ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

Why rage is all the, er, rage

Mad’ is in the air every­where I look. A litany of re­cent ca­sual anger: travers­ing a pedes­trian cross­ing, with a green light, I was nearly flat­tened by a taxi. I shook my head and tut­ted as the driver braked. ‘Get a life!’ I heard him shout when I’d gone across. I looked around. He had rolled his win­dow down — ‘Get a life,’ he re­peated. The anger shot up through me and I went back. ‘What did you say?’ I spat, gear­ing up for a fight. He re­peated his in­sult. ‘WHAT? You nearly ran into me,’ I bat­ted back, in­dig­nant. Shouldn’t he have been apol­o­gis­ing, not giv­ing me lip? And ‘get a life’ — what stupid lip: the adult equiv­a­lent of a kid say­ing ‘you smell’ to an­other kid, an in­sipid Amer­i­can­ism off the telly. What about a proper Ir­ish-style in­sult?

‘May your morn­ing turn to night, your corn­flakes to clay, may ev­ery­thing bad fall upon you to­day, and then get worse... slurry head!’ At least a bit of na­tive po­etry; that I could eas­ily re­tort to: ‘Oh aye, well, may your taxi turn into a canker­legged ass, as ugly as your face, and may your wallet be ever more empty as the head of an amadán. ‘Get a life’, feck’s sake. What is this — Ire­land, or an episode of iCarly? Ba­si­cally, what I’m say­ing is: I couldn’t think up a re­tort, which made me even mad­der. The lights changed and off he drove with a smug look on his face that said, ‘I win!’ Leav­ing me with heart pump­ing — a rag­ing ee­jit in the fug of his ex­haust fumes.

Then more road rage: my friend Sue told me of the shock she got when, stopped at lights, she heard an ag­gres­sive bang­ing on her car. She thought a mug­ger was try­ing to smash the win­dow. Turned out it was a livid cy­clist in­di­cat­ing that her wheels had strayed into the cy­cle path. ‘He looked like he wanted to punch me,’ she said. ‘I was gen­uinely afraid.’ She drives a peo­ple car­rier full of kid­die car seats that, one, is so big she couldn’t avoid a bit of tyre spill and, two, has ‘par­ent with hands full’ writ­ten all over it, so surely the cy­clist could have cut her some slack? But I’ve been that cy­clist, too, rag­ing at the obliv­i­ous­ness of the aver­age Ir­ish ur­ban mo­torist to bike lanes or when it’s the cy­clist’s right of way or when they’ve just nearly killed you. ‘F***’s sake, are you blind?’ I, too, find my­self shout­ing (em­bar­rass­ing when you catch the driver’s eye and re­alise ‘Oh look, it’s some­one I know. From church.’

Then cof­fee: I was hav­ing an im­por­tant meet­ing in a cool café. We asked for two cof­fees and

The cab­bie drove off with a smug look on his face that said ‘I win!’, leav­ing me rag­ing in the fug of his ex­haust fumes

the barista in­formed us that ‘to­day’s cof­fee is from a small­hold­ing in Gu­atemala, hold­ing a unique flavour of mango and aroma of lo­cal un­der­growth’ or what­ever… ‘Je­sus, it takes him longer to ex­plain the cof­fee than to get it,’ the busy per­son I was with snipped, ir­ri­tated. ‘Ah now, don’t be get­ting an­gry,’ I thought. ‘He’s only be­ing nice.’ Till two rounds of the wrong cof­fees came our way. ‘Two flat whites?’ we were asked. ‘No, two long blacks.’ ‘Cap­puc­cino, espresso?’ we were asked again, sev­eral min­utes later. ‘No, two long blacks.’ ‘Oh, two long blacks?’ Then the server had the temer­ity to apol­o­gise — but con­fide that he was out till 3am the night be­fore, and we ended up har­rumph­ing about ‘ser­vice’ like grumpy fuddy-dud­dies, over our ex­cel­lent even­tual cof­fees.

Then men: I was out with friends and ended up in a pro­tracted chat-up sit­u­a­tion with an in­ter­est­ing Amer­i­can chap. ‘I’m an old man, Anne,’ he said at one point. He claimed to be over 60 but didn’t look a day over, say, 57 to me. I was pro­cess­ing the fact that what for­merly seemed to me rather el­derly is now within my flirt-con­stituency when he hap­pened to put his hand on my body. ‘Oops,’ he said, ‘we need to lose a bit of weight!’ He was no skinny ma­link him­self. Again, I wasn’t quick enough with a quip. Af­ter­wards a friend said that I should have just leaned into him, tweaked a baggy un­der-eye and said, ‘Yeah, but I can lose the weight...’ In­stead, I think I prob­a­bly just said, ‘Yeah, I know. Amn’t I dis­gust­ing?’

Then my lo­cal gym: why do they play that aw­ful loud mu­sic? It’s not a teen disco. And what’s with all the faddy ex­er­cise — peo­ple swing­ing iron balls around, grunt­ing, gawk­ing at them­selves in the mir­ror, show­ing off? Why do I find my­self wish­ing the lump of me­tal would accidentally crash into their knees, and that they end up scream­ing, ‘Argh, I’m crip­pled!’?

Then tracker mort­gages: why didn’t I get one when I could? The ECB rate used to mean good news to me, too; now it just means I’d happily punch my bank man­ager if I met him.

Then the Joe Duffy show: still wait­ing for the day some­one phones in and says, ‘Joe, just call­ing in to say I’ve no com­plaints. Ev­ery­thing’s great!’

And as you can see from the above, re­ally, I have no com­plaints. Res­o­lu­tion: to stop be­ing ca­su­ally an­gry and pro­ject love where’er I go. Re­peat to self: ‘I love other road users; I love all my fel­low hu­mans, even the nump­ties; I love my mortg… I love my mortga…’ It’s go­ing to take a bit of work.

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