Ever watched that show about cantankerous old men who just can’t keep their traps shut about how miserable their day-to-day existence is? That might be overstating the facts a little, but Grumpy Old Men (which sparked a remarkably similar, albeit entirely agitating spin-off, Grumpy Old Women – as if the regular kind wasn’t bad enough) is a show almost exclusively aimed at that generation that’s been and gone, or is in the process of going. I might come across as a little bit ageist in tone, but whinging is a verbal art mastered particularly by our elders – superiors I think not. I am among the proportion of the younger generation who were taught to respect their seniors, and this is something I don’t besmirch. However, I won’t defend the absurdity that is complaining as a hobby; but I will invoke it, if only to impart some of my begrudged observations of society’s eccentric make-up.
In regards to Grumpy Old Men, and not just the hand-picked celebrity batch they broadcast for television, I have a familiarity to share with their esteemed kind (some are not as esteemed as others, giving them something to bitch about). On my own, on a daily basis, I probably manage to find at least 50 objects, people or grinding issues to store away in my memory banks and save for later use when my whingeometer reaches maximum capacity and I blow a gasket like a stressed-out sewing machine. Just now I encountered another niggling dislike for the spelling of sew, as opposed to sow, but I’ll save that sour-bite for another session.
The frequency of antagonisms itself is a double-edged sword; as soon as you’ve finished venting steam about one prickly problem your frustrated brain is plagued by yet another brand new bitch of a calamity comes roaring up from behind to scissor kick you like Chuck Norris on acid. With that ass-kicking image in mind, the opposition to that argument is that there’s never a dull moment in your day if you’re regularly ripping up a contemptible piece of the puzzle. I mean, consider life as a utopia, where everybody gets along, nobody picks a fight with anybody and Jeremy Clarkson is as quiet and docile as a disabled mime artist – I personally want to be sick just at the thought of it. Come on, even the most optimistic person would sooner trade in a couple of genocides than have a completely harmonious, stiff-lipped cemetery of a society. Plus, logically, you can’t have admirable organisations like the Red Cross or feel-good phenomena like Live Aid without things that are pretty whinge-worthy.
I’d be the first to admit that life’s nothing without things worse under the circumstances to look at and feel bad about – or those devilishly hypocritical moments when you identify someone who’s suffering and you think to yourself, glad it’s not me, sucker. If you’re one of those saints who feeds off and bloats yourself with compassion, you should be ashamed. Not only are you depriving hard-working British citizens of their right to moan – much easier to practise than the right to vote – but you’re creating a structural imbalance in the cosmos. I’ve known a few happy-go-lucky parasites in my time so far, but it has to be said that nothing puts more salt in the wound than children’s television. Just for the sake of sullying innocence here, I’m afraid to say that the overt gleefulness of such classics as Noddy and The Fimbles are nothing more than an adult’s wishful fantasy about life alien to bitchiness. And how cruel of us as wiser human beings to subject children to such procrastination of the truth. This blissful dishonesty is the thing you have stripped from your psyche once you enter the near-fatal hazard of puberty; all that caring and sharing quickly evolves into greasy skin, irrepressible sexual urges and binge drinking (some teenagers are already seasoned boozers by the time they hit the curly whirlies).
But don’t judge me here – I’m not a miserable bastard (I’m actually very amused right now). I don’t go about making wisecracks about the poor while I knock over charity collection boxes and steal coppers to throw at homeless people – if I give any of you ideas don’t accuse me of indoctrination, the urge was in you all along. I’m rather cheerful, to tell the truth. I go for relaxing woodland walks and rest my exercised limbs at the edges of meandering summer streams. I even offer to babysit my little nephew for the weekends – cash from my sister notwithstanding. The greatest benefit about being a contented complainer is that when someone questions how you can go on living in a world so fraught with terror and turmoil you just smile, laugh and look forwards to the next little crumb of distaste you’re about to crunch down on. It’s something I do, and something I enjoy doing. But what I enjoy doing even more than scrutinising the universe, is having the universe scrutinise me back. That’s when the arguments take off.
Grumpy Young Man will be making casual visits when he feels like it. If you wish to complain about Grumpy Young Man just air your woes in public and he’ll eventually get back to you on it once he’s heard it. Grumpy Young Man appreciates your concern with any contentious comments he may have made…but he much more appreciates angry emails as a response.