It’s irritating. By and large, it doesn’t take much, just something to set me off whingeing: a trigger point I think it is called. This morning I discovered that our new next door neighbour had erected a new Sky dish. (‘Discovered’ probably sounds a little more dramatic than it actually was – it required no searching. I looked out of the window and it was there.) It is not very high, ten feet perhaps, and it sticks out over my property – a much-used path that runs along the side of the house – by about a foot. I looked at it and thought about all of the ways in which it would inconvenience me, but, other than meaning that the window cleaner will have to take extra care when bringing his ladder round to the back windows (I think I’m right in saying that with a little knock of just a few degrees on the left of the dish, they will wind up watching Albanian Third Division Crown-Green bowling in place of Strictly Come Dancing) and that the erection of scaffolding would require rather more care than it did just a few days ago (I am fully aware that I have no plans of doing anything that will in any way require scaffolding – unless I build some kind of mini-suspension bridge to get the window cleaner’s ladders safely by the dish – but it’s the principal of the thing godammit!) I can think of none. It’s very disappointing. I feel violated. I feel saddened that my permission was not sought (even though I am pretty certain that it wasn’t mine to give) yet I am struggling to find actual, concrete objections to its presence.
Not that I want a disagreement with the neighbour. She is new. She seems very pleasant and the last thing that I want is confrontation. I am not good with confrontation. If she had mentioned the impending work to me I would, without any doubt, have said, ‘Of course, no problem, would you like me to hold the ladder?’ but she didn’t and now I feel sore about it.
I think that it is a generational issue. Both of my neighbours are half my age (as are roughly three quarters of the world’s population I believe) they know what they are allowed to do and they just do it. That’s fine – there’s absolutely no point in getting exercised over something you can do nothing about – unless, of course, you’ve got a blog to write. Nobody cares for the narrow-minded, and self-proclaimed paragons of virtue are not going to be at the front of the queue when it comes to sympathy. I wanted to be mad, but I’m not – it’s definitely an age thing. It vexes me that the kind of things I do get enraged about: poverty, racism, sexism, hate, ITV football commentators, are all big things: things that I can do nothing about. The kind of things upon which I can legitimately vent my spleen: whomever keeps stuffing litter into my front hedge; the idiot who keeps parking his van across the grass verge; the internet provider that won’t allow me to keep my current number; my own ability to take any manner of ‘selfie’ that does not feature at least half a screen of out-of-focus thumb; my television’s tendency to turn on at full volume regardless of the volume at which it is turned off are, irritatingly, merely mildly irksome now: nothing to get worked up about.
Don’t get me wrong here – I fear we may be walking along parallel* sides of different highways – I have never been one to look for a fight – I spent far too many years losing them as a child. The righteous indignation that occasionally boils within me, does just that – it stays between my ears and gives me a headache from time to time. Occasionally, if I get really, really angry, I will write a strongly worded letter which I will never post. I will, of course, like every good English man, stand my ground when faced with queue-jumpers. I was, on one occasion, threatened with a knife in the Post Office queue. I laughed (in retrospect not the brightest of reactions) and it puzzled the youth to such an extent that he just walked away muttering about seeing me outside. Although thoroughly alarmed, I again did the British thing and carried on as if nothing had happened. There was nobody waiting for me outside: presumably his mum needed the knife to peel the spuds.
Now, new readers will no doubt be moving in closer, cocking their best ear, waiting with breath suitably baited for the point of this tirade, whilst those of you who know me better will have already drifted off and put the kettle on – knowing that any point I might, by some miracle make, will almost certainly not be worth the making – well, stow that teabag, you’re getting it anyway. The point is this: in the past, when I had so much to get mad about, it was so easy to find something to write about, but now, I am the personification of calm and, unless someone erects a satellite dish without telling me, tongue-tied and that my friends, is truly infuriating.
*my inability to correctly spell parallel without recourse to the spellcheck is truly irritating.
Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument – Desmond Tutu