I’m sure the readers of this blog are good, tolerant, ethically-minded people who take it as read that they should oppose racism, counter homophobia, share their sweeties and be kind to furry animals. But what, I wonder, gets your goat? What trivial, unworthy things really make you see red - kind, sweet and good-natured as you most undoubtedly are? I ask because I’m back at work after a fourteen day gap in which I pleased myself when I got up and when I retired, and so I am probably going to be hyper-ratty for a day or two until I resign myself yet again to the recurring dream which is ELT.
Level one: mild irritation
My working day starts with a forty minute train ride which can be quite relaxing if I have a good book. One thing I could really do without, however, is that conductor on East Midland trains who comes down the carriage twittering ‘any more tickets at all this morning from Oakham, please?’ with a jaunty back-slap of a rise-fall on 'Oakham', as if to say ‘jolly old Oakham, oho, the times we had there, eh?’ I don’t hate this, or of course him, but it makes me want to take him aside and point out to him that ‘tickets please’ would be no less polite and no less effective in getting the job done and it wouldn’t distract me from my book. I mean, when else could it be, other than this morning? Does ‘at all’ mean anything here? Oakham is a place few of us really give a sod about, it just happens to sit between where we came from and where we’re heading. So let’s have no more of this nonsense, hmmm? Then he gets onto the loudspeaker and says ‘the next station this morning will be Melton Mowbray!’ as though the route were variable and he thought a stop at dear old Melton might be a nice surprise for us.
Level two: somewhat greater irritation
Some useless arse in the university has caused notices to be stuck outside all the lifts reading ‘Health and Wellbeing. Please consider using the stairs instead of the lift’. As a rule I do just that, but today I cut my nose off to spite my face and used the lift, wishing for once that there was a CCTV camera trained on me so that someone could note my defiance. God's cock, what next? They’ll be expecting us to start the day with a spot of collective physical jerks, as in a Japanese car factory.
Level three: really quite rattled
Chewing gum. I know it’s pathetic to get steamed up about something so harmless and commonplace, but I loathe it, sight, smell and sound, most especially the sound. Yesterday I had four hours in the presence of a student who was worrying a wad of gum with his mouth wide open. Had he been a teenager I would simply have told him to get rid of it, but he was a Major (near enough) in the Algerian navy, so I felt I had to endure the awful, endless, squelchy, sloppy, ploppy racket. It sounded like someone ladling quantities of frog-spawn and jelly-fish into a tin bucket right next to me. I knew not merely irritation, but fury. Utter Fucking Rage. I actually bit the end off my pen. Better than punching him in the teeth, I suppose, given his status and our relationship, but still, it must have presented a curious sight.
I cannot be alone in this – can I? Add a comment and tell me what really pisses you off. Must be 100% irrational, mind.