March 04, 2016

Putting the Rant into Tolerant

Putting the Rant into Tolerant



BILLY'S CONTRACT goes off on one




In the past I have always been complimented on my easy going nature and not getting into a flap when all round are losing their heads. I would like to think that, had I been a passenger, I would have been quite calm during the last moments of the Titanic.

That image was recently blown out of the water when The Bride admonished me for beeping at a car that cut me up and told me that I had become less tolerant and become a Grumpy Old Man since I took early retirement some eighteen months back. This got me thinking and The Bride, now the housekeeper, as usual was not wrong.

For the best part of 27 years of my working life I would cover some 25,000 miles per annum over the Queen's highways and the by-ways of her sceptred Isle ...in a car that is, and genuinely I cannot ever recall having 'flashed or tooted my horn' at another motorist (how on earth did that last bit get passed by the censor?). She also pointed out that it was not only bad drivers that seemed to get me going these days. but numerous other small inconsequential things that I disliked, or that got on my wick, or that I just plain hated.

"Give me just one other example" I said.

"Where shall I start?" she said. "How's about Ikea?"

"Well, no man in his right mind would go in there" I replied." "Give me another example" I demanded, and without pausing for breath off she went.

"You don't like ...reality TV shows, American election coverage on British TV, Celebratory adoration, The European Union, McDonalds, French Cars (post-1985), party politics, the reduced size of chocolate bars, even tablets (have you seen the size of Rennies these days, you now need four instead of two to get rid of your heartburn), Coca Cola, Starbucks, Amazon, companies that do not pay their UK taxes, Stockton-on-Tees, train fares, fake tans, Muzak in shops, Euro Disney coinage, Nike, smokers, ignorant people, Sky TV, Budweiser, label mania (cannot understand anyone who would wear a T shirt with Adidas/Nike emblazoned across the front of it), Casualty/Holby City, Call the Midwife, Strictly Come Dancing, H.M. Inspector of Taxes, money-making speed cameras, BMW drivers (do the indicators on these cars not really work?), sales assistants who say "Can I help you?' or greet you when you enter their shops (have a wander round Currys and see how many times you get pestered), small parking places, American football, Northern Rail's 'Pacer' trains, the Common Market, motorists who, despite the fact that there are plenty of parking spaces in the supermarket car park, park their cars on the double yellow lines right in front of Tesco and Asda (I'm sure, given the opportunity, these same people would like to drive around the store to do their shopping without leaving their vehicles)."

I could go on.
"...That whooping noise Americans make, Ikea, Sepp Blatter, Diane Abbott, Nicola Sturgeon, Eric Pickles, Volkswagen (thanks for poisoning us all), noisy people in cinemas and concerts, Google, the flag of the European Union, motorists who use their mobile phones (particularly texting) whilst driving, FIFA, the French (excluding Dimitri Payet), all the people who contributed to the closure of Hartlepool hospital, the management of North Tees general hospital, bad manners, tattoos on women, Ikea, self service tills at supermarkets, bad manners, Mr Tumble, Teesside and Dalton Parks, on-shore wind farms and electricity pylons, Jimmy Carr (is he funny?), B and Q, Luton and Mansfield (the towns not the football teams), motorists who drive below the speed limit, women shoppers who fiddle about with coupons then spend twenty minutes looking for their purses in their hand bags and insist on paying the exact money at the till, car salesmen, the scrapping of the TSR2 in 1965, chewing gum, Middlesbrough FC, cold callers, long advertisement breaks between TV programmes, litter louts, Ikea, Facebook/Twitter, Tees Valley, utility companies, the American flag, gobby, shouty young women, Apple, the Oscars, Ikea, mobile phone tariffs, TGI Friday's, party politics, slow lorries overtaking other slow lorries while using the outside lane on a gradient, Pease pudding, getting Scottish banknotes in your change, waiters asking if your meal is 'okay' (they should be asking if is sensational), Sunderland town centre, people who, particularly on TV, when talking in distances use kilometers instead of miles (smart-arses), the livery of Stagecoach bus fleets*."

Did I mention Ikea?

I think the Bride might have a point after all - that I have metamorphosed into Victor Meldrew.

Not long after this tête-à-tête I was in the Town End for the Salford game. After watching the first fifteen minutes of play you could almost feel the presence of a banana skin of giant proportions hovering over Victoria Park. The omens were not good as Salford were streets ahead of Blyth, who had knocked Pools out at the same stage of the competition last season. Mid-way through the first half the crowd were, not unjustly, getting on Pools' backs. At times the atmosphere was distinctly hostile.
"Would you mind having a word with the other 3,000-plus Poolies in the ground who would appear to share my opinion, but far more vocally?"

Two of my mates a little way from me on the terrace were in deep conversation, discussing between themselves Ronnie Moore's lack of tactical know-how, the way the team was set up, the high levels of ineptitude many of the players were displaying such as not being able to pass to each other from a couple of yards.Their private parley was interrupted by a, dare I say, well-meaning eavesdropper, a chap in his late thirties, who suggested to my mates that they should get behind their team rather than criticizing them. One of my mates said afterwards that he was sorry that at the time he did not reply to the interloper by saying "Would you mind having a word with the other 3,000-plus Poolies in the ground who would appear to share my opinion, but far more vocally?"

For the Derby cup game a sense of déja vu occurred as the same group of mates for no other reason than comfort forsook the Town End for the Mill House seats as they also had numerous relations from Derby in tow with them on the day. Prior to kick off they were sat overlooking the Marina and taking in the sea view whilst discussing the pros and cons of Scott Fenwick. In truth they were not overly critical of the player, in fact they thought that Ronnie Moore was not one of his biggest fans and that Fenwick should be given a run in the first team, and played in his natural position of centre forward.

Image of Grumpy Old Men's Club teeshirtHalf way through their conversation, and some five minutes after the game kicked off, three lads, in their mid forties, obviously with alcohol on board, took to their seats then turned around and had a right go at my mates in no uncertain manner 'f'ing and jeffing' and more or less telling them to keep their opinions of Scotty Fenwick to themselves, which was, ironically, what they were doing in the first place.

My pals, being in a family group, did not respond to them, and two of the younger female visitors were shocked at the language and aggression directed at my pals, and it was obvious that they would have got more of the same if they had continued to engage with them. I think it a very sad day when one cannot express an opinion at a football match for fear of having someone else jumping down one's throat because they don't agree with another's viewpoint. That after all is one of the joys of 'going to the footy.'

A few feet away from me where I stand in the Town End there is one lad in his mid fifties, and he comes out with all sorts of stuff. You might not agree with all he says but:
1 he is passionate, and
2 he is unwittingly funny and often has those around him in stitches.

Then you have the fans who should know better, whom you feel like giving a good talking to for their idiot behaviour. For instance, at the recent Notts County game, a small group near us, mainly spotty teenagers, started booing Luke James' name when it was given out over the Tannoy. I felt like going over and telling them that, forgetting what happened in the past (he was badly advised), Luke James could have signed for a couple of our rivals, and asking how they would have then felt if his goals had help condemn us to non-league football. But I just gave them a cold stare and said nowt.

As it turned out, on the night James was the best player on the pitch and earned himself the Man of the Match award. "How did he get Man of the Match?" one of them said. Obviously he had not been watching the game as there was only one contender. It was just a great pity that James did not score on the night as I would have loved to have seen the reaction on these lads' faces. The whole point of my ramblings is that you do not have to be over sixty to be a moaner and a Jonah. Grumpiness comes in all forms and is no respecter of age. Fourteen to a hundred and four and beyond All are welcome.

Being Grumpy. I am the master of it, I've got the T shirt. When my wife gave it to me on my birthday I said "couldn't you have chosen another colour other than black?"

I confided in our Kid and he too admitted to getting less tolerant with people as well. The one thing we both agreed on is that being grumpy is actually very enjoyable. Try it. 

* N.B This was the abbreviated version of my list of dislikes. For a copy of the five volume edition please contact Monkey Mansions.