19th January 2015, if you can believe a piece of pseudoscience funded by a holiday company, was Blue Monday; the most depressing day of the year.
Halfway through a long pay month, the coldest weather and usually failing New Year’s resolutions mean that with the best will in the world; January is feeling like a tough month already.
Even if you like your work, actually having to get yourself out of bed and into the cold to face a day of emails and deadlines or just do something other than lying under the covers watching box sets seems completely unfair.
Until you find something that puts your life and problems into perspective, it is very easy to take out a bottle of wine and while away the evening hours moaning about the dullness/stress/unfairness.
Luckily, every Monday I have found something that kicks any issue or challenge I have to face not just into touch, but out of the stadium.
Between 6 and 8pm, I volunteer for a charity called Radio Lollipop at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (or GOSH).
Through a combination of play, interaction and an in-hospital radio station, Radio Lollipop aims to provide smiles and laughter to children when they need it the most.
On the night of the 19th, I was “DJing” which for kids radio means playing all of the songs from Frozen and anything by One Direction.
During this, I was trying to think of a competition question when the studio phone began flashing.
On the other end of the line was a bubbly, nine-year-old with two Lollipop volunteers and his parents.
He had called up to tell me a joke and request a song and he did so live “on air” as brave as you like.
The joke was brilliant (“Where do hippos keep their money? In the river bank!”), the song not so much (Let It Go from Frozen) but he was an ace kid and we talked about how he had been named after a famous film star.
I told him to give me a call back if he had any other jokes or wanted another song and in 20 minutes, his excited voice was again shouting down the phone.
This time he told another joke (“What’s brown and sticky? A stick!”) which happens to be one of my favourite jokes ever and requested a much better song (Happy by Pharrell). Again I said thank you for calling in and speak to you soon.
As all good things come in threes, so did they last night.
I thought of a competition question and unsurprisingly, the little dude was back on the phone in a flash, this time spelling H-I-P-P-O-P-O-T-A-M-U-S to win a prize.
When the volunteers came down to the studio to pick up his prize (a magic set in case you’re interested), they were full of adoration for the prize-winner.
They said his face had lit up when they came into the room and he was so excited about everything they made.
He was lively and talkative and full of energy. Then they explained that he was on an isolation ward and had been since August.
I couldn’t believe it. Here was a child with an illness that meant he had been in the same ward for nearly six months yet he was cheery and happy and full of life.
Not an hour prior I had been complaining about a) how cold it was outside b) that I had to go for a run after I had finished and c) work was going to be busy for the rest of the month.
If ever there was a case of life teaching me a lesson, this was it. Every Monday I speak to and meet some incredible children; brave, funny and still childish despite their reason for being at there.
Whatever problems I may think I have, every Monday I am reminded I need to follow the example of the kids at GOSH.
The 100k London to Brighton race I am taking part in at the end of May is in aid of GOSH Children’s Charity. If you would like to donate some money to the cause, please go to www.justgiving.com/SamWilkesUltra100
Total words: 10,700
Total miles: 153.3 (246.7k) – run pending…