There are some people that my 10-years-old springer spaniel absolutely adores. Well, one person really - my daughter. We have never managed to work out just why that should be, but it is. There are other people she likes very much, enough to make her excited when they come through the door. Then there are others the mere sight of whom send her into a frenzy. "Ten years old going on two months," as Dee remarked this morning. At the time, Fern (the spaniel) was running dementedly in large circles around her. Again, we have never been able to work out just what it is about these people - and there are perhaps just four or five - that has such an effect on the dog.
But then, I find that there are people who have, well, not exactly a similar effect on me, but an effect. I'm very happy to greet friends and neighbours and to pass the time of day with them; with some, I am delighted to spend the time to put the world to rights. I smile when I greet these people. Well, one does, doesn't one? But there are a precious few whose simple presence makes the world a brighter, friendlier place. After a minute in their company I can leave, smiling, and that smile stays with me for quite some time. They have some sort of charisma that transcends time and place so that even the thought of one of them starts my lips turning up. I am lucky enough to know two such people. And they could not be more different people, apart from that magic ingredient.
Here in Brighton one of my near neighbours is one of those two. The fact that she is an attractive brunette, 40-ish (although I could be wrong; I'm hopeless at assessing ladies' ages) doesn't hurt, but it's not her looks alone that make me happy to see her. And she always seems happy.
In Chateaubriant, a regular in one of the bars we frequent is the second person. He stands well over six feet tall and almost as much round the waist. He speaks not a word of English and has the largest hands I have ever seen. There are several teeth missing and his moon-face is usually covered in about two days' of stubble. He always greets the Old Bat with a bear hug and a kiss. Just like my Brighton neighbour, he always seems happy.
They have some sort of a joie de vivre, but it's not that alone that brings happiness to others. I don't know exactly what it is, but I'm glad it's there. If only somebody could bottle it, he's make a fortune - and the world would be a much better place.