My Week In Happy: 42 – the answer to life, the universe and everything else


Or is it 41.92?

Presents! Thanks everyone :)

A selection of gifts and cards I received on my 42nd birthday.

In Douglas Adams’ geek classic The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, there was a joke that ‘the answer to life, the universe and everything’ could be summed up by just one number – 42.

This is not something that I have paid much attention to until turning 42 last year.

If the mantra ‘life begins at 40’ did not seem quite convincing enough, the idea that becoming 42 might have something magical about it – even based on no science at all – really appealed to me.

Imagine my delight when I came across some real research that suggested that we reach our creative prime in our forties.

A Dutch economist, Philip Hans Franses, looked at the lifespans of 221 famous painters between 1800 and 2004. He then used art market data to work out how old artists were when they created the piece of work that had sold for the most money.

The average age was 41.92.

Not only did this reassure me that the best may be still to come, but some of the artists didn’t get really good until they were in their seventies – loads of time left!

Comedians in their prime

The Lowry Arts Centre in Salford attracts some great comedy performers, and this week I was lucky enough to catch three (count ’em) stand-up acts at the venue.

Lucy Porter

Wednesday’s gig was Lucy Porter’s with Me Time. She is also 42 which meant that a niche cultural reference to A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Can I Kick It?’ didn’t go unnoticed. However, I was less prepared to hear the truth about some drama on Mumsnet’s ‘Am I being unreasonable?’ thread.

She also traded on the glory of winning Celebrity Mastermind (in 2009) by running a very successful ‘name the top famous people from Salford’ quiz and gave audience members actual prizes including a finger of Fudge and even a Double Decker (but no plastic trophy).

Andy Parsons

On Friday I went to see Andy Parsons (Live and Unleashed – But Naturally Cautious) who I hadn’t seen do stand-up before but recognised from his regular appearances on Mock The Week.

Andy is 47 (not 42, but a prime number so some specialness) muses on the absurdity of life and how the ‘pasty tax’ got overturned but we still don’t have a legally enforced living wage in the UK. He also talked about poo quite a lot.

Richard Herring

Last up, on Saturday, was old favourite Richard Herring and his show ‘The Lord of the Dance Settee’. The title, as it suggests, is what Herring believed the words to the popular-in-seventies-primary-school-assemblies hymn ‘Lord of the Dance‘.

Richard Herring is 47 (see Parsons above) and recounts attending a variety performance featuring Ted Rodgers of 3-2-1 fame just to heckle him. Herring is horrified when he discovers that at the height of his fame, Rodgers was 48 – just one year older than him…