Rhodri Marsden: Here's one newspaper column to read before you die

Life on Marsden

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There's been this weird, high-pitched whining noise alternating with a strange, low-pitched moaning sound. It's been going on for months. It's me.

I've never been one to shun a chance to complain, but my capacity for annoyance is gradually increasing, like petrol prices, which are also annoying. Everything riles me. Recently I vented fury at some magazine article entitled "10 Hotels to Stay in before You Die", demanding to know what post-death hotel recommendations might look like, and why the headline didn't read "10 Hotels to Stay in" – or, for that matter, "10 Hotels". Ukuleles make me cross. The way Timothy Spall says "Wickes" narks me. Unnecessary prepositions affect my mental health: DJs "playing out" a record, or television chefs "frying off" some onions. Up yours. Theirs.

I usually turn to the internet when I feel battered by these piffling grievances because I know I'll find some solidarity. But last week I stumbled across a Twitter account operated by motivational coaches the Speakmans. They're a married couple who look how pop duo Dollar would have done if they hadn't started hating each other's guts in 1983, and are known for helping celebrities to get over such unspeakable traumas as beetroot intolerance or sock-drawer malfunction. "It never ceases to amaze us how people focus so much on things that make them sad," they tweeted. "It's almost like they love to punish themselves." This resonated with me. So I followed them.

And, perhaps predictably, I started punishing myself by reading their vapid aphorisms, which were designed to reassure but had the opposite effect. "You want to know who's amazing and has the cutest smile ever?" they posted. They meant me – you, all of us. But I don't have the cutest smile ever, and informing 15,000 followers that they all have the cutest smile ever is at best disingenuous and at worst a recipe for a massive fist fight in a pub car park. So I sent them a mild complaint. They replied: "Aphorisms have the ability to change lives, and we are trying to do just that." So I unfollowed them, because I didn't agree. And their name annoyed me. The Speakmans is unwieldy. The Speakmen would be better, I think, because I'm a man who believes in calling a table-tennis table a tennis table. More efficient, less annoying.


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