed with freshly washed sheets. Simple but amazing especially when really really tired.
Gemma Newby, via Twitter

Plunging my hand into washing powder and pushing it to the bottom of the box.
Danuta Kean, via Twitter

Popping the top on a new jar of coffee, the smell of new babies/puppies, watching Red Kites soar, wrapping gifts.
Mary Lamont, via Twitter

Sitting outdoors on a warm but not roasting day having a coffee, disappearing into a good book, feeling organised, the sound of waves.
Karin, Chester le Street, Co Durham

The crunching sound of frost underfoot and low winter sunshine splashed over deep green holly, pretty much anywhere but especially on Hampstead Heath.
Matt Whitticase, London

A dry hankie when I have hay fever. Getting into my camper van and the engine starts
Monica, Suffolk

Realizing now that the little pleasures - such as giving in and enjoying those little 'time-out' breaks for myself - really are the great pleasures too. the scent of the ground when it has stopped raining... but most of all having clocked in all my family and friends and knowing that for now they are all ok...
Annie Finlay-Trotter, Gloucestershire

Sitting on my own in the back garden on a Sunday afternoon surrounded by beer and newspapers.
Donald, Waltham Cross, Herts

Music, hearing an album being played live by the band for the first time. Music, hearing songs on the radio that remind you of times and places and faces from back then. Music, reading the sleeve notes to discover the guest musicians and studios used and discovering a lot of your other favourites featured them too. Oh and girls, of course, and all that they bring with them!
Mic Docherty

Mistening to my two kids whispering and giggling with each other.
Jem Duerden, South Shields

Go and spend time abroad and then you really notice your (missing) little pleasures! Mine are a cup of delicious Monmouth coffee - preferably from Borough Market before it gets too busy) - soldiers of Marmite on toast with a boiled egg, the brilliant British Sunday magazines, BBC television, and seeing a kingfisher at the Highgate women's pond.
Lizzie , currently Japan but normally London

Eating two different types of sweet at the same time, such as: Fudge with a Jelly Baby, Flake with Spangle, Liquorice with a Creme Egg, Crunchie with Smarties, Grapefruit Juice with Creme de Menthe.
Gordon Ferrier, Reading UK

Kneading bread dough, with Wagner on the radio at full blast. No-one else in the house. Bliss.
Thomas Kohut, via Twitter

A fresh piece of stationery.
Julie Mayhew , via Twitter

Being inside during a thunderstorm, preferably with some biscuits.
Andrew Naughtie, via Twitter

Listening to Today in bed, drinking the first cup of tea of the day.
Lynda Williams, via Twitter

Hearing James Naughtie eat his toast on air yesterday!
Sam Dansie, via Twitter

1. Being 80 and knowing I can still get on some people's nerves. 2. The magic of a good film. 3. Drinking a very cold beer in Salvador, Brazil.
Helen Livingston, Saltaire

Sitting in a field in the middle of nowhere on a rare sunny day making daisy chains.
Toni Carey, Groombridge

Finding a first edition of a book I love in an old second-hand bookshop and knowing it hasn't been opened for 20 odd years, before I buy and read it and it comes to life again.
Sophie Parkin

I love looking at any one of my three silver tabbies lying on its back with its paws in the air!
Mrs Jean Andrews, Staplehurst, Kent, UK

Giving.
Paul Wynter, London

I like to go into a major coffee chain outlet and order a large black coffee, refusing to use any of the 'venti', 'maximo' language nonsense.
Steve Hurley, Tooting, London

Dog walked, house clean, roast in oven... that 10 minute sit-down before I do anything more taxing than baste!
Nikki Bayley, via Twitter

Skipping, handstands, good music, hilltops on nice days & chocolate are some of my little pleasures.
Janet Strath, via Twitter

Listening to the rain drumming on the conservatory roof whilst looking out for frogs in the garden.
Alice McCormack, via Twitter

Walking across a grassy field with your eyes closed.
Al MacLeod, via Twitter

My modern delight is finding, at the end of an art exhibition, that the picture I like best is one of the ones available as a postcard. Very often, this isn't the case, so it always a small lift to the spirit when it is.
Leanda Senior, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Kippers and marmalade.
Tim Smith, Chinnor, Oxfordshire

A small and momentary delight of mine is to step on discarded cigarette packets that may be lying on the pavement. The packets resist briefly before collapsing... then I carry on my way.
Neale Millar, London

To wake and find the sun shining outside from a blue sky. Living in the west coast of Scotland, this is a lot rarer than I would like!
Kenny, Argyll

Alexie Sayle could not be more wrong. I am lucky enough to have two fabulous daughters (Darlings Doctor and Diva) out in the world doing what really fires them up and that will always be my greatest delight.
Tom Winstanley, Cardiff

Being outside on a winter's morning as the sun comes up over a frosty countryside.
Alistair McRonald, via Twitter

Waking up in a warm comfortable bed to find I still have an hour or two before the alarm clock rudely interrupts. Chocolate too. Joanne Shipp,via Twitter

Life's little pleasures. Waking in the morning and after a fraction of a seconds confusion realising it's the weekend. Hooray.
Jonathan Bowcott, via Twitter

Seing the winter sun rising over a calm sea on a beach in Barcelona.
S Ballantyne Long, via Twitter

A brief and hopefully short-lived pleasure: counting how many times Alexei Sayle said "you know" in his interview. I clocked at least 25.
Adrian, Hove, East Sussex


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