Wednesday, 21 October 2015

101 Ways to Convince Your Psychologist You're Normal: Old Man Grumblings

All around me is destruction.  Paper falling from the skies as I stand looking out in panic and frustration.  Why? Why does this have to be this way? For all we have become as a society, for all our achievements, that it should come to this causes me great anguish.

I close my eyes. I close them and begin to wonder what a world would be like where this never had to happen. It’s a beautiful scene full of serenity and calm. It’s sunshine. It’s warm. 

I slowly open my eyes again whilst trying to hold onto the calming images that have now infiltrated my tired mind. I pick up the toilet roll and for the umpteenth time try to start the roll off without tearing it into a million little pieces.  

Why in 2015 are we unable to invent a toilet roll that can be used from it’s very first two-ply sheet? I don't want mismatched bit’s of ply or indeed a roll that wishes only to be one-ply.  I also don’t want to wipe my bottom with various sizes of torn tissue paper, no matter how soft or covered in aloe vera.

Life is full of frustrations.  I’m convinced that we wouldn’t need psychologists or anti anxiety medication if we could just solve a few simple problems. We all cope with the major stresses in our lives but the moment the bus is two minutes late we go into meltdown.

So for today I am a grumpy old man and this is what I need solving in my life. Everything on this list should be proceeded by the age old cliche ‘we can put a man on the moon but we can’t..’  

Actually, now that I think about it, what did people say prior to the 20th July 1969, when man actually did land on the moon? Maybe there was less frustration? ‘Fucking hell why wont my pen work? Mind you we cant’t put a man on the moon so maybe I’m expecting too much.’ Happier times I imagine.

 Anyway, I digress, so here goes:

Lids on jars.  I mean who can actually open these? I’ve seen grown men weep as they try to prize the lid off a jar of gherkins. Yes gherkins! This should be included on the annual ‘World’s Strongest Man’ competition. Stuff pulling a truck with your testicles, this is the real challenge for the muscled freaks.

Lights that don’t light up.  Old bulbs were so magical.  You flicked a switch and there it was.. light. Amazing! Yet now I have to wee in the dark whilst my light decides if it wants to reach full power or not during the next hour.  No wonder they are energy saving.  A light that doesn’t work is even more energy saving so I imagine that’s what the future holds for us.

Forms of identity.  Why do we need to identify who we are in a world where everyone knows every fucking detail of my life as it is? Plus the post office put a card through my own letterbox and then ask me to prove that I am the person it was intended for.  You gave me the card, you figure it out!

Phones actually being able to make a phone call. First there was mobile phones, now there are smart phones and yet I still constantly find myself somewhere where there is no signal at all. You call someone from a snow covered village and leave a message asking which pub you were going to be meeting in. After four hours of shivering you get a text ‘sorry, only now got your message, we all had a great time. Now in the bath’. Fuck off Vodafone, destroyer of my social life.

Giant remote controls. I use ‘power on/off’, ‘channel up/down’ and ‘volume’.  Yet my remote control has 41 buttons! 41! I’m fairly certain they landed man on the moon with less controls than that. In fact I got so annoyed I have become very retro in actually getting up to turn my TV on and off. 

If we are going to have self service checkouts then make them self-service. That little red light of ‘assistance required’ comes up on every visit I make. If I wanted assistance I would have gone to an assistant. Yes I look over 25, yes that is the right item in my ‘bagging area’ and yes I am only buying condoms, milk and a razor blade but that’s just how I live my life.  Would we accept this inept level of technology in anything else we do? Bring back the milkman I say.

Train tickets. One journey, fifteen tickets. One says ‘only valid with your ticket’, the other says ‘only valid with your receipt’ and then you have other tickets that have no real purpose other than to ensure you don’t know which is your receipt or your ticket. To add to that, in 2015 the way to validate your ticket is still with a hole punch.

So that’s my grumbling over for another morning as my toilet roll lies shredded on the floor.  Surveying the scene I wonder what my psychologist would say to it all? ‘Pull your pants up’ would probably be one suggestion and ‘can we discuss this somewhere else?’ would be another, but ultimately she would probably would just smile and nod her head. Or cry. Yes probably cry.

One final thought. I was reminded whilst writing this that it had been World Mental Health day recently and hurrah for that as we need to promote that mental health issues are not something to be afraid of.

It got me wondering though. Is there a World Alzheimers Day and if there is do they have another one two weeks later when they've forgotten they had it in the first place? 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

101 Ways to Convince Your Psychologist You're Normal: Mid Life Crisis

I am standing alone, surrounded by an assortment of cotton garments with only a young, blonde and trendy girl in her early 20’s for company.

I am a man in the midst of a mini mid-life crisis.

My entire life seems to be fuelled by life’s inevitable ageing process and the desire that we should remain bouncing happy souls leaping from one exciting trampoline to the other. I am 45. I don’t bounce. I more do an over enthusiastic rock star leap that is followed by a bend over, exhale of air and a realisation that both of my legs will no longer leave the ground at the same time.

‘No’ I say to no-one in particular. ‘I will not start moaning about what it’s like to grow old!’  I don’t want to end up becoming one of those people reminiscing about what is was like in the good old days. I’m still young! I must embrace it!

Listed on the Telegraph’s ’Top 40 signs you are having a mid-life crisis’ is such things as still going to festivals, buying an expensive bicycle and starting to dye your hair.

The day I start taking advice from the Telegraph will be the day I am officially in an end-life crisis. Who are these poor fools that make this tosh up. And anyway, I didn’t drive to the shops today in my two seater sports car, I walked! So I win.

Looking around I see a young man with his appropriately aged girlfriend looking at clothes. He starts by picking up various t-shirts that shout ‘crisis’ regardless of your age, luckily he is slowly directed to more suitable choices despite his protestations.

Is this what a mid-life crisis is truly about? Us older folk have either lost the partner in our life to provide some sense to our fashion choices, or have we lost the will to go out with them in the first place?

I look at the younger man and feel pity. ‘I am a man who makes his own choices!’ I roar with the loudness of a kitten with a sore throat. 

As he passes me I can see the makings of a small beard, small clumps of growth in an otherwise barren landscape. I stroke my fulsome yet greying beard and think that the man, or should I say ‘boy’ is going through an early-life crisis by trying to be a man before he is truly ready.

All this pondering has still not lead to a decision and it’s a decision I must make today and one that could alter the course of my life, for I am a man in need of new pants.

The Telegraph does not offer me much assistance on the type of pant suitable for someone of my age but I take a punt and assume Mark’s & Spencer's would be the retail provider of choice. Conservative, middle England, ageing and suitably spacious.

There is something that is striking about M&S when you first go inside and it’s the absence of any notable stairs. Escalators yes, but stairs no. Top Shop seem to just have stairs, and H&M offer an escalator one way but stairs down again. It’s as if we slowly lose the urge to walk anymore for fashion. You know you are in a mid-life crisis if you are walking to get there, otherwise you're on the escalator to comfy, slow death.

I make my way up through the floors feeling unease as I pass every zipped, thick cardigan. I’m soon faced with an array of socks and a variety of briefs and trunks offering ‘comfort’ and a ‘cool and fresh’ range. Old people obviously like their private parts to be just like their eggs, and hopefully not hard boiled.

Who doesn’t want ‘fresh’ anyway? ‘Ooh look some un-fresh pants!’ I imagine the youngsters to say as they return from a festival on their overly expensive bike. Idiots.

My choice of colours seems to consist of various shades of grey and black with the odd purple strip or two thrown in.  There also is a lot of white, which considering the leakage issue of the elderly seems like a risk. 

Over in the corner an elderly couple are looking at the briefs. The gentleman looks in a state of true bewilderment whilst his wife proceeds to say things such as ‘you won’t want a waistband’ and ‘you want to make sure they have some give in them’.  It genuinely looks like the only way to maker her husband smile would be to say ‘I’ve booked you in at the euthanasia clinic.’

It reinforces my belief that I am young. A mid-life crisis just shows that you're not prepared to give up yet. You're still embracing life over death, and whilst you might be closer to it you still aim to die in the arms of an expensive hooker with cocaine plastered over your rock-star leather jacket.

Rah! I am young and I’m going to defy you M&S! I am going to run down your escalator and make my way to the land of youthful wonder that is H&M!

Colour! There before me is tantalising colour! And jersey shorts offering all sorts of patterns. Even David Beckham, a mid-life crisis man if ever there was one, stands proudly in his elasticated waist and button fly.  Ah yes the button fly, made for the young who have time on their hands from the need to urinate to actually urinating in itself.

I select carefully knowing that every woman will judge me the moment my jeans come down and plump for some ‘Evil Knievel’ style blue with white stars and some red and white ‘USA’  flag type jersey shorts. I even get some with little fox’s on as every woman likes a little furry animal in their life.

Readily armed I head back off home proud to have not fallen for the lure of old age just yet. I am full of vitality, vigor and youth. I am a festival going man with a new set of pants.

I get home. I try them on. They are not comfortable. I sigh.