Saturday, 29 November 2008


'A tantrum is an emotional outburst of ill humor or a fit of bad temper wherein the higher brain functions are unable to stop the emotional expression of the lower (emotional and physical) brain functions.’ Wikipedia.

tantrum n.

A fit of bad temper. Also called regionally hissy, hissy fit, conniption fit, huff, passion, temper.

[Origin unknown.]
Early hours of the morning, a kebab shop in Hove. I’m with an old friend, Michael, and his partner, Alison. Ahead of us in the queue, a man is huffing and snorting at a member of the shop’s staff, telling him what a disgrace the service is, and how he proposes never to patronise the establishment again, and so on. Then he stalks out.

‘You see how unattractive people look when they get stroppy in public?’ Alison says pointedly to Michael, who is prone to throwing similar self-righteous wobblies at helpless service personnel. It’s true – definitely not a pretty sight. But some switch gets thrown in the male brain at forty or so, and suddenly it seems to you that your affairs are in the hands of incompetent, obstructive and impertinent dopes.

I had a whole day of strops yesterday.

Strop the first, 12.20.
I go to Boots to buy some special shampoo recommended me by a doctor. A chit of about ten serves me and wants to know why I need this shampoo. I tell her it’s for pityriasis.
‘You’re ainley suppaste to use it if a doctor recommends it?’ she says.
I tell her a doctor did recommend it.
‘You’re ainley suppaste to use it on your scalp?’
I glare at her, intending wordlessly to convey that I'm paying for this stuff and can therefore use it on whichever body part I dashed well please.
‘I’ll gay and talk to the pharmacist? I’ll ainley be a minute, bear with me?’
After a while she returns to tell me that the pharmacist will be along in a mayment, and asks me to bear with her again.
‘Oh, forget it,’ I snarl, and stalk out, hearing Alison’s remark about unattractive huffing even as I do so. Oh, but for Christ’s sake, this is an over-the-counter preparation and I’m a grown man, not some kid trying to wangle a miniature of brandy from the off-shop ‘cos me Gran’s took badly. And I’m on my lunch-break. Well, honestly.

Strop the second, 16.14.
Central Trains, God rot them, lay on a two-carriage train at Leicester, where enough people are waiting to fill a train twice that length. Half of them do not manage to board. Those of us who do board are jammed immobile into the aisles and vestibules for the onward journey. I get off at Stamford, go to the guard and ask for a complaints form.

‘Ain’t got none left, mate, I give ‘em all out at Melton.’

‘I’m not fucking surprised’ I say, shocking myself with the vehemence with which this comes out. Poor sod, it wasn’t his fault and probably people have been cursing him out all evening.

Strop the third, 21.00.
Out to dinner with two friends. I order salmon. It arrives, riding a plate the size of a tyre hubcap, a piece of fish some five inches long, with one sliced potato, about 15 french beans on a puddle of whitish sauce, for an asking price of fifteen pounds. I ask the waiter, who acts personally wounded, to take it away on the grounds that a dish so meagre and unremarkable is not worth that amount of money, and pass straight on to the cheese. When the bill comes I am so mellowed out on red wine that I end up paying for the bloody salmon I didn’t eat rather than risking another confrontation. So the third strop was all directed at myself as I walked home, for being such a pussy.

The moral, obvious to anyone but me (and Michael) is that strop is impotent, a dead end. I didn’t get my shampoo, I didn’t get to blast the idiot personally responsible for not providing a long enough train, and I paid fifteen quid for not eating the dish I sent back for not being worth the fifteen quid I paid for it after all. I reckon a fortune awaits the geek that can devise a strop-level monitor for men, or for those of us born without one, perhaps something that causes a little red blob of light to flash in the bottom left quadrant of the lens of your specs when you are approaching boiling point and about to lose it. You could then bite your tongue, quickly reframe the situation and walk away with what you wanted, rather than just ending up looking a cunt.


Bo said...

As one given to high levels of politeness and manners, when I lose it, I really, really lose it: often in a rather cold way. Last summer I was being served in tesco by a gum-chewing girl of about 16, whose non-employee mate was hunkered by her till chatting to her. She didn't speak to me, look at me, or interact with me at all during the transaction, all the time slack-jawedly yakking on to her mate about the previous night's vulgar and banal goings on. As so as she handed me my receipt, still without a word or a glance, I walked straight to the customer service desk and made a formal complaint. The CS desk was right behind her till. I pointed at her, arm fully extended, The Crucible style, saying loudly: 'Yes, her, that one there, the vacant, insolent one, yes, the one that's fair had a bad bleach.'

vilges suola said...

Boy, wish I'd been there to see that! I'm not good at the crash of denunciation. I tend to stay with the sotto voce snort-and-chunter option myself.

mac said...

It's a good thing you don't live in Greece anymore !! I can tell you have reverted to the U.K. level of stroppiness ! You certainly wouldn't have done it in Greece because you knew from the beginning that it would have been a complete waste of time. Next time think of your blood pressure before you let yourself get annoyed !! :-))))))
Den Mpeirazei !!!!!

vilges suola said...

Ah, now missus, didn't I buy one o' them feckin blood pressure monitorin' yokes only this very morning on doctor's recommendation. It won't stop me getting annoyed though.


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