Age. It's not all consolation prizes and feather bedding.
There is a psychological tendency so many of us suffer from in our fifties. We change, we decay, we shrink, our temper shortens, we become old gits. It's only too tempting.
But losing one's temper doesn't frighten people any more, it makes them laugh.
So I exercise morally now. It helps keep a fellow fit.
* The rubbish truck pulls out onto the road in front of you and then stops. If it went a foot forward you'd be able to turn left and go another way. But it doesn't.
We hum to ourselves. The blockage won't last all day. We won't be here tomorrow morning. We smile. We turn the engine off. Calmness descends.
* You step down from the train and the man in front stops suddenly to extend the handle of his bag. You nearly fall over it. He now takes up the platform space of three people, dragging his sodding hand bag behind him.
We would know this was going to happen, if we looked ahead. We must keep alert, we must take other people and their peculiar ways into account. We are calm again.
* Aboard the train, you are sitting in the middle of a row of three seats and two fat people sit on either side of you. One has serious sinus problems; the other is eating a kebab. It creates a discernible disturbance in his enormous digestive tract with results at either end.
Ah yes, the sadness of the flesh. Our bodies fail us, the nights continue to shorten. And they can't live much longer, either of them. We are... calm.
* A child is asking precocious questions and its father is giving full answers in a normal, adult way. Both are talking slightly too loudly.
Not all families are like ours. There is hope for humanity. If we produced an axe and chopped them both up it wouldn't end well. Murder is a form of suicide. And you might be made to clear up the mess as part of a community sentence.
* A mother with twins in her special, two-up push chair walks out into the road without looking because she has rights that other road users without twins just don't have in their selfishness.
We are panting now...
* In the crowded caf you need an extra chair. You say, "Excuse me, is this chair taken?" And the person at the table says, "Someone's sitting there..." After an hour they get up and leave and no one has come to join them.
The breathing is getting laboured...
* The girl in the shop says, "Do you want a bag?" as if asking whether I'd like to destroy the planet. Then she flips a bag onto the pile of purchases and looks away.
The red mist rises, as if off the moor...
* A woman at the counter starts putting her purchases into her bag while the shopgirl waits to be paid. The queue behind us grows. Then she takes out her purse and counts out brown coins into pounds. She is pennies short. There is no more change in her bag no matter how thoroughly she looks for it. She uses her debit card, putting on spectacles before pushing at the numbers one by one and her child remembers it wants an ice cream so she....
No, it's too much. It's impossible not to become that old git, not with the world as it is.
Hurrah! The hunt is back
So, hunting with dogs is back. It's too difficult to define the difference between hunting a fox (illegal) and chasing it (legal). Judge Cottle allowed a huntsman's appeal against conviction.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the sport, the sheer physical courage involved is very impressive. Those horses move at terrifying speed when they get going, and there aren't any handlebars to hang onto. The beast has four chances every stride of falling into a rabbit hole and throwing you onto your head.
The hunters are called barbaric by opponents, and this may be correct. But then, there will come a time when we need our barbarians again. The world being as it is, and history doing what it does.
* Watching some club rugby on the weekend the Scarlets and the Saracens it came as a surprise how much more enjoyable it was than the international game. The players aren't as good; they make more mistakes, take more risks. We get more break-outs, and run-downs and bad refereeing more events, in short. More surprises. The spectators see more of the difficulties of the game because the players aren't as faultless as the best.
Professionalism can become quite arid in its effects. I remember doing a very professional job on some political leafleting. A cute headline, clean type, informative crossheads voters got the message just by looking at the thing.
Then some local campaigner sent in his effort. What a mess. Typed out on an old Imperial. No headlines. Rambling. Incoherent. It was vastly preferred by the membership to mine. It spoke to them personally. It said: "I am the sort of person you are."
There's less and less of the amateur spirit about. And that's the pity of it.Reuse content