Lots of things make me angry. A group of men shouting with laughter in a quiet pub when you want peace and quiet, people walking backwards in an animated conversation with someone, not realising they’re going to bash into you. And it’s hard to beat my fury every time some twit on the radio says ‘to be honest’, that irritating senseless and overused phrase that’s about as nonsensical as ‘at the end of the day’ used to be years ago. Come to think of it ‘back in the day’ sounds daft to me too, as does the American phrase ‘Go figure’. Or when someone says ‘bless him’ when what they really mean is ‘fry his liver and roast his heart, I hate the very sight of him’.
Nowadays there are all kinds of reasons to be angry. There’s the blazing justified fury if someone harms an animal, or a child, or indeed attacks someone weaker than themselves. The anger at injustice when someone is treated unfairly by the system. And of course there are all the little niggling irritations, such as anger at TV programmes. My own pet dislike is the vast army of male chefs on TV today. Television producers have decided that sport presenters must be dizzy blond females, and that it’s macho for men to cook. So there’s an endless procession of seven-foot tough guys delicately teasing out salad leaves, wittering on about presentation. And in cookery programmes producers try to inject ‘tension’, where there’s the ludicrous spectacle of several ostensibly intelligent aspirant cooks, sweating in a backroom because a gaggle of chortling buffoons seated at a table ten feet away are going to pass judgement on a jelly, or pronounce on their pork.
Fake television ‘tension’ is utterly annoying. I used to write about building and DIY, and a while ago there was a programme about companies who sold architectural materials. A friend in the trade told me that the producer had been told she had to inject ‘a time element’ and ‘tension’ into it, so there was the ludicrous spectacle of having to feel sorry and concerned for a well-heeled dealer in antique stone troughs who had only so many hours to transport a twelfth-century trough from France to England, because his client ‘had’ to have it by 3 o’clock. Why did he have to have it so quickly? For heaven sake it had been under six feet of manure in a Gallic barn for 700 years, what difference did a few hours make? But tension? Really? Tension is when someone’s hanging onto life by a thread , or a bomb is about to go off. I remember a series ‘Challenge Anneka’ which stretched credulity to the absolute limit, because some vast building project had to be completed within so many hours for the sake of some mawkish charity or other. Why? Concrete couldn’t set, paint wasn’t allowed to dry, and artisans hammered and sawed and twizzled their socks off all through the night under floodlight. When there was no earthly reason for this ridiculous haste, except to make people seem hurried and stressed.
And I get angry at ‘givers up before they start’. We all know them. The ones who tell you there’s no point in writing a book because no one will publish it, there’s no point trying for a better job because you won’t get it. That everyone else has it easy and they have to work hard. Whinge whinge whinge. Yes whingers, they annoy me too. And who annoys me more than whingers? The ‘hate scroungers’ brigade who say that they’d be a traffic warden for 24 hours a day for 10p a week in the outer Hebrides rather than sign on the dole.
Obfuscation in sales strategies makes me angry too. When a car is sold with £XXX off, when you’re not even told the original price, and adverts tell you you can get ‘up to’ £XX savings, or an insurance policy offer ‘2 months free’. Patently utterly stupid, when they don’t tell you what 12 months costs in the first place, and ‘up to’ could be anything from 1p to £1000! Or when you’re offered a silly fountain pen or a furry toy if you buy an insurance policy. For goodness sake, if you want an insurance policy you will buy it, if you want a cuddly toy you’ll buy that, you won’t want to do both bloody things at the same time! Any more than you’ll want to buy a kiss-me-quick hat at the same time as choosing the coffin for Aunt Betsy’s funeral.
I get angry at the repetitions of things you have to say. Why must you say ‘Happy Christmas’ to everyone? It doesn’t mean anything, just a phrase, and you’ve got to say every year, time and time again.
I get angry about half heartedness. For instance when I was young, men either had a beard, moustache, or were clean shaven. Nowadays, every single male actor on TV or man you meet in the street under 30 is obliged to have man-shadow that’s carefully twerked down to a black haze or froths around his gills like a moth-eaten bog brush. Middle-aged men scurry around with a dithering sparse rash of silver stubble that exaggerates their turkey neck and transforms their face into a sad geriatric jelly. Men can’t decide whether to wear long trousers or shorts so they wear something in between that jeers at their knees. And many people voice a statement in ‘question’ mode, with that irritating upward lilt at the end, as if they’re terrified of saying anything decisive, so they have to pretend they haven’t really said it seriously.
And sport. I personally have always heartily disliked sport. When it’s the World Cup football, I hate the nauseating fixed grin on a TV presenter’s face, especially females, as they give beneficial results for England, and the oh-so-gloomy face of a whipped dog-with-diarrhoea if we lose. Ever since school it has struck me as absurd that you should want to kick a ball, or run or jump faster, or hit a cricket ball better than anyone else.
Everyone went mad about the Olympic Games. All the ridiculous hysteria about a few men running around in singlets made me angry. Remember the ‘Olympic bounce’? Where is it? It was a pathetic advertiser’s creation that we were meant to believe, a promise that aimed to repay all the businesses whose premises were forcibly removed simply to provide what’s passed as entertainment for a mere fourteen, extremely tedious, days when we were forcibly bored witless by a national obsession that everyone apart from me appeared to buy into.
Does anyone remember the Millennium Dome? That was a gargantuan waste of time and money and, again, the cant and hypocrisy of the professionals who tried to sell the wretched experience made me angry, the pretence that it was a gigantically exciting bubble of fun, when it was a suppurating abscess on the withered forehead of a government fresh out of ideas.
I get angry about those who talk endlessly about writing, soul searching and pontificating about literary wiles and finding the muse instead of actually doing it.
I don’t smoke but I get angry with rabid anti-smoking crusaders who tell you that cigarettes contain 15 million different poisons including arsenic, plutonium, lead, strychnine, cyanide and microbes of the Black Death. Do they seriously expect anyone to believe such patently ridiculous rubbish? Every mineral on earth probably contains microscopic amounts of poisons, whether it’s a doughnut or a dandelion! Isn’t that obvious? Or do the anti-smoking lobby think smokers’ brains have been so addled by the weed that they actually believe all this twaddle? Okay, we all know smoking is bad for you, but it’s got to the point that they tell you that if you were a yard away from Mum while she had a fag for ten minutes when you were six your chances of lung disease are multiplied by 5000.
I remember a doctor on television saying that there was a strange causal link whereby people who smoked and drank alcohol were more prone to certain kinds of cancers, whereas if you only did one of those activities, the incidence wasn’t any higher than average.
“Well,” he said, trowelling on a patronising leer. “Isn’t it obvious? We all drink plenty of alcohol, so it’s safest to give up smoking, isn’t it, and carry on drinking. Everybody drinks. It’s natural.”
So everyone drinks alcohol to excess do they? That’s natural? Rubbish. I don’t. And if smokers enjoy smoking as much as drinkers enjoy drinking why shouldn’t they puff away, as long as they’re aware of the health aspects? Who is he to say which is worse? Fatuous oaf.
Here’s my rough assessment of a few of the things that I think make other people angry. Dropping litter – some are certain that this warrants instant decapitation. For some reason people who disbelieve in ghosts often get furious when ghost believers go on about phantoms. And rabid atheists sometimes like to get angry with people who believe, and have the urge to unseat their faith. MPs’ expenses. That one, I admit didn’t rile me one bit. What else do you expect from 600 power-hungry gangsters? And let’s face it, who is there who, if offered a legal monetary perk wouldn’t take it? Especially if all their colleagues were doing the same thing. It was the luxury lifestyle that got under people’s skin. Would they have been so angry if a friend had had his flat’s broken window fixed for no charge by his firm, rather than a millionaire having his duck pond prettied up by the taxpayer?
So that’s what makes me angry.
And the strange point is, that anger is a part of life. It may be corrosive and pretty pointless, but it’s fun to rant and rave about a pet hate with friends over a cup of coffee.
And do you know what?
I like it.
A good ranting dollop of anger a day is really quite fun.
So over to you. What makes you angry? I’d really like to know …
[If you liked this you might like to glance at my books: Rock’n’Roll Suicide
And Doppelganger ]