We are all familiar with the BBC programme “Grumpy Old Men” and here in Northern Ireland we have our very own brand of grumpiness – one that is infused with begrudgery and cynicism.
And I am no different to any other Northern Ireland male over the age of 40 – (it tends to start at this age and get worse as the years progress).
I have pet hates and the top of my list is the police – well not so much the police but the pettiness of the police and their over pre-occupation with catching people using their phones while driving, having a pee behind a hedge, issuing points for having a light out and the petty list goes on.
In my grumpiness I want the same rights as citizens of the USA and would like the opportunity of voting for the Chief Constable and vote him / her out if they fail to deliver on promises to deal with criminals.
That way we can get a concentration of resources on real crimes instead of filling the books with perceived petty money collecting schemes – perception is everything in our wee country.
I’m grumpy about loud music unless it is the kind that I like. Stone Roses, heavy metal or rap is not my thing – but 2 hours of Don McClean, Christy Moore or Judith Durham would be real music.
And they do not make television programmes like they used to either. Noel Thompson was taken off the air and he was brilliant, versatile and took on all comers. He asked the questions I wanted asked.
I am grumpy with the false camaraderie between news presenters when they hand over to the sports correspondent or the weather forecaster.
The latter being the worst of all as there is a belief that somehow the weather is dependent on the goodwill of the forecaster. Mark Carruthers asks Cecelia Daly, “Well Cecelia what can you do for us today” to which she replies “Well I will do my best but no promises”. Thanks, Mark; thanks Cecelia; hello Frank; good evening Barra; hello Wendy – and on it goes.
I am both grumpy and cynical at the hand over to outside correspondents “Now over to our correspondent at Stormont, Mark Davenport”.” Hello Mark” – “Good evening Donna”. “It is all go at Stormont today Mark”. “Absolutely Donna” – and on it goes.
I am both grumpy and cynical and I begrudge the Times Rich List – yet I read it every year. I feel it is vulgar of those people to flaunt their wealth on an annual basis and yet I do the Lottery and Euro Millions in the forlorn hope that I can be one of them. Hope springs eternal!
I am grumpy about the sexual revelations of the stars and celebrities and how the tabloids find this so appalling and then proceed to show us a page three girl.
I am grumpy about Christmas being shortened to XMAS as if it were a skin disease; Cynical about Santa coming to Castle Court on the 1st November when we have not even finished the nuts from Halloween; begrudge those who do well by a stroke of luck or because of who they know and remark that I remember them when they did not have an arse in their trousers.
I am grumpy about modern technology and why my 8 year old niece knows more about it than I know at 51.
Grumpy about unhelpful and disinterested shop assistants who think the only colour that I should you wear is beige.
Grumpy about the bad grammar of the express check out at Tesco “Ten items or less” is bad grammar – it should read “Ten items or fewer”.
Grumpy that women always pay in change and hold up the queue. Grumpy at those who sneak into the express checkout with more than ten items. Cynical at prices being nine pounds and 99 pence – it’s a tenner; no man wants the penny back again.
I begrudge letting people out into the queue of traffic especially when they do not wave in acknowledgment – mainly because this act of kindness on my part makes them do likewise and by the time I get to my destination 40 people have reciprocated the act of kindness and kept me an hour late.
My only comfort is that most of my fellow countrymen share this grumpiness. We try to resist it but we hear its siren call and must surely surrender to its will. We rail against a world that we are increasingly disenchanted with.
We are cynical of our politicians who for many years portrayed the other side as brothers of Beelzebub only to sign a piece of paper and become friends with them overnight leaving the rest of us to ask what it was all about. We begrudge them their junkets, large pay packets, big houses and ministerial cars.
Secretly we would love to phone the Nolan show or Wendy and tell the world what we really think but then we would be labelled as extremist, right wing or in need of help.
So the basic Northern Ireland male dominated trait is a cocktail of grumpiness, cynicism and begrudgery. Like an old pair of slippers we are comfortable in this state – it is what we do best. And as for our women – how do they put up with us?