10 things that have been annoying me lately

Be warned, this post is messy and disorganised, and contains much crossness and some swearing.  So if you don’t like messy disorganisation, crossness and swearing, you probably shouldn’t read beyond the end of this sentence – the one that’s ending… … … here.

Right, so, things that have been annoying me recently:

  1. Myself.
  2. My total, overwhelming, utter inability to do any-fucking-thing at all.
  3. Specifically, my inability to blog.  Getting the ideas in the first place is like wading through treacle, then writing it is like the tortures of the damned, so following this up 4 times in a row with a “shit, I can’t post this, I’m too scared of the reaction” is really fucking annoying, especially when there’s no logical reason why it’ll get a bad reaction, but I still ‘know’ that it will.
  4. Other idiots besides myself.
  5. For example, I was reading an old issue of a magazine put through my door by the local council.  It had a big feature on the health & fitness services they offer.  In one section an employee in charge of promoting the use of these services was being interviewed.  She said that a third of adults who live in my city are overweight or obese, and that therefore – therefore – everyone can benefit from getting more exercise.  Obviously, exercise is (generally speaking, excepting, for example, star-jumping anorexics) a good idea anyway, but if tackling obesity is the reason for getting active then the data you’ve just quoted show that only 1/3 of people can benefit from more exercise and 2/3 don’t need to bother.
  6. The same lady also replied, when asked about people’s reasons for getting fit, that men did it because they wanted to be healthy, or to be able to play football with their kids, but women were motivated by ‘vanity’ and ‘wanting to look good on the beach’.  Way to motivate women there, particularly those women who already feel guilty for having body image issues.  That comment’s really going to make them want to go into council-run gyms, isn’t it?
  7. Another part of the same feature was talking to the council employee who has specific responsibility for encouraging people from minority ethnic backgrounds to make use of the council’s facilities.  He described the actions the council have taken to make people feel welcome, such as, for example, offering training in martial arts from India to complement the better known disciplines.  All well and good.  He went on to talk about the arrangements they have made to enable muslims to feel able to take part in leisure activities, such as arranging single-sex swimming sessions so that men and women do not have to see each other in a state of undress, and fitting curtains to an indoor netball court so that muslim women could remove their veils without fear of being seen by a man.  I’m not especially keen on the enforced seclusion of women at the best of times, but what really irritated me was that, immediately after having laid out in detail these arrangements, the equality officer stressed that there was no tolerance for segregation in the city’s sports facilities, and gave a lovely speech about the positive benefits of everyone playing sport together.  All fine – except for the fact that he’d just detailed the ways in which the council are facilitating segregation, albeit on the basis of gender rather than race.  It all ties in with a thing I read quite often on feminist blogs – that if any group of men were subjected to the rules and restrictions placed on women in some societies/ cultures, it would be regarded as an immediate and pressing human rights crisis, with UN Security Council resolutions and all other kinds of pressure being brought to bear on the perpetrators.  But, because it ‘only’ affects women, it’s thought of as a ‘cultural’ matter in which outsiders shouldn’t involve themselves.  (Oh, and don’t get me started on the fact that the article makes it seem like all the muslims living in the city need special arrangements made for them before they can go swimming or chuck a ball around, when in fact it’s only the hardliners who do.)
  8. Fuckwit nationalistic sports ‘fans’.  I mean, obviously, there was the whole England v Germany thing.  I will cheerfully admit that I know fuck-all about football, but even I knew enough to recognise that a team playing as badly as England had been in the group stage had absolutely no chance of beating a team like Germany.  I mean, hoping is reasonable, supporting your team even when you know they can’t possibly win is lovely – but the swaggering arrogance, the absolute insistence that England were going to win – had to win – because they’re, like, England, innit, was profoundly annoying.  And then, of course, all the nationalistic fuckwits forgot about football and became dedicated tennis fans instead, and we got to watch their idiotic antics in the centre court.  Things like cheering every point Andy Murray won on his serve like it was a winning penalty.  Or cheering when Rafael Nadal let a ball that was obviously going long or wide pass him because they apparently didn’t understand about the concept of a ball being ‘out’.  Or, cheering when Nadal served a double fault, because that’s really sporting behaviour, wanting your man to win, not because he’s the best, but because the other guy fucks up.  One of the reasons I like tennis as a sport is that it still preserves some of the old-fashioned values of sportsmanship – players apologising to their opponent if they win a point because of a fluke in the way the ball comes off the net, that kind of thing – and it depresses me more than I can say to see it gradually turning into a free-for-all where idiot fly-by-night supporters think an undeserved victory is a good thing.
  9. Supposedly knowledgeable sports pundits who make idiotic predictions, like the whole “Andy Murray can win Wimbledon this year” thing.  No he couldn’t have done, not without being very lucky.  Don’t get me wrong, Murray is a good player.  He’s thoroughly deserving of his place amongst the top four players in the world.  The people who point out that, if he was playing against the calibre of players who were around 15-20 years ago, he would probably have won more than one Grand Slam by this point in his career are right.  But he’s not playing against the players from that era, he’s playing now, and that means he will almost certainly have to beat either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, or both, to get his hands on a major trophy (and perhaps Novak Djokovic, but that’s less of an issue because Murray and Djokovic are more closely matched).  With his ranking such as it is, you expect Murray to get into the last four, even in major tournaments, and having got there you expect him to be able to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the world – but you don’t expect him to win, because, when push comes to shove, the players ranked above him are ranked above him for a reason.  Of course, there’s always a chance he will win, because he’s a good enough player to take advantage of any chinks in the armour of an opponent, whoever they are.  But he will only get the opportunity to do that against the best players if they are off their game for some reason – like Roger Federer has been for the last couple of months, for example.  I don’t disagree with the pundits who say that Murray may win a major someday because he is still improving (though the rate of improvement seems to be slowing), and he is capable of running the best players hard, but unless his position in the rankings improves it’ll be something of a fluke if he does.  One thing that was certain, though, is that coming into this tournament with the form he’s had this year, his chances of winning Wimbledon were virtually zero.  Even I know that, and I’m just an occasional watcher of the sport.  The professional pundits – the people who follow the players round the world and have watched Murray’s defeats over this season firsthand – really ought to have known better.
  10. Tennis commentators. I’m old enough to remember the great Dan Maskell’s commentaries.  He would restrict himself to a single ‘Oh, I say’ murmured at the end of a particularly dramatic point; very occasionally he would make reference to a ‘lovely cross-court volley’, or some other piece of shot-making that he found particularly beautiful.  The contrast with the current crop of commentators couldn’t be more striking.  The worst of the bunch, by far, is Tracy Austin – in fact I’ve watched almost none of the women’s championship this year, and one of the main reasons is that whenever I’ve turned on a match she’s been commentating.  Truthfully, though, John McEnroe’s not a lot better.  Both of them talk incessantly, sometimes all the way through a point, and frequently about things that have almost no relevance to the match in hand.  Is it really so tricky to master the basic rule of tennis commentary: between the ball toss ahead of serve and the final shot being called ‘Out’ by the line-judge or umpire you do not speak.  Not about anything.  Ever.  Even if your feet are on fire and you’re calling for water to douse the flames, you do it with the mic on mute.  I am watching the tennis because I’m interested in the match, not what you think about the match.  Particularly when what you think about a match amounts to the blinding insight, following a double-fault, that ‘the rhythm of the serve is just beginning to falter here’.  No, really?  And there was me thinking the players dumped the ball into the net on purpose.  In fact, if you’ve only got that kind of nonsense to say then keep quiet all the time, not just during play, but between points, at the change of ends, all the way through.  For the record, my least favourite comment this year was spoken by Greg Rusedski during an Andy Murray match, while the ball was in play at a crucial point in a decisive game: ‘The last few points have gone against Murray.  He needs to be careful here, he needs to keep winning points.’  See what I mean?  Maddening.
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3 Responses to 10 things that have been annoying me lately

  1. J. Wibble says:

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling crappy and paranoid – I know it’s of little use telling you it’s all good, as obviously the nature of paranoia is the absence of rationality, but if blogging is being a pain in the hole you don’t have to, and to quote another favourite blogger of mine, “Shakespeare wrote quite a bit of noss too.”

    On #7 – All the swimming pools I have been to have had men-only and women-only swimming sessions (and adult-only sessions, for that matter), and I’ve never heard any mention of this being to accommodate devout Muslims; they are usually well-attended, so it would appear there is a demand for them from the general public. I suspect the leisure centre has had these for quite some time, and that it was mentioned in that context in order to sound ‘socially aware’. That in itself is possibly even more irritating, but this is certainly not a new thing and if there is a demand for it then it makes sense to have them.

    I also disagree with the practice of using ‘culture’ as an excuse for views and behaviour that would otherwise be viewed as abhorrent, such as segregation and violence towards women, even if the cynic in me wonders if we could, say, get the smoking ban lifted in gay bars on the grounds that smoking is part of ‘gay culture’ (just the first facetious example that popped into my head, I’m sure you can think of better ones).

  2. Adair says:

    “messy disorganisation, crossness and swearing” — Three of my favorite things of all time.

    @7–Hmm, I’ve never heard of a swimming pool having sex-segregated sessions. I think the issue of culture vs. non-segregation is a bit complicated, though: There’s an outroar if someone suggests desegregating bathrooms (I suppose locker rooms would be the same way; and maybe this is more of an issue in America than where you live, I don’t know). I’ve heard from parents of small children that it’s almost impossible to find clothes for them in any other color than pink or blue, which is a different sort of vile segregation.

    @6 Don’t you fucking hate misogyny and how the vast majority of men, women, and teenagers alike are utterly oblivious they’re so used to it?

    @3 I’ve been known to hide under my desk crying after sending emails, I’m so scared of the response. Irrational anxiety like that sucks, but at least it’s no match in the long run for the erosive effects of frustrated disorganization.

    @5 Okay, okay, that’s obviously stupid non-logic and I shouldn’t be defending it, but maybe she was thinking of the preventative effects? Not that that’s much better–“Hey, look at your fat neighbors and colleagues, aren’t they a cautionary tale enough to scare even the currently-slender into working out?”

    @10–Perhaps you could put the TV on mute?

  3. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    J WibbleSorry to hear you’re feeling crappy and paranoid

    Thank you for being nice. :o) I hadn’t actually identified that i was feeling paranoid, but you’re right, that’s exactly what the feeling is, and on reflection it’s affecting quite a lot of things at the moment. Which is slightly worrying as it represents a fairly obvious fail in my self-monitoring. Calling it a loss of insight would be overstating things, but, still, i’d usually expect to be aware of a drift in my thoughts before other people became aware of it. But, anyway, thanks for the info. :o)

    With regard to the separate sex swimming sessions, i can obviously only go on the article (since i last set foot in a swimming pool in the mid 80s), but that seemed to be suggesting that, up until a request from a male muslim swimming club, there had been women-only sessions, but any sessions that men could attend women could go to. I could have made that clearer in my post, i think – but, hey, messy and disorganised! ;o)

    Adair“messy disorganisation, crossness and swearing” — Three of my favorite things of all time.

    Well, that’s handy. :o)

    here’s an outroar if someone suggests desegregating bathrooms (I suppose locker rooms would be the same way; and maybe this is more of an issue in America than where you live, I don’t know).

    I think you do get unisex (i.e. non-segregated) locker rooms in some places in the UK, but they’re still unusual, i think, and they’re not universally popular. I think separation in areas where people are going to be naked is one thing, but separation to the extent that women have to be screened off by a curtain even as they play sport seems a fairly drastic stage further. But, of course, what i’m actually saying there is that the cultural conventions i grew up with seem natural and obvious to me, and mores that differ to my own look weird and peculiar.

    In the grand scheme of things other aspects of the segregation of muslim women – such as not being allowed to study/ work/ make friends with the opposite sex – are far more troubling than curtaining off a netball court, which is pretty trivial. I guess my worry is that the people who are so hardline as to be worried about the possibility of a man catching sight of a woman’s hair as she plays netball are likely to be hardline on the other aspects of female freedom too. But it may just be a ‘comfort’ thing, like the desire for separate-sex locker rooms, and not anything to get worked up about.

    Perhaps you could put the TV on mute?

    It seems like the obvious solution, doesn’t it? The trouble is that then you don’t get to hear the calls from the line-judges, which can make following the match quite hard. Also, you miss the sound of the ball coming off the racket, which can be useful in identifying a miss-hit, and therefore establishing who is playing better in a rally. Plus, assuming they’re not a nationalism-distracted crowd, the cheers between points are quite an important part of the experience. Basically, i want to have my cake and eat it too! ;o)

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