I’m Not One to Moan, But . . . by Trevor Plumbly
My Day in Bite-sized Chunks
At 70 odd, pretty grumpy and more than a bit blind, I find it easier and more pleasant to divide my day into little manageable sections. It’s fairly basic really: a spell on the Exercycle to kick start the moveable bits, then on to the cryptic crossword to let my brain know that I haven’t croaked overnight. After that, an hour or so of general household chores, followed by preparing lunch. The afternoon usually slides by with a couple of hours reading, another crossword and some computer work. Promptly at 4 pm I stroll up the street to call in at my local, put the world straight with anyone of a like mind and wander back, remount the Exercycle and then plop down in time for the early evening news. All-in-all, it’s a pleasant, albeit predictable way of spending ones day. There are, of course, odd variations, but not many: people like me don’t do variations terribly well and, as a result, adopt all sorts of techniques to cope with situations outside our comfort zone. One of which is impromptu socialising and the light conversation that goes with it. I don’t regard myself as socially retarded, preferring to consider myself as more of a staunch introvert, but I do enjoy a good moan. Light social banter does little for me and I’ve found that chucking in a good moan throttles polite chit-chat within minutes. Whilst moaning as such has fallen into disuse through PC, there’s still a lot going for it emotionally. I’m sure it’s a lot healthier to say ‘I can’t stand that bastard’ than ‘I’ve got issues with that chap’. A minor point maybe, but I’m of the belief that there is a portion of the brain exclusively intended for storing moans and if you don’t use it, it clogs up all sorts of other bits that could present a false picture and cause you to be misunderstood.
A Very British Pastime
To my mind, moaning is a great pastime and an essential way to relieve one’s mind of coping with the strain of matters beyond our control, and, in all modesty, I’m pretty good at it. But then I’m British and it is a sort of national pastime, while our colonial chums aren’t at all taken with it and refer to it as ‘whingeing’, treating it as a character weakness: ‘She’ll be right mate’ is the common cry down here regardless of the issue. To me, that sort of attitude reduces life to Valium-induced torpor. Imagine if an income tax increase was announced in Britain and everybody responded by saying ‘She’ll be right’ or ‘You get that’ – politicians would see it as a form of assent and inflict yet more fiscal and verbal punishment, good barmaids would become redundant and barbers and taxi drivers reduced to useless monosyllabic appendages to life’s journey.
The Essential Art of Moaning
No! We all need to re-think our values here and stop this ‘Mary Poppins’ train of thought before it does any more damage to the fabric of society: before we know it we’ll have mass murderers singing “A spoonful of sugar” from the dock after being sentenced. The simple fact is that apart from a few ‘goody-goody two shoes’ we all need something to resent. Put simply, if winning didn’t exist, losing wouldn’t matter, and, God forbid, the scales would be in a constant state of even balance. Our fathers and forefathers used to moan about the price of fags, the price of beer and the bloody government. Hell, we used to moan about the French all the time before this European Union nonsense; now we don’t even moan about the weather. Mark my words, gentle reader; the art of moaning is on its last legs. Use it or lose it!
Knowing the author, as one does, the title is a dazzling example of fraudulent misrepresentation – even the ‘But…’ can’t save it.
Due to a multiplicity of creative thought I was unable to respond to your comment earlier, however I would have thought the word ‘but’ would have considerable appeal to your legal mind as a sort of bridge between ‘riposte’ and ‘ripoff’.