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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 08-Jan-15 17:21:00

15 things to be grumpy about

Author, journalist and professor of Modern English Literature, John Sutherland, gives us a comprehensive list of the things that really get his goat - from 5p coins to Canadian pharmacists (yes, really). What makes you see red?

John Sutherland

15 things to be grumpy about

Posted on: Thu 08-Jan-15 17:21:00


Lead photo

What makes you see red?

You should, Dylan Thomas told his dying father, 'rage' against the end. Time enough for resting in peace when you're resting in peace. The Welsh bard, alas, never made it to 40 (raging all the way, like a bull confronted with the gelding shears). No going gentle for young Dylan.

Below are fifteen things that enrage (b. 1938) me.

1. The Oldie. For some reason they send me two unsolicited copies monthly. I toss both without taking them out of their plastic sheaths. I don't need a pneumatic bath pillow, a stair lift, or - least of all - a bloody Barbour jacket.

2. Politicians like Nick Clegg who blandly inform me that I'm a millionaire, apparently, and shouldn't have a 'freedom pass'. I often complain about it to Alan Sugar, who rides the same 27 bus with me. I don't think. Beware the grey vote, Nick. It's coming for you.

3. People who bump into me on the pavement and look at me as if they're surprised I'm (still) there. I know why, of course. The young ladies don't see me as a prospect, the young men don't see me as a threat and the middle aged many are in work (or looking for it) and must bustle. Sharp elbows, as Thomas Carlyle said. I'm invisible.

4. Actors on TV who mumble. Newscasters I applaud for their clear diction. At parties I think all guests should either have subtitles or volume knobs.

People who bump into me on the pavement and look at me as if they're surprised I'm (still) there.

5. Every young stripe (with the exception of young Scandinavians, oddly) who won't surrender their 'elderly' privilege seat on the London tube.

6. The Canadian pharmacists who send me emails boasting of how cheap their Viagra/Cialis tablets are.

7. Bus drivers who, as soon as I get on, start lurching their bus around like cops on a high speed chase.

8. Tamara Ecclestone (viz)

9. Cardboard milk, fruit juice and soup cartons that need nimbler thumbs than mine (at any period of my life) to open. And those unopenable plastic bags in supermarkets.

10. The London A-Z which has, mysteriously, shrunk its print to a point-size that only nano-technology could handle, although, I confess, it could be something to do with my eyes.

11. The prostate gland.

12. The gremlin in my house (I recognised him in Paranormal Activity) who thinks it’s funny to hide my glasses and the TV remote control. Mr G. sometimes lurks in the washing machine and eats one (just one) of my socks.

13. 5p coins. I'm constantly having to bend down and pick the little sods up. Oddly enough, I used to love tanners - remembering, of course, long ago pocket money ("I've got sixpence, jolly little sixpence….").

14. Whoever it was who decided to decimalise our beautiful English coinage.

15. Anyone who thinks 'silver surfer' is a smart thing to say.

I could go on, and I hope I do for another twenty years at least. But, the fact is, I've had a hugely lucky life - living, so far, longer than my parents and grandparents in conditions that they, poor working class folk, would have regarded as unimaginable luxury and privilege. The greatest privilege of all, of course, the education they (quite as clever, or cleverer, than me) were denied and which their sacrifices (especially those of my mother) gave me. In memoriam matris, un-ragefully.

John's book, Last Drink to LA: Confessions of an AA Survivor is published by Short Books and is available from Amazon.

By John Sutherland

Twitter: @shortbooksUK

Anne58 Thu 08-Jan-15 17:36:35

I think I love you, John Sutherland grin

Anne58 Thu 08-Jan-15 17:38:20

PS Born 1958, but agree with you anyway! There are loads of things I could add to your list!

janeainsworth Thu 08-Jan-15 17:48:52

I don't think Dylan Thomas was urging his father to rage against such trivialities as 5p coins, was he? confused

inishowen Thu 08-Jan-15 18:57:44

I'm still in a huff with a young restaurant manager who asked my husband and I if we were there for the OAP special. I was 50 and he was 49 at the time. I've been raging for twelve years now!

Nonu Thu 08-Jan-15 19:08:54

Why on earth be grumpy, just get on with it and enjoy life.


henbane Thu 08-Jan-15 19:21:37

WRT No 9: you missed off those wretched foil blister packs that medication now comes in. It was ok when I just needed the odd aspirin, but now I'm on 11 bloody pills a day. When I collect my scrip it takes an entire afternoon to extract them all and transfer to easy access plastic tubs.

babyjayne Thu 08-Jan-15 20:04:47

My confidence took a knock when two young men were standing in my way. One said to the other 'let the old lady go past'. I was devastated.

Aren't there any young gentlemen these days

Ana Thu 08-Jan-15 20:07:02

Well, those two sound like a couple of them! smile

Mishap Thu 08-Jan-15 20:14:14

Only 15!?

rosequartz Thu 08-Jan-15 20:15:08

I can discount most of the items on the list (must lead a completely different life to John Sutherland!)

5p coins go straight from my purse into the charity tin on the shelf (yes, they are annoying)
I have never received 'The Oldie' - even though I am one!
People in Bristol must be more polite as they tend to apologise if they bump into you.
In answer to No 4 - use the subtitle, and at parties just smile and say 'yes' (and the occasional 'no' just in case)
Make your own soup, don't buy cartons - and fruit juice is bad for you now! (all that sugar)
Who is Tamara Ecclestone?
I am not a millionaire - thank goodness by the sounds of it!

But yes, we have a gremlin in our house too!!

And 'silver surfer' is marginally better than 'grey nomads' which is what older travellers are known as in Australia.

Ana Thu 08-Jan-15 20:28:06

Where did 15 come from? confused

Yes, people apologise if they bump into me too - and I do the same! grin

Ana Thu 08-Jan-15 20:29:01

(Sorry, scrub my first line - I'm obviously going senile!)

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 08-Jan-15 20:29:34

I like that cup. I wonder if you can still buy it.

Ana Thu 08-Jan-15 20:31:05

I wonder if the face is on the other side as well? Otherwise it would only work if you were left-handed...

merlotgran Thu 08-Jan-15 20:37:45

I was exceedingly grumpy yesterday in WH Smiths when a young woman with a large back-pack barged past me then stopped suddenly to look at a magazine on a bottom shelf. As she squatted down her back-pack filled the narrow aisle and nearly sent me sprawling. angry

Anya Thu 08-Jan-15 20:44:39

Hosepipes ......... that you unravel from their giant spool and after fighting to attach it to the outside tap, you lug it to the bottom of the garden only to find there's a kink somewhere and only a dribble comes out. So you retrace your steps, straighten it out only to find the hose pipe now in full flow, spinning round and round so you get drenched as you try to recapture it.

soontobe Thu 08-Jan-15 21:26:14

I dont do grumpy either Nonu.
I either accept things or try and stop/solve them.
I dont see the point of the middle ground of complaining/being grumpy.

Soutra Thu 08-Jan-15 21:33:19

You two do seem to be kindred spirits. smile

GrannyGear Thu 08-Jan-15 21:37:10

It annoys me when people criticise "The Oldie" without ever reading it. It's a great magazine. Don't be put off by the title. If John Sutherland doesn't want his free copies why not email the Oldie saying so. Or at least donate them to his doctor's or dentist's waiting room and give patients something decent to read for a change.

Nonu Thu 08-Jan-15 21:52:42

SOUTRA, would you like to be a KINDRED SPIRIT ALSO, you are more than welcome , I am sure SOON would have no objections.

Anne58 Thu 08-Jan-15 22:13:03

I have never received a copy of The Oldie either, although I did once submit an article which was rejected!

However I do agree with quite a few of his points, and I rather like his style!

soontobe Thu 08-Jan-15 22:17:53

No problem Nonu!

rosequartz Thu 08-Jan-15 22:20:40

merlotgran - a very gentle push and you could have overbalanced her completely! wink

merlotgran Thu 08-Jan-15 22:29:53

I did think about it, rose but once squatted she looked a bit like one of those weebles that wobble but don't fall down.