Today’s song is ‘When You’re Smiling’. This popular song was written by Larry Shay, Mark Fisher and Joe Goodwin in 1928. Early popular recordings were by Seger Ellis (1928), Louis Armstrong (1929), and Ted Wallace& His Campus Boys (1930).
During its 90+ years since the song was initially recorded, it has been covered by so many famous singers including: Andy Williams(1963): Duke Ellington (1930): Billie Holiday (1938): Perry Como (1947): Frank Sinatra (1950): Frankie Laine (1950): Dean Martin(1952): Louis Armstrong (1956): Patti Page (1957): Ella Fitzgerald (1958): Doris Day (1959): Judy Garland (1961): Nat King Cole (1962): Michael Buble (2001), to name but a few. In addition, the song has been in several films and has been included in many television series and shows.
I was brought up with this song and can never recall a time when my mother wasn’t singing it or when it wasn’t being played on the wireless (that’s the radio for the young ones). Neither can I recall a time during my development when my mother wasn’t smiling whenever I entered her presence. I am sure that there must have been times when she was sad, and yet I never caught her without a smile on her face.
Mum never spoke in the perfect diction of an educated woman but knew that a simple smile was more persuasive and disarming in any heated discussion more than any other argument that could be put up.
Another woman I never once saw without a smile on her face was Mother Elizabeth; the mum of my wife Sheila. Mother Elizabeth lived in a nearby Residential Home in Oakworth after she developed Alzheimer’s for nine years before her death in 2017 at the age of 88 years. I never knew her at a time in her life before she developed Alzheimer’s but often visited her in the Residential Home with Sheila. Sheila would take Mother Elizabeth out for her walk daily and there was nothing Mum liked better for a treat than an ice cream cone on a summer’s day and chocolate.
Despite Mother Elizabeth’s condition, one always got the impression that she was a happy soul. I still recall that I would often see her in her corner chair smiling away, even though nobody was with her at the time. Her action essentially told me that when you see somebody who is alone, smiling, then you know they really mean it!
Both mums had one thing in common for me. Every time I approached my own mother or Mother Elizabeth, I would be greeted by a warm smile. It was as if both women intrinsically knew that nothing they ever wore could ever be more welcoming and self-enhancing than their smile. It was impossible to see either woman smile without it communicating to you that they had few regrets in life. Each woman put a great deal into their lives and got a lot out of life in return. Both my mothers knew that a smile is the greatest investment in the ‘Bond of Happiness’ one can ever make. It always pays dividends, and its returns are incalculable.
For over twenty years whilst working as a Probation Officer in Huddersfield, Batley and Dewsbury, I ran hundreds of groups and worked with thousands of people In Probation Offices, Hostels, Hospitals, Psychiatric Wings, Prisons, Educational Establishments, Churches, Police Training Establishments and Community Halls. I would teach Relaxation Training, Anger Management, Social Skills and Assertiveness Training. Some groups would be with offenders, whereby I would seek to help them change their criminal behaviour. Other groups would be with non-offenders who required social skills and assertiveness training; some groups would be to teach relaxation training and reduce high tension levels or phobic behaviour. There were also groups of professional workers who would be taught how best to deal with difficult situations they might encounter during the daily course of their work and how to de-escalate aggressive situations.
Two of the most effective icebreaking exercises I would always include would be asking group members to 'pull a face' at the person next to them and I would also ask them to 'smile' at the same person later. These two exercises that one might consider easy always proved the most difficult for group members to perform with strangers. As for the face-pulling exercise, I merely wanted to convey that until group members were able to pull a face at life, then there was very little likelihood they’d be able to start to address other big changes in their lives. Regarding the smiling exercise, I was attempting to communicate that a smile was the most powerful ally of effective social interaction than any other skill one could marshall. Through role-playing social discussions, I was able to demonstrate that by smiling and head nodding at appropriate junctures when the other person was talking, that one could be part of a social interaction where one virtually said nothing, yet made the other person who was doing all the talking feel like they’d had a good discussion with you.
So, if ever you meet a person without a smile on a morning on your way to work or the shops, then lend them yours.
I dedicate my song today to Annette Marie Tan who originates from Singapore and today lives in San Diego, California with her husband. Annette was a school friend of my wife Sheila when they both attended the same school in Singapore, ‘The Convent of The Holy Infant Jesus’. It is Annette’s birthday today. Have a nice birthday, Annette. Lots of love from Bill and Sheila x
Love and peace. Bill xxx