In defence of whimsy

Last night, Sarah and I went out for dinner at a wonderful South Indian restaurant called Tharavadu in Leeds (while this post is not a review of the restaurant, I would definitely recommend it, just make sure you book as it is extremely popular). The meal was delicious, the setting pleasant, the room decorated as you might expect of an Indian restaurant. In short, it was a delightful evening.

When it came time for the bill, it arrived rather unexpectedly in the model shopping trolley you can see in the blog post image, complete with the customary after dinner mint chocolates. With working wheels, fold out child seat and a retractable back which would allow the trolley to be lined up just like the real thing, it was an accurate if seemingly unnecessary facsimile.

My first response, of course, was to play with the trolley, pushing it around and filling it with the remaining condiments and cutlery. My wife had gone to the toilet at this point, and as far as I know no one else was watching me, so I began to race the trolley, and desperately wished I had a second trolley to race against. My fun lasted only a few minutes, but it was certainly a fun little end to my meal.

When our waitress returned with the car reader for us to pay our bill, I asked her why the bills were delivered in a miniature shopping trolley. Her response was simply ‘because they are’ and we all shrugged and chuckled between ourselves before we thanked her and left. Whatever the true purpose of providing the bills in shopping trolleys, if there had ever been a purpose, it had certainly entertained me.

I think it is fair to say the shopping trolley added a touch of whimsy to an otherwise pleasant but predictable evening. There was no reason for the bill to arrive in a trolley, but it added a little to the experience even with this little gesture.

For some people, little acts of whimsy can seem frivolous or childish. Eating dinner in a restaurant is often a happy occasion, so whimsy is not entirely out of place, but having such acts of fancy in more serious or austere settings can be seen as inappropriate.

Given my actions with the trolley when it arrived, it probably comes as no surprise that I am not a person opposed to the whimsical. Described by my wife, mother-in-law and most recently a patient as daft, I do my best to avoid taking life too seriously.

In part I think this stems from my job, which is both serious and distressing at times. Discussing someone’s health and well-being can mean talking about upsetting things, and it is not uncommon for patients to cry in my clinic room. I would never wish to trivialise the distress they are experiencing, but I have certainly experienced the benefits a little humour can have to mean someone at least leaves the appointment with a smile.

Whimsy is certainly an important way of not taking things too seriously, and it begins with my attire. I of course aim for professional, usually a shirt, suit trousers and shoes, but I also like to add a little bit of silliness in the form of my sock collection. I am proud of the fact I do not own a plain pair of socks, instead having pairs which include dragons pulling Santa’s sleigh, llamas wearing ties, and Albert Einstein’s face.

I appreciate this is a small thing, but it makes me chuckle to think I am sitting in a rather tedious team meeting wearing a pair of salmon (the fish not the colour) socks. Outside of work, I am able to take things a little further. I am in my early thirties yet still enjoy building Lego sets, my dog has been purchased a variety of outfits of various degrees of silliness, and after I bought myself a packet of googly eyes spent a good hour sticking the things around the house and laughing to myself each time my wife failed to notice them.

I do not want to give you the impression that my house is akin to a Dr Seuss novel, with bangs and explosions and silliness happening constantly throughout the day, that would be simply ludicrous. Rather, I try not to take things too seriously when appropriate, and do things I find funny or fun, even if others might roll their eyes at me.

You might now be wondering what the purpose of this post is. As I said at the beginning, it is not just a review of the restaurant. Neither is it just a chance to speak about my love of the sillier side of life. Rather, this post is a call to arms, of sorts. Make room for a little whimsy in your life. Do not worry about the silliness. Do not even worry if you are the only person who laughs. If we only ever focus on the serious side of a given situation, we risk the world being a very dull place indeed.

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