I usually try to make my posts jolly and jovial, but I feel it is high time I let off a bit of steam about the things that give me the raving hump. I find myself in a world full of stupidity and downright greed; a world inhabited by some insufferable cretins.
In no certain order, here goes...
I am not a member of the great unwashed, but I refer to the televisual plague that hits us at around half past seven every evening. I refer to Eastenders and Coronation Street in particular. At this time each evening, the nation, strangely, tunes in to watch half an hour of anger, despair and ignorance.
Our love of these questionable institutions has grown to the point that they go out every night, and even fix their broadcasting times to ensure that fans can simply go from one to the other without missing one acerbic remark or failed wedding which involves a punch up or a tragic death involving a revenge fuelled, jilted lover. Of course, the makers would have it so - they know their viewers probably enjoy both programs and in any case, who am I to complain about what people watch? My issue lies with the doom and gloom of the shows. Within seconds of the irritating theme tunes, we're treated to an on-screen argument full of bile and venom. Faces gurn with rage and contort with spite. When they're not arguing or fighting? Why, they're brooding about the last one or plotting for the next one; living for being stitched up or stitching up.
Time was, when these shows would also offer those light hearted moments designed to bring joy - they are, after all meant to be reflections of real lives. Today, they reflect the lives of those who spend their lives at odds with everyone and everything. This is a world where moments of happiness are only intended to be the precursor to a new low of despair or disaster.
My final, most troubling problem with it all, is that real life is starting to reflect the soap. Trouble: This nation loves it. Once a the nation of the stiff upper lip, we blub at anything and everything and turn each little molehill of a disagreement into a mountainous range of deeper issues and woe.
Do yourself a favour, should this part of my post upset you - watch some comedy. Cheer up!
2. The Price of Gas.
There is a cracking song by Bloc Party called the Price of Gas, the lyrics to which sum up my point about fuel perfectly, but my point here goes further. It is the price of everything.
A couple of years ago, we got ourselves a camper van. We got a diesel one, because, at the time, it was cheaper than petrol. The very second I handed over the money for the van, some Russian oil baron got together with a suit from the treasury and decided to up the price to exorbitant levels, just to piss me off.
I baulk at the cost every time I roll past a petrol station. Maybe this is all part of my transition to grumpy old mandom, but I think I have a point here. How and why is it so expensive in the UK?
We pay a high rate of tax as it is, but we get taxed on everything. I think George Harrison had a point when he sung about being taxed
for walking the streets. We have a shocking history where tax is concerned. We are slowly being rogered by governments, be they red or blue, with tax on those things they deem to be damaging. Most infuriatingly, they do it in the name of public health. Fuel damages the environment, so they hike up the price, ensuring that a fat wad goes to the treasury, presumably to fund a few second homes for the pointless tossers who make up our government. Alcohol and binge drinking is an issue, so they hike up the cost of a pint and tax those who enjoy a drink. Our road system is utterly rubbish, yet we pay a further tax to sit still on motorways, balls our suspensions up by endlessly bouncing over pointless speed bumps and mini roundabouts or crawl past workmen who seem to be scratching their balls and eating sandwiches rather than fixing the problem.
A trip to Tesco sets you back a vast portion of the money you work harder than ever to earn and all you're getting is suspect meat and 'deals' that are dressed up in such a way that even they are a rip off. Every Little Helps? Drop the fucking price - that'll help, you greedy fuckers.
The karaoke factor contestant wins through to the live shows - a moment of pure joy for the contestant. This signals the beginning of the fruition of a dream. From starry eyed kid, singing with a hair brush in their bedroom, to instant fame and success...what do we get? Elation? Running around the studio high fiving the audience? Mooning at the vanquished opposition? Nope. Tears. A tirade of whining and face pulling, nose streaming with snot. It doesn't stop there of course. We then get the pukey interview with the parents, who also cry, and then the harrowing tale about how the contestant's pet aardvark died in a freak electrical accident when he was 9, and we then return to the judging panel, who are now also sobbing. Come on!
Don't cry about it! Did you miss-hear the result? You won? Dermot McCall or Davina McPartlin or whoever said you won! They didn't say you'd be taken from this place to observe the brutal re-enactment of the killing of the aardvark. Grow up.
Another scenario - the celebrity is being interviewed by Piers Knob-Chops and we're being treated to the heart wrenching story of how they overcame chicken pox when they were six and we're all marvelling at the strength and integrity of this multi-millionaire, wondering how on Earth they made it through to become someone who is famous for shagging someone who is actually famous.
It is half an hour of tears and tabloid friendly revelation, and, because as a nation, we all love junk like Eastenders, this on-screen sadness is right up our street.
What ever happened to that stiff upper lip?
4. Tabloid press.
I am by no means a genius. In fact, I am capable of colossal feats of dim-witted lunacy the like of which should not be acceptable for a man of my age. I can refer to the time I first electrocuted myself changing a light fitting and then getting locked out the very weekend my wife went on holiday. Had I not dismissed her prior concern for my own safety, I may not have felt so bad. However, I am not so stupid that I can't form my own opinion.
Pick up the Sun, Mail or Mirror, and, it will invariably form an opinion on something for you. Immigrants are bad (brilliant, that, in an island nation made up of three thousand years of immigration) or sticking a Tommy hat on an England footballer every time we play Germany. The red tops really are the lowest, most pitiful embodiment of modern ignorance and intolerance.
Somewhere in the world, the most incredible events could take place. There could be the loss of a world leader, a wonderful feat of record breaking, a tsunami, hurricane or a plague of locusts wiping out Lincolnshire. Where would we find it? Maybe on Page Three, in a witty comment by Danni, 19 from Watford. On the front page? Probably the latest instalment of Kerry Katona's battle with depression over spending over two weeks without whining about something on my TV, or some 'f' list celebrity pouring their heart out for a few bob.
Turn to the back and not much is different. The England manager will have a root vegetable photo shopped onto his head two weeks after he was the very same man who was going to bring the world cup home.
Fickle, low grade journalism.
Tell me the news, and I'll sort out my own opinions.
Yes, shocking isn't it? My first love. It was once said in a school report that I had a football for a brain. Either the teacher was insinuating that I was thick, that the inside of my skull was lined with an inner-tube or, more likely, that all I ever thought about was football. The latter was, and largely, still is true.
So why football? Well, I mean modern football.
Each game seems to have something farcical about it. Either a winning goal has been scored following a deliberate handball or a player has been sent off because an opponent went down like a Bangkok whore after a pay rise. Increasingly, the games are being ruined by the players, yet the TV stations and aforementioned red top papers point the finger squarely at the ref.
You can sit through any game, and the presenters will agonise over the 15th slow motion replay of an incident, from the 5th angle to all agree with disgust that, yes, the referee has got it wrong. Then one of them will pipe up - "And what was the linesman doing then?"
Look here, Hansen, you miserable, dour, relic. The man has seen that happen in real time, had a split second to make a call, has probably had an over-paid toss pot, probably John Terry screaming in his ear as it happened and decided the wrong way. I'm sure, if you could run around the park with a TV studio worth of equipment to help you out, you'd do a better job, but until that time, lay off.
As for the players. Theo Walcott assures us Gooners that his recent spat about a new contract wasn't about money. Well, that's lovely. It is so warming to think that a player of average ability would consider to play for my team for a mere £80,000 per week. He very soon signed the second the club upped his pay to £100,000 per week.
Now, this brings me on to my final point. If I was given such a pay rise, I'd expect to work a proportionate amount harder, and my boss would certainly expect an increased output. Are these players giving £100,000 performances every week? I'm sick and tired of hearing that no-one is hurting more about Arsenal's inability to win than Arsene Wenger. If someone gave me his £130,000 per week every time I sat through watching them capitulate, I'm sure I'd care a little less. I suffer for free.