Tag Archives: insane rage

Let’s talk about things …

Wow, I have a whole gamut of stuff washing around to talk about this week. I’m not sure if I’ll get through it all or do it justice but off we go.

First of all, last week, you’ll have noticed there was a break in transmission. Yep. No blog post. I meant to do one but then it was time for the Christmas Fayre I was getting all my shizz ready and … er hem … I forgot.

In my defence, my father’s memorial service took it out of me. It was wonderful but blimey I was knackered afterwards. Lots of emotional stamina required. Which reminds me, I should write and thank a lot of people. Yet more stuff to add to the gargantuan, War And Peace-length list of Shit MTM Hasn’t Done. Gulp.

The fayre was kind of a mix. It was the first time in a new venue and it took a while for people to realise we were there. Friday was quiet, Saturday reasonably busy, and Sunday a lot busier. The books sold well, although differently, a lot of people bought two; a copy of Escape From B-Movie Hell and a copy of Small Beginnings. The EyebombThereforeIAm calendars, which I thought would sell like hot cakes and bankroll everything, they didn’t sell at all. So that was bizarre.

The ill fated eyebombing calendar

The consensus among friends and family is still, ‘oooh I’d buy one of those,’ and some even have, but they clearly left the general public cold. I am selling some for charity, which might help. I had to sell 30 at £9.99 to pay for costs, I sold five at £9 and I have sold three to a lovely friend for £9.99. I picked £9.99 after researching them in local shops and discovering they were mostly £9.99 – £15.99 so I went for the lowest price. However, McOther tells me a pop up calendar shop has opened in the new shopping centre with prices from about £7.00 to £9.99 so perhaps I’m now at the high end.

Never mind, onwards and upwards. If you think you’d like one you can find out more here.

Dad’s memorial went well. It’s always interesting going back to Lancing because for the first sixteen years of my life it was my home. I also had another home, kind of a two sheds Johnson, that was me, because we lived off site in the holidays. But Lancing means as much to me, in a different way, as the other place I grew up, which Mum still lives in now. Going back is like having a little squiffy in your old house, seeing how the new owners have changed the decor! Although I haven’t been in our actual old house.

It was a glorious celebration. Really lovely. I cried my eyes out at the end in a way I hadn’t at the funeral, which was a bit embarrassing but also kind of cathartic and easy enough to hide because I was wearing a big hat. Just look down and hey presto! Nothing to see here. I suppose I felt it more because this was the last goodbye and the last thing we can do for Dad … well … except inter his ashes but we are going to … er hem … batch him and Mum. The eulogies were great, really funny, the way Dad would have wanted. Lots of stories about his antics. Some good shouty hymns. Really well chosen readings and the readers and speakers did a grand job. I even managed not to cock mine up! Woot! Although I was last up so I was shitting gargantuan bricks for most of the service. Listening to audiobook proofs all week helped in that respect as I just followed the little voice in my head that said ‘read it the same way’ and did. Minus the funny voices, of course.

Highlight of the readings they chose an excerpt from 1 John Chapter 20, which included verse 4:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

A perfect summation of Dad’s attitude, since he was the embodiment of love thy neighbour in a way that many of the loudest Christians on the internet – especially the mentalist, old-testament-thumping, gun-loving ones in the US – are not. Yes, if you think anyone is Satan’s own spawn because they think differently from you and say you love Jesus, you’re a liar! Love that.

Desmond Tutu stood here and so did I.

Huge amusement afterwards when we discovered a plaque bearing the legend, ‘Desmond Tutu stood here to dedicate this window to his friend Trevor Huddleston.’ Much incredibly mature ‘standing here’ where Desmond Tutu had stood ensued, from me, Bruv and Eldest Nephew, Good-King-Wenceslas-‘heat-was-in-the-very-sod’ stylee. Mwahahahrgh! Phnark.

With the election on, I think I am feeling Dad’s absence a lot more, mainly because of the race the bottom that is the election campaign. I’m one of these weird, old fashioned people who thinks that lies, soundbites and dirty tricks, just make a party look like a bunch of twats. I think fake news is a danger, not something to be embraced. I’m one of these old fashioned people who thinks dishonourable and shoddy behaviour, unkindness, opponent smearing, hypocrisy and bare faced lies, you know three year old caught with a hand in the biscuit tin and denying it, Scottish Spaceport is nearly built, let’s change our twitter name so we look like an impartial not for profit organisation disseminating facts rather than one of the contenders, kind of lies, and a general complete lack of integrity, are actually bad things. I still believe elections should be fought on issues although I’m not 100% sure if the labour site I’ve found is their real site or a conservative spoof. Sigh.

When it came to the day to day discipline of running his house, Dad had zero tolerance for three things, drinking hard spirits (he’d Not Catch boys drinking beer, wine or cider, so long as it wasn’t too out of hand but he would catch the spirit drinkers) drugs and bullying. Even so, nearly every boy my Dad expelled was expelled for bullying. One, who was expelled for doing something particularly stupid but which wasn’t bullying, was finally reinstated after three days, at my Dad’s behest. He didn’t stand by and let something go if he believed it to be an in justice.

Maybe that’s the trouble with this election; the glaring lack of statesmanlike behaviour in pretty much every one of the high profile politicians. The trouble is, there are decent people beavering away on the back benches for all parties. They just never seem to make it to the front.

To me and many others, the NHS is a good thing, and the death of a thousand tiny cuts to which the current and previous governments (of all colours) have subjected it is a bad thing. Successive governments have been breaking it so they can say, ‘look this doesn’t work’ and contract it out.

Take dementia care. My father paid tax all his life but until he was down to his last £14k he was not eligible for free health care, and even when he was, because he had a work pension, he actually paid for it, they just charged a lower rate. If he’d had a frontal lobe tumour it would have presented the same symptoms, but he would have been half a million quid richer when he died. Half a million quid of life savings which he’d earned and already paid tax on. You know tax don’t you, the stuff you pay so you get things like free healthcare from the NHS? At the point where he was weakest, most vulnerable and most in need of help, Dad was betrayed.

The thing is, hanging out with my Dad, as he became more and more mentally disabled, has turned something round in me. My Dad said and did some pretty grim things during various phases of his disease. Partly because there were no filters, partly because his world was warped and distorted by his disability, and I guess partly because his disability also warped his efforts at self expression. Sometimes he was horrible and that hurt because he was always my dad. And I knew that somewhere inside that inappropriate, screaming exterior was the gentle, kindly soul I knew. He just couldn’t reach us. A lot of the time, all he needed was the right word, the right help, to bring him back. We couldn’t always find it but we tried and I think he was aware of that.

But now when the conservatives talk about scroungers and tell disabled people to get jobs, when they foster the zero tolerance, claw-it-all-back attitude to social care and disability benefits I begin to wonder if I’ve jumped timelines or something, I’m so out of kilter with the way other people think. When they shame and vilify disabled or chronically ill people as scroungers, I feel sick. When Social Services ask my friend’s daughter, with achondroplasia, when she expects to get better I am unimpressed. This, a bright, very bright, intelligent human being, someone with a great deal to contribute to society, who was also in with a chance of becoming a future Olympic athlete. So not a scrounger or a free loader then. I’m beginning to understand what Sir Terry meant when he talked about holding onto the anger. It’s not angry ranting, well not always, it’s just righteous ire that burns the whole time. That’s why I have to write it out, it’s doing my head in.

The anguish of Dad’s last half year or so still haunts me and it probably always will, but it has also profoundly changed the way I see my fellow humans. I now realise, more than anything, that imagination is the most important gift we possess. It’s imagination that makes us able to see the other person’s side. It’s imagination that enables us to find a way through. It’s imagination that helps us understand that, if our enemies saw people’s heads off with a kitchen knife and post it on YouTube, the thing that raises us above them is that we don’t. It’s imagination that allows us to understand that torturing suspected torturers, ‘because they do it to us’ merely makes us one of them, possibly worse, because while they’re brainwashed and uneducated, we have the tools to know better and have made a conscious choice. It’s because we have imagination what we can realise that an eye for an eye merely debases all the arguments that our way is better than theirs at a stroke.

It’s imagination that makes us think before we wade in. It’s imagination that tells us when taking sides is necessary or merely petty. It’s imagination that allows us to step outside the bubble, accept and enjoy friendships with people who have different political viewpoints to us or are friends with people we don’t get on with. Politics is about issues and problem solving, it’s not a competition to see who can tell the most lies or paint their opponent as the biggest shit, although anyone looking at it now could be forgiven for thinking it is.

Another thing I have learned from the experience with my Dad is that everyone has a value, everyone is of some importance, everyone has something to contribute. I’m even beginning to see how Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, in Auschwitz, was able to feel sorry for the guards because they were so cruel. She thought their lives must be so empty, so without empathy, love, compassion and all the other things that make living so wonderful. I thought she was nuts at the time, now … I dunno. I am beginning to think it must be truly terrible to be as pompous as vainglorious as desperately in constant need of ego affirmation as Trump or Bojo. And yet I’m also beginning to see the humanity in the psychopaths, the killers, the mentally ill; those who I would have dismissed without a second thought as evil before I watched my father go insane. Perhaps I’m beginning to understand that many of them are just unwell. Mental illness is horrifically complicated but I seem to be able to extend them a courtesy I am finding it very difficult to give Boris, Trump and their ilk.

Dad always held the view that to get anywhere or do anything, you had to be a decent human being. He believed that being decent and honourable gets you quietly, unobtrusively, where you want to go. Because if you are straight with people and stand by them they will love you, and people who love you will move mountains for you. Not necessarily at the times, places or in a manner you expect but they will.

More and more, now he’s gone, I find myself sticking my head above the parapet, not because I care that much even, but because Dad’s not here to do it. Even if it’s just to joke about being the token bleeding heart liberal in some of my friendship groups and put a different point of view. But the thing is, despite half my friends having voted Brexit, which is a bit of a downer, we still all have so much common ground and we are still friends. Maybe this country will heal, if the politicians and the loud mouths will stop using the divisions to score points and entrenching them further; ie, shut the fuck up and give it time.

I can’t wait until this bloody election is over.

 

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Is it me that’s nuts or them?

WARNING!!!! There is swearing in this post. Actually, thinking about it, if you are offended by swearing what on earth are you doing here on my potty-mouthed blog? No but seriously, there is swearing, so please don’t read this if effing and blinding (and ranting) offends you.

Right, if all the non-swearers have left, on we go.

Rant mode activated.

Lately, I’ve been slightly worried that I might, perhaps, be going nuts. Perhaps it’s just the mean spirited horrid climate of the EU referendum that’s making me feel out of sorts. After all, while the folks voting leave are not all racist, you can bet all the racists will be voting leave. And then you get Farage with his smug bull frog grin and his ‘At Breaking’ Point’ poster aimed at brown people. I know I shouldn’t single him out but it’s so hard not to. Well, Mr Farage, Boris and co, if you look you’ll find most of us have been immigrants at some point including, very possibly, you own forebears. My uncle has been tracing my family tree and it turns out my family has a blood characteristic that is singular to North African blood. I look as white and middle class as they come and I can prove at least 1,000 years of residence in the UK but even so, it turns out I’m secretly brown. Which just goes to show what a load of shite it all is.

Farage allegedly has Huguenot antecedents, Boris German was it? but European for deffo (cf Who Do You Think You Are) and possibly this chap although I got that off Facebook so it’s probably lies since Facebook has wiped it from my timeline!

Boris JohnsonBut we have, Farage’s antecedents, clearly asylum seekers fleeing persecution if they were Huguenots, Boris’ German, as far as I recall, was an economic migrant. So both of them get to be here because our forefathers were a little more kindly disposed to their antecedents, when fleeing persecution, or moving to a place of better prospects, than he and his ilk are to others in the same position, now.

How ironic.

Looking at historic precedent, at what happened last time the economy went as far down the lav as this last recession, is quite a worry. Yeh, the crash of the 1920s… the world economy died on its arse what did we get? Facism, not to start with, but over a period of a few years, creeping in through people playing the race and hate card to get power. Playing the blame card to explain how things were, blaming brown people or ethnic minorities or people of a different faith rather than the handful of rich people who actually cocked it up. And what are we getting now? The exact same thing. Even though we’ve seen it all before and we know it’s bollocks and that fascism doesn’t work.

The whole racist thing does make me feel a bit … well … sick. Because the only difference is place of birth and melanin in the skin and because somewhere way back my umpteen times great grandfather was one these darker-skinned outcasts. Yes peps, I’m secretly coloured! If aliens exist, small wonder they won’t touch us with a barge pole. We’re poison; a bunch of complete and utter scum. The whole human race.

Someone shared a great post on Facebook the other day about how wonderful the 2012 London Olympics were, how great they made us feel our country was as we celebrated it in all it’s different diversity. How I wish we could somehow reset to that, before the hate-fest of the last election, the Scottish in/out referendum which was fought, as far as I could tell, entirely on an attempt to ignite a nationwide loathing of the English, and the EU referendum. Because we seem to have lost that. The climate in this country seems less than pleasant right now. And after some years without incident I seem to be encountering it on the streets of mild mannered Bury St Edmunds, where everyone is usually polite. This last week I feel as if I’ve run into arsey aggressive males every which way I turn. Worse, I seem to be as grumpy as the best of them.

Earlier this week, I was riding my bike down a street in town that is two way for bikes and one way for cars. Some knobend in a car coming the other way piled past me mouthing what was clearly obscenities, going by the hand gestures. Obviously the moron thought I was going the wrong way down a one way street because he was too much of a blind bastard to notice the signs telling him otherwise. What surprised me was my reaction. I mean, I gave him the bird, obviously because he had got it wrong and was behaving like a total fucktard but I also chased him, in his car, on my bike.

20160614_092206

To be fair, bikes tend to go faster than cars at that time of the morning and I just wanted to knock on his window and make some crushingly sarcastic remark themed around the concept of him borrowing my spectacles to read the big sign at the bottom of the street. I now have a picture of it on my phone to show to the next idiot – it does happen regularly but they are usually more polite.  I almost caught up with him but the traffic was moving more freely than usual so he escaped my withering scorn. Bad that.

Then yesterday, I was riding my bike along a quiet back street in Bury to collect McMini from school. There’s a part where the road narrows and as I reached it a car came up behind me. It was a blue mini – the new try hard version rather than the original 60s icon – and it was full of young men, except to call them ‘young men’ is inaccurate because, unfortunately they were more like a group of symbiotic molluscs with a single shared brain cell… only they were less brainy than that. And they were clearly drunk as well. They had the window open and the music on loud and they were shouting leerily. It wasn’t 100% intelligible but I got enough to understand what I’m pretty certain was, ‘Get out of the fucking way you fucking bag.’ Of course, the way the driver was leaning on the hooter was fairly indicative.

When I got through the thin bit they came piling past me. Oh how I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ride very slowly along the middle of the road up to the junction, but then, that would have made me a wanker. They roared past shouting at me – not sure what it just came out as noise but plenty of f word in it – and obviously, standard procedure, I gave them the bird. A few yards ahead was a friend walking along the pavement to collect her grandson from the school.

‘Did that just happen?’ I asked her as I passed.
‘We should report them,’ she said.
‘Yeh, I think they’re drunk,’ I replied and I rode on.

Richard Cheese (Dick to his mates) driving the mini sped up to the junction went over the crossroads without stopping and then got stuck behind another car which was parking. Again, numpty features lent on the hooter. Seriously, these guys were such a bunch of monumental dick splashes it was incredible. The other car carried on doing what it was doing because it was being driven by an old man, slowly. Knob features in his mini hooted more. Old man in car hooted back – good for him. I could hear them shouting at him as I approached.

And then I was alongside them. Waiting for the old fellah to move too. And their window was open and before I knew it I was giving them a piece of my mind except that, unfortunately, all that was in there was the one fingered salute and the word ‘wanker’. So there I am leaning down to the window shouting, ‘wankers, wankers you bunch of fucking wankers’ in a kind of sing song football chanty-tastic kind of way… with a bit of the aaaaaaargh from the ‘woooooooooah your shit aaaaaaaa’ thing that everyone does when the goalie for the opposing team takes a goal kick.

I mean what?

Where, exactly, has calm, mild-mannered MTM has gone? I’m still very level-headed in a crisis but time was, if someone was aggressive and unpleasant to me, I could stay cool and acerbic. Now, I seem to have lost my capacity for intelligent thought, the red mist descends straight away, hulk smash is the go-to setting, and I seem unable to think or act with any clarity or sense and behave … well … like them. I mean, the obvious thing to say was something along the lines of ‘blimey lads, which one of you is having the baby or is this not a mercy dash.’ Because they were the kind of guys who find any suggestion of womanhood way, way more insulting than being sworn at and it would have been a light hearted way of getting the point across that they were behaving like morons. At the very least I should have told them their car was really too rubbish for them to get away with driving like that or that they’d better stop shouting because the braincell they were sharing probably couldn’t do that, keep them all breathing and allow the bloke at the wheel to drive without accident. But no. Although I confess, shouting the simple wanker line in their faces was very cathartic.

They sped away and I could hear them hooting and shouting at every other car, pedestrian and bicycle that got in their way, or even vaguely near them, while they drove through the streets of the mediaeval town as if they were in a high speed police chase with the blummin’ Sweeny on their tail.

It was only when I got to school to collect McMini that I realised England were playing Wales that afternoon and kick off was at 3 o’clock. Clearly they’d been down the pub, got a bit slammed and decided they’d better drive home for the game – possibly, in their defence, because they didn’t want to drive home after watching it in the pub when they were even more rat-arsed.

I love football, but I found myself hoping England lost, just to really piss off all the people like that Mini full of plankton, not to mention the tossers who stood round at Calais throwing money at refugee children and mounted running battles with Russian fans – yeh, I don’t care who threw the first punch, it is possible to be a man and walk away. As for taunting little children about the same age as my lad? Really? They’re all on video. So, can we close the borders please and not let them back, because they don’t deserve to live here.

In defence of my own behaviour, I know my personal circumstances might contribute, I’m stressed, there’s no doubt about that. I am trying to be mother to a small child and dutiful daughter to elderly infirm parents both of whom suffer memory loss. My parents need my help running their lives – mainly the finances – but they are able to do just enough on their own bat to make it really hard for me to keep things on an even keel. I have so much to remember that my brains seems to have gone on strike and refuses to remember anything, which means every tiny task I try to do is frustratingly slow. Each time I try to organise my son’s birthday party, for example, I have to start at dot and read up what I’ve done and where I’ve got to. In short, I suspect my pissedoff-o-meter is very close to the red zone at all times. Times are hard, a lot of folks have money worries, maybe their pissedoff-o-meters are under the same stress as mine. Maybe.

But whatever’s causing it the mood in the nation, and the world, seems to be ugly.

To have two of the kind of events I would consider reasonably unusual within days of each other – well OK the one way thing isn’t, nobody sees that ruddy sign but they’re usually less rude – has shaken my confidence a little. It’s left me wondering if we’re all sick. If I’m sick.

The sooner this referendum is over the better. Doubtless there’ll be enough racist bigots voting leave for Murdoch to get his way and the leave vote to stick. But frankly, I like being in Europe. I like the idea of trading with the people around us rather than the ‘ally’ which happily buried this country – its government knowing full well what it was doing – with lend lease. If Europe seems dominated by France and Germany it’s because we didn’t effing join in at the start, when they did, even if it was Winston Churchill’s idea – and yes, I know; DeGaulle, tosspot, veto yada yada. It’s true that, for a while after that, we couldn’t. But we can now. If we choose to. Or we can turn our backs. Isolate ourselves and watch our economy go even further down the lavvy, like it has been the last couple of weeks as the world fears leave will win only oh so many times worse. Like sub prime was a pic-nic.

Personally, I like diversity, I like different peoples and cultures and sexualities and cuisines. Diverse societies are vibrant and thriving and full of ideas. I’d happily swap the arsehats in that mini for some economic migrants from the Calais camps any day of the week. I bet I know which group would contribute more to our society. Not all gay/muslim/brown people are bad. Not all hetro/’Christian’ (they’re not)/white people are good. It’s more complicated than that. Shitheads come in many different colours. Why would we turn our backs on some of the people geographically and culturally closest to us? It’s crazy.

Rant mode off.

Ah that’s better, and hey, whadda you know? I didn’t mention hell or hand carts once. 😉

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Careful with that axe Eugine! Drama at the garage: how MTM learns there are two sides to every argument.

Yesterday, I went to see the Old Dears. As you know Mum has had a stroke and Dad has a kind of dementia. These last few weeks he has had very limited mobility and been close to incontinent. We have newly brought in 24 hour live in care.

It’s hard.

As you can imagine my parents’ situation takes a lot of my mental air time right now … it seems I’m a long way into innerspace. What is interesting is how that has changed my perception of the world around me or perhaps, my ability to read it.

Check this, this is my Fitbit readout from yesterday.

FitbitBollocks

As you can see, my Fitbit is ADAMANT that I went up 157 floors. What I actually did was walk the usual 5 miles or thereabouts, probably, go up the stairs maybe 10 or 12 times? And do a 280 mile round trip in my car. For some reason, the way the steering feeds back to my hands convinces my Fitbit that I am walking. On the way home I put it on the seat beside me, at least then it only thought I’d walked half a mile (rather than the 3 miles it thought I’d done on the way down).

While I think I was a bit lardy yesterday, sitting around in a bucket seat listening to music for most of the time. My Fitbit thinks I was a physical dynamo doing 107 minutes of elevated heart rate activity. That figure was more like er hem … zero.

So, it just goes to show that two separate views of the same series of events can throw up completely different results depending on the presence, or absence, of one or two vital pieces of knowledge. You know I wasn’t an exercise dynamo yesterday because I’ve told you my Fitbit measures the bumps in the road as steps. Someone else without this critical piece of information might look at those stats and wonder, from all the stairs, whether I climbed the Empire State Building, or if I’m a triathlete.

Yesterday, this lesson was highlighted to me through the familiar medium of my making a complete tit of myself: I failed to understand the differences between the way someone else was seeing my actions and the spirit in which I knew they were made. In all things, it seems, communication and sensible clarity of thought are key. Pity I’m so crap at them, as this massive, completely unnecessary row I’m about to relate will demonstrate …

It’s a bright sunny Wednesday morning and after dropping McMini at school I walk back home via the market, pick up the car and set out for Sussex. I have about a quarter of a tank of petrol so I need to fill up.

Because it’s on the way and one of the three cheapest, I go to Tesco’s.  Now, Sainsburys, you have to pay at the Kiosk, Asda, you can only pay at the pump and Tesco’s you have a choice of both. Tesco’s has 3 or four rows of two pumps just far enough apart for you to get through and park if the two first ones are in use but one of the far ones is free. Unsurprisingly, with petrol prices rising by approximately one pence every day, it’s rammed. I pick my side and wait. Next to me are two builders’ lorries with a white Honda civic at the first pump and very quickly there is nothing at the second. The other side of me was a big lorry, blocking the way through. No-one was queuing there and a woman parked at the pump in front of the lorry was filling her car.

As you know, my Mum has had a stroke, so I am kind of feeling that I want to get to her and Dad quickly. I am therefore delighted when the woman parked at the pump in front of the lorry holsters the petrol nozzle.

Brilliant. I’ll nip through and reverse into her spot when she’s gone.

Except, Unfortunately, like most Tesco’s customers, she clearly finds it more convenient to fill up her car and queue for 5 minutes to pay in the kiosk rather than using the very much swifter pay at the pump option. I, on the other hand, prefer to wait 10 seconds for my credit card to be authorised at the pump, spend two minutes filling up my tank and then go. So I watch her go in to pay, note the queue is 7 or 8 deep so she’ll be some time, and wait.

We all sit there and I listen to the song, ‘Help’ by the Beatles in its entirety. Neither builder’s lorry drives through to the empty pump at the front of their line. Neither of the cars in front of me move – they are still filling up – and the lady whose car is still parked in front of the lorry is still queuing in the kiosk. Some time during the next song on my stereo, Mr White Honda finishes filling his car and sticks the nozzle back in the holster.

I feel pity for the builders when, like the lady in front of the lorry, Mr White Honda turns out to be a true Tesco’s petrol customer who, like the lady, spurns the faster, easier pay at pump option. Into the kiosk he goes to queue.

As I sit looking at the empty pump, with nobody using it, it occurs to me that I could have filled my car to the brim and departed a couple of times over. Tine is ticking on and I’m getting twitchy. I wonder, if I go to the empty pump, swipe my credit card, fill up and go before the driver of the white Honda returns to his vehicle, would that be queue barging? Surely if I am not holding anyone up or inconveniencing anyone it isn’t? I’m not pushing in, or holding anyone up, I’m just using something no-one is using while it’s free. Even better the folks behind me don’t have to wait for me. Yes, win-win. My brain, filled with, 24 hour care requirements, sick parents, etc agrees. The builders are clearly waiting for the white car so if I’m quick it’ll be fine. So I drive through and park up. As I get out of my car a man runs up to me shouting,

‘Excuse me! Excuse me!’ he yells, managing to imbue words ‘excuse me’ with an aggression and menace I never knew they held (I doubt he did either) ‘Can’t you see there’s a queue?’
His shouty vehemence puts my back up at once.
‘Yes I can but it’s not moving.’
He gets up to me a bit and raises his voice louder.
‘You’re jumping the queue.’
‘No I’m not, nobody’s using this pump.’
Two can do shouty, my friend. I am surprised at the volume of my voice as I bellow my answer back at him.
‘That’s because he’s bigger than I am,’ he makes a sweeping gesture at one of the lorries, ‘and he can’t get through, we’re waiting until this car goes and then we can both drive up together.’
This, delivered as if I’m a complete idiot for not knowing the bleedin’ obvious.
Ah note to self, there’s a hidden builder’s lorry etiquette to the art of buying petrol which must not be interfered with by mere mortals at any cost. I didn’t know that.
‘So? I’ll be gone before that happens.’
He looks more annoyed, indeed, as he reiterates that I’m jumping the queue and … yada … the blue touch paper catches and off he goes into space. I’m fully expecting him to start poking me in the chest with one finger such are his levels of vehemence. I feel bullied and at that mere thought, something in me unravels, the red mist descends. I tell him my mother is ill and I am in a hurry. He tells me that he’s sorry about my mother but that’s not his problem.
Obviously the precious 90 seconds I will delay him are far more important than the well-being of a vulnerable, ill old lady
(yes, I actually think this madness as he rants at me)  and so it is, that I, too, completely blow my top, for only the fifth time in my entire life, and join him in orbit.

More arguing ensues. I would write it down if I could, but to be honest I haven’t a fucking clue what I said, although I’m pretty sure I managed not to swear, which was a minor personal victory and probably the only positive I have to take away from this experience.

All the while as we harangue one another I am aware of three things:

  1. He doesn’t seem to be understanding anything I’m telling him.
  2. But this is unsurprising because my arguments are getting less and less cogent.
  3. There is something important I have missed that would defuse this.

I know that this whole situation is based on false impressions and wrong information. I know that I can stop his aggression in its tracks, stop him shouting at me and make him leave me alone. His angry bullying is totally unreasonable and inexplicable and this simple thing will allow him to understand that, but I am too angry and hurt to remember what the thing I need to remember is. I can’t speak or think coherently, I can only shout back at him. I want to step away from him. I want to ignore him. I want to take the fuel cap off, stick my credit card into the slot in the pump and fill up. I want to prove that I’ll be gone well before Mr White Honda gets back, well beyond the point when either lorry can can move, anyway. But I am afraid he will snatch the fuel cap from me and throw it into the hedge or try to physically restrain me. And then the police will be called, and I will never get to my parents.

Then I see that the woman who was filling her car at the far pump, in the row the other side of me, the one which is blocked by the lorry, has gone. The driver of the lorry is still filling it up, still blocking her pump from anyone else. ‘Alright, I’ll go over there, and I’ll still be gone before you get to fill up.’ I shout storming into my car and making a massive hash of parking it over by said pump.

And I would have been, of course, had I not been so apoplectic with rage by that time that I had to go and have another go. First I accosted the wrong bloke by mistake,

‘Oh bless you, sorry love,’ I tell him with a pat on the arm and then go to deliver a bitterly sarcastic apology to Mr Shouty for his totally unreasonable anger at me for not understanding builder’s etiquette, which, obviously, was very criminal of a non-builder and obviously I should have understood. But it’s his friend filling up the tank – who is clearly a decent bloke and gives me a genuine smile. Except I am too angry at being subjected to such a stream of unreasonable ire that I am unable to say the word etiquette and we both laugh as I stutteringly explain the cause. Obviously Mr Shouty has to come back then and protect his friend from what he probably sees as Angry Entiled Woman and has another go at me. I am still fully lit and so, channelling my inner fishwife I give just as good as I get. Telling him that I hope he’ll be treated with equal sympathy one day if his mother gets ill and he is trying to get to her – which is true but totally pointless,not a reasoned or rational argument and therefore pretty much redundant.

And all the while, Sensible M T is standing beside me, in a slightly out-of-body-tastic kind of way, watching in horror as I Basil Fawlty my way around the forecourt saying,

‘What are you doing?’

At last I listen to it. I have to, because I am, literally, spluttering with rage. Can’t get any coherent words out. Not at all. I go back to my car. Angry with myself for giving in to what I interpret as bullying from an aggressive male playing dog in a manger.

It takes approximately 90 seconds to authorise my card and top up the tank with 24 litres of petrol – oooooh and another 4 or 5 seconds to get a receipt. One of the cars I’d been queuing behind slows down, opens his window and calls out to me,

‘He was wrong and you were in the right,’ he said. I thank him. Perhaps he’d paid at the pump too.

It was only about 10 hours later that I realised what went wrong. I never told Mr Shouty I was paying at the pump. He and the other builder in front of him were in commercials. They probably use fuel cards or cash or some other means which entails dooming them to pay at the Kiosk forever, whether they want to or not. Pay at the pump was probably as dead a concept to Mr Shouty as it is to nearly every other Tesco’s petrol customer. It would never have crossed his mind that I was going to pay at the pump, bypass the kiosk completely, and be gone in under three minutes any more than it crossed my mind that I was not. He must have thought I was going to cut in and then stand in the kiosk waiting to pay for ages after Mr White Honda had gone. So then he’d have to wait for the other builder bloke to fill up and stand in the kiosk for ages, too, before he could get near a pump. And a commercial takes a lot longer to fill – he was probably putting a hundred odd litres in, not 24. In addition, we judge things by the parameters we’re used to, so he may well be thinking of my fill up would take about the same amount of time: ie much longer than it does.

Yeh, Mr Shouty probably believed he was looking at a delay of at least 20 minutes. No wonder he got in a strop. I think I might have been just as shouty, myself, if I was in his position and and I was reading what I saw that way.

So what can I learn from this? Apart from the fact that I get even more like Basil Fawlty when I get angry than I thought and must, therefore, keep my cool at absolutely all costs.

If I wasn’t already aware that stress and worry switch some important parts of my brain off, then, after trying to have that argument, I am now. Presumably that’s also why I drove up to the school in a thunder stom just now to collect my boy, only to remember that a friend’s mum is picking him up from school tonight, taking him round theirs for tea and dropping him off here! Bonus points there M T.

Communication and calmness are essential. Perhaps, this is the most important lesson; that communication is the name of the game, that calmness, even calm rage, is a better bet if you need to have a reasoned discussion but most of all that two different people can read polar opposites from the same information.

If I’d managed to stay calm and explained what I was doing properly, I doubt the slanging match would have happened. But if he hadn’t come up to me all shouty aggression, I might have managed that.

Assumptions … in any situation we and the other people round us make snap judgements and assumptions based on what we see. Sometimes they’re shite.

Would Mr Shouty have listened to my explanation? I don’t know. I do know that if it happens again, I’ll bet the angry person a tenner that I can fill my tank and be gone – without the kiosk and without any inconvenience to them – in under 3 minutes. I won’t collect though, because the odds are stacked against them to the point where it’s almost a scam.

Sigh. I’m such a plank. Never mind. At least I can laugh at myself.

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