“Do you mind if I sit in it mate?”

‘Of course, feel free.’

“Aw, it’s got that old car smell ain’t it. Oil, petrol… Perfect. Reminds me of sitting in my old grandads car when I was little…”

I quickly popped out to get some essentials at the shop, and now a complete stranger is sitting in my car reminiscing about his grandad.

You can’t ‘quickly’ pop anywhere in a classic car. People smile, beep and wave. When you pull up and get out, they walk over smiling, and talk… Lots.

It’s why I love driving my 1600E Cortina.

When you’re drivin’, when you’re drivin’

The whole world smiles at you…

But, Dartford is one of the least happy places in the UK.

Not that much smiling going on after all?

Why is that? What’s wrong with Dartford? In her post Keg makes some great points.  Our immediate environment, and the things within it, have a huge impact on our mood and general outlook. If our environment is depressing and unimaginative, we’ll be negative. If it’s pleasant and enjoyable we’ll be positive. It’s why people feel compelled to smile at my old car.

But Dartford, one of the least happy places? No, I won’t have it…

It’s not that straightforward though. We’re complicated creatures.

Collectively we can be quite pessimistic. We all love a good moan right? Individually though, I think we’re optimistic. We typically believe the future will be better.

But, I also believe that we see the future as uncertain, it’s seemingly driven by random events. A myriad of choices, that haphazardly bring about change.

In that case, there isn’t much point in trying to understand the future. Collectively we’ll probably grumble about the collection of possibilities put forward. Individually we’ll hope for the best.

In philosophy, politics, and business too, arguing over process has become a way to endlessly defer making concrete plans for a better future. – Peter Thiel

This approach is unfortunately a worthless pursuit of mediocrity.

What if we collectively choose to believe in a definite future, one that we could shape and improve for ourselves?

If I look at the local initiatives; Dartford Matters, Dartford Living, Dartford Creative, Dartford Natters, Dartford Snappers, Dartford Community Group, etc. I honestly believe that it’s happening. We are changing our collective mindset for the better.

To make the next step, we need to support and encourage each other to take control of our future.

“I’d love one of these old classic cars mate. You know, something that needs a bit of work. Something I can spend time improving.”

‘Treat yourself mate, you wont regret it.’

“Yeah, I think I might.”

We need to make a concrete plan.

Then we’ll make it happen.

It’ll be all smiles if we do.


About the author

Mike Harrison is an inventor and engineer. He lives in Dartford with his wife and two children.

2 comments on “Making Dartford Smiles Better”

  1. KegDA1 Reply

    The survey declaring Dartfordians as miserable is odd. I can’t quite reconcile it with the town I know either. I’d like to know more about the circumstances the survey occurred in – the age groups, time of day etc may have had an influence. People seem happy enough to me. But this is a commuter town so people work long hours, travel far to work at a high cost and the cost of housing is going up here so maybe that has contributed.

    I’ve lived in Dartford a long time and spent time in other places and I really think the community spirit and community involvement which exists in the town now is the best I’ve seen it.

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