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Monday, April 22, 2013


I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s; it was a time when you just got on and did stuff. There was bureaucracy everywhere, but that didn’t seem to bother people in those days. People queued patiently for things they wanted. When you went to see a new film at the cinema you sometimes had to queue around the block, only to find, that when you got to the end of the queue, the cinema was full – but that was no problem because you’d go back the next night and queue again. People chatted to each other in queues – people would even sometimes swap each others' life stories.

I was told, many years ago, that as I got older I would become more tolerant, but I have actually found that as the years have rolled by I am annoyed by more and more things. In fact, almost everything these days annoys me.

It’s the simplest things that annoy me the most; something I would have quite happily done when I was younger, like standing in a queue, now frustrates the hell out of me. I also hate waiting for things. When I was in my twenties time seemed to be irrelevant – I didn’t mind waiting for things because it wasted time where I would otherwise be engaged in the act of working for a living.

It’s hard to put my finger on the time when everyone became intolerant of each other, when queues became a chore, where people stood in silence, not daring to talk to the person next to them in case they turned out to be some gun-toting maniac intent on murdering everyone in one-mile radius. It’s even harder to put my finger on when I myself became intolerant of those small niggly things in life that irritate me to the point of annoyance.

People who talk through films at the cinema have always annoyed me, but I never used to say anything, preferring to suffer in silence and whinge about them all the way home. Not any more, though. Those days are well and truly past me. These days I speak up, running the risk of being punched in the face by some moron with a Neanderthal brow and bad teeth for having the temerity to even speak to him. I was in a cinema in Winchester once; I went there with my wife to see the Terrence Malick film The Thin Red Line. It was a long war film about the WW2 battle for Guadalcanal and my wife was several months pregnant at the time, so, in hindsight, it was possibly not the best type of film to take her to see, but I was so excited about seeing a new Terrence Malick film after such a long absence (twenty years) that it never entered my head that she wouldn’t enjoy it.

Sat next to me in the cinema was a couple in their mid-fifties, who were chatting away to each other without a care in the world. When the ads came on they continued chatting to each. When the forthcoming attractions came on they continued chatting to each other, which did irritate me slightly. I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt as they were bound to be quiet when the film itself started. But they didn’t stop. As the film started they carried on chatting as if they were in their lounge at home.

I lasted for about three minutes before my annoyance turned to intolerance. I turned to the couple and snarled, “Look, either shut up or get out and wait for this film to come out on video!”

The husband looked at me with a certain degree alarm and then he shut up. He and his wife didn’t say another word throughout the entire length of the film, but as we were leaving the cinema my wife said, “I daren’t ask while we were in the cinema but what war was the film was set in?”

Here is a short list of some of the things that irritate or annoy me.

  • People who talk through films in the cinema.
  • Stupid people who think that knowledge is not important.
  • The conservatives.
  • People who stammer.
  • Television companies that make piss-poor brainless entertainment – including reality programmes, pointless game shows, soap operas, Downton Abbey, etc – which cater for the lowest common denominator, whilst assuming that everyone who watches television is a moron.
  • Politicians who get away with fraud and live in second houses paid for by the tax-payer.
  • Vernon Kay.
  • Parents who talk about their children ALL the time.
  • Footballers who are just overpaid nancy-boys.
  • People who are unaware of, or have no interest in, their own country’s history.
  • Bingo.
  • People who think that the events in the Old Testament actually happened.
  • People who chart their entire days on facebook, making comments like “Just curled up on the sofa with a cocoa” or “Just off to bed”. I’m not interested in your dull and pointless lives.
  • Modern R&B.
  • The Post Office Syndrome – where you switch queues in a local Post Office only to find that the queue you just left starts to move faster than the one you’ve just joined.
  • Nouvelle cuisine.
  • People who believe in ghosts and who think mediums can talk to the dead and fortune tellers can see into your future.
  • 3-D films.
  • Run-of-the-mill, mediocre, middle-of-the-road music (Cliff Richard, Celine Dion, Chris De Burgh, Phil Collins, etc).
  • Wives who assume their husbands rank or status.
  • People who walk around with their mouths open (it’s a sure sign of stupidity).
  • Bad neighbours.
  • Books like Fifty Shades of Gray that have no literary merit whatsoever.
  • People who talk a lot but don’t actually say anything.
  • People who read books like Fifty Shades of Gray, under the impression that they are reading something substantial because it contains more than 200 pages and has no pictures in it.
  • Parents who give their kids stupidly embarrassing names.
  • Comedies like My Family that follow the American pattern of comedy sit-coms and which are, like their US counterparts, not in the least bit funny.
  • Working class people who vote conservative in the misguided belief that a leopard can change its spots.
  • New Labour (see The conservatives).
  • Religious nutters from any denomination who feel the need to ram their views down your throat and try and convert you to their faith when they can plainly see that you are perfectly happy believing in nothing at all.
  • Apple products.
  • Pretentious Oscar-winning films like A Beautiful Mind that only serve a singular purpose, which is to waste two hours of my life.
  • Bad food in expensive restaurants.
  • Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 & 3.
  • ColdPlay.

Whenever I get annoyed by something on the list above or any new thing that didn’t irritate me before but does now, my wife will encourage me to go to my “Quiet Place” and to get over what is causing me so much pain and anguish.

So, where is this Quiet Place of mine? Well . . .

I have this magic aircraft, you see, and I can take anyone who didn’t deserve to die off it and replace them with talentless or annoying or boring living people. For example – I could take Roy Orbison, Alex Harvey, Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley off my plane and replace them with Chris De Burgh, Cliff Richard, Celine Dion and Vernon Kay.

Once the replacements are safely on board and the drinks have been served (by people who have annoyed me, obviously), the plane will take off and after about five minutes it will crash into a mountain, killing everyone on board.

When I explain to people about my Quiet Place I usually get two different responses, depending on the type of person. The first type will think that my Quiet Place is brilliant and they will wish they had thought of it. The second type comprises almost entirely of people who take themselves/life far too seriously.

I try to ignore this second type of person because they just get on my nerves.

In fact, I’m going to add them to my list.

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