You know toddlers? You know how sometimes, at the end of the day, and they’re tired, and they just sit there with a massive scowl on their face? And that whatever you do – tell them it’s time for bed, put on their favourite dvd, give them ice cream – they’ll just sit there frowning, occasionally throwing hard toys at fragile objects, and looking like they’re plotting genocide?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, today I am that toddler.
Not just today, in fact, but over the last few days, I’ve found my mind to be nothing but a gently simmering cauldron of rage. EVERYthing is annoying me. I mean, there’s an example right there. I write my blog entries in a word processor before cutting and pasting them into WordPress, and the stupid arsehole of a program has just drawn a red squiggly line under the word “EVERYthing” (and there it goes again).
Now, I know why. Those inestimable wankers in the software development team (the same ones who thought an animated paperclip would be “fun”) think that I might have hit caps lock instead of shift by mistake. I’m pissed off about this for two reasons. First, how DARE an insentient lump of a computer try to question me? Second, when I right-click over the word to get rid of the irritating little squiggly line, one of the options it will present me with is ‘Add to dictionary’. I mean, come on. The sodding word is spelt the same whether it’s all in lower case, all in upper case, or a mixture of the two. What it means is ‘Add to personal typographic preferences,’ so why the buggering hell doesn’t it say that?
ANYway, (oh, for fuck’s sake, it’s done it again), as I was saying, everything (happy now, Nanny Microsoft?) is annoying me. I wonder if this is what it’s like to be a Daily Mail reader – this seething, impotent anger at the world, just for being different to the way I think it should be. If it is, I should probably be more sympathetic to Daily Mail readers, except, of course, Daily Mail readers are pretty close to the top of the list of things I’m annoyed about. And yes, I am aware of the irony there.
Obviously Microsoft are a pretty predictable target for anger. At any given time I would imagine that a goodly percentage of the world’s population would like to have a five minute rant about them. But much more obscure things are annoying me too.
My local supermarket re-arranged their biscuit aisle over the weekend. Yesterday I found that the biscuits I wanted were at the opposite end to usual, and that, moreover, I had walked past them on my way to where they used to be. It’s probably just as well there wasn’t a supermarket employee to hand or I would have probably screamed in their face. As it was, I contented myself with muttering under my breath like a foul-mouthed and unusually vicious version of Muttley. Then I got pissed off at all the people who started giving me suspicious sidelong glances. I mean, what was there problem? I mean, yeah, there was this fat, unwashed, lank-haired bloke stalking up and down the aisle muttering to himself about biscuits, but what did they think, that I was some kind of a nutter or something?
Oh, yeah. Right.
I’ve also been finding it hard to keep a lid on my online anger. It’s only actually escaped once – a comment over on Toaster in the Shower‘s blog, where I somewhat angrily endorsed what J Wibble was saying himself. I think the anger was justified, so I allowed myself to click on “Publish Comment”, but there have been far more times when I’ve had to stop myself. Either when I’ve been thinking about commenting on someone else’s blog (this bitch fight, sorry, discussion between oldschoolbaby and beakie on Mental Nurse was a bit of a trigger, for example), or writing something for my own, I’ve found myself producing screeds of text, then, deleting it. The reason I did so was because I realised that I wasn’t so much annoyed or angered by what I’d read, as I was looking for an opportunity to be angry about something.
Putting it like that makes me sound very analytical and self-aware, doesn’t it? It’s easy to sound like that in writing, where there’s so much scope to second guess everything. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed it so well in real life.
On Saturday I was walking through town, and came across one of the regular buskers that besmear a particular pedestrianised street like dog shit, only less pleasant. He’s one of those buskers who feels the need to talk about his life in between massacring songs by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (and god knows Dylan and Springsteen songs are awful enough in the original). As I passed him on Saturday he was talking about how he’d stopped working in an office, and started busking instead. It was brilliant. We should all do it. He was making almost as much money as he used to, except now he didn’t have to pay taxes, which there was no point in paying anyway, because it was only used to fund foreign wars and luxurious second homes for politicians.
What annoyed me about this is that it’s obvious from things he’s said previously that he thinks of himself as left-wing. And yet here he was, a man capable of working and paying taxes, choosing not to (having a day-job wouldn’t stop him busking on the weekends, if he enjoys it so much). And yet, despite this, you can bet your arse he’d expect the NHS to give him all the newest, most expensive treatment if he came down with an illness. You can bet your arse he’ll expect the welfare state to pay him a pension when he’s too old to busk. You can bet your arse he’ll expect a free place in a nursing home if he turns out not to be able to look after himself at home.
There’s a name for this kind of behaviour. It’s called being a leach. So that’s what I called him. “You’re a fucking leach, you stupid cunt,” I said. These were my precise words. I’m not particularly proud of them – aside from anything else, at least he earns his own money, as opposed to me, who just spends other people’s, in the form of benefits.
After my run-in with the busker – who ignored me, I think you must have to develop a thick skin if you play music on the streets – I had another little dispute further down the street. A nice smiley lady with a clipboard said, “You’ll talk to me, won’t you?” and I replied, “Fuck off, bitch.” Again, I’m not proud of myself.
This anger and (verbal) aggression is quite out of character for me. Partly, that’s because I like to think of myself as “nice,” and “nice” people don’t go around swearing at strangers. Partly, it’s because I’m normally such a shrinking violet of a person – often enough I wouldn’t have the courage to ask a stranger the way to the bus station, let alone shout at them. Partly, it’s because I’m usually a very “controlled” person, and I wouldn’t normally allow myself to show any strong emotion in public. I’m pretty certain it’s related to the problems I’ve been having with anxiety recently. I think the anger is probably the anxiety in a different form, perhaps projected outwards against other people rather than directed inwards against myself. That sounds like the sort of spin a psycho-babbler, sorry, psychologist would put on it, anyway.
I think I’ve sounded quite flip in my attitude in this post. I think I’ve made it sound like I’m detached from my “antics”, and amused by them. Really, I’m not. I find it quite disturbing that I should have lost control of my temper like this. I think, having had so little contact with people for the last several months, I’m finding it harder to cope with the general back-and-forth of human relationships. I don’t want to turn into an angry man, because I think it would have such a negative effect on me if it became my default way of interacting with the world. I don’t want to turn into (continue as?) a lonely nutter, who sits alone in his flat all day, and wanders round the streets muttering to himself, trying to ignore the frightened, and hostile, and pitying glances he picks up.
I don’t want to turn into either of those things, so this is a memo to myself: fucking DO something about it, then, you arsehole, don’t just sit around complaining about it.
See, I can aim the anger at myself, too. Ah well, at least I know I deserve it.