Let’s face it, a diagnosis of terminal cancer doesn’t exactly light up your day. Especially when you’ve had a couple of weeks to think about how bad it could be – and then discover it’s actually worse than your worst case scenario.

But my reaction at the time might have seemed strange to someone who didn’t know me. And that’s because – ironically – I’d already spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do with ‘the rest of my life’.

Before my diagnosis, I’d imagined ‘the rest of my life’ being at least another ten to twenty years. (My father died at 98. My mother at 89.) And I’d seriously wondered what I could usefully do with all that time. What projects I could start. What value I could bring to my church and village communities. How I could maintain my physical and mental health as age began to take its toll.

And – to be honest – I wasn’t coming up with very much.

So why was that?

What I realised – with a mixture of shock and pleasure – was that over 70 years I’d already turned most of my dreams into reality. That I had received countless blessings, in countless different ways. That I’d already had an amazing, exciting, fulfilling and above all happy life.

Despite everything. (Because don’t imagine it didn’t have its ups and downs…)

In my first six months I hovered between life and death, barely putting on any weight. That’s what comes of getting born in the Great Smog of London, in December 1952. Which killed tens of thousands, with particular focus on newborns and the elderly.

I had months off school with asthma and bronchitis – bedbound for the most part. (So I read. A lot…)

I was bullied most of the way through school – where, almost inevitably, I was usually a square peg in a round hole. My headmaster scoffed at the idea that I could get a place at Oxford. (Dear reader, he was wrong…)

In my vulnerable teens I developed an increasingly distressing and prominent set of keloid scars. Not pretty.

My love life – to begin with at least – was a series of failed relationships.

And then, in my 30s, I was diagnosed with crippling ME/CFS. Which I battled for seven long years.

But over all that time, the blessings in my life were so numerous that when I look back, they are almost all I can see.

And certainly all that matters.

I’m thinking of music – as a listener and as a performer. My time at university. My writing – and the thrill of seeing it published. The delights and pleasures of historical re-enactment. The rewards of an enduring faith. The amazing places my scripting skills have taken me – and the equally amazing places I’ve chosen to visit. My loving parents, my wonderful friends, and my massively supporting community. And – above all of those – half a lifetime of partnership with a woman I still love as much as I did on the day of our wedding.

So I’ve decided to start a new thread here on the site – called ‘Reasons to be cheerful’. And to spend some time exploring the things that have made my life such a panoply of pleasures.

Because that’s exactly what it has been.