DJ Taylor: Mr Grist would be mortified to hear himself described as one of nature's complainers

 

Share

'I think you'll find I'm within my rights," Mr Grist announces, one foot poised on the kerb of Siskin Drive, Dorchester, where the Grists have their domicile, both eyes trained on the monstrous cypress hedge whose possible trimming is the subject under discussion.

Darryl from next door, to whom these remarks are addressed, is 30 years younger than his neighbour, six inches taller and has been heard to describe him as "an interfering old ____", but it is a fact that within 24 hours a tree surgeon has called at the property and reduced the landmark by a height of several feet.

A lesser man would perhaps have paused to luxuriate in his triumph, but Mr Grist has already moved on to new challenges. By the time the wood has been dragged away he is deep in a letter to the manager of the local supermarket, drawing the latter's attention to the existence of a can of baked beans, purchased by himself at a price of 79 pence, by comparison with the 75 pence that prevails in a second branch four miles away on the other side of the town. This brings not only an apology but half-a-dozen extra cans gratis and a voucher for a free cup of coffee.

Grey-haired now, not far short of his seventies and with a modest professional life as an audit manager some years behind him, Mr Grist would be mortified to hear himself described as one of nature's complainers. Nothing could be further from the role he imagines himself to play in life, which is that of the vigilant campaigner for justice. He had a spectacular falling out the other month with the firm that services his boiler and, by dint of writing to two newspapers and his local Member of Parliament and, further, getting the case taken up by the Consumers' Association, contrived not only to have the boiler replaced, but did so with a different and possibly more expensive model.

Curiously, little of this tenacity attends Mr Grist's domestic life in Siskin Drive, where he is supposed to be thoroughly sat upon by Mrs Grist. The friends to whom in his meek-minded way he offers entertainment on the evenings when Mrs G is at her book group are sure that he "means well", and certainly there are worse ways of spending your time, or even achieving some form of emotional release, than by writing letters to supermarkets about baked beans.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor