The joy of a good grum­ble

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment - Cari Rosen

EV­ERY TIME I visit a book­shop or have a quick browse on Ama­zon it seems to me ever clearer that the world has gone self-help mad. In­deed, should I be so in­clined, there are sev­eral thou­sand routes I can, ap­par­ently, take to dis­cover hap­pi­ness, bliss and good cheer. But while con­tent­ment may in­deed be laud­able, nay de­sir­able, what fun is life with­out a grouse or two to keep us go­ing? Let us face facts: the art of com­plaint is in our genes. And while a good kvell may be one thing, there’s surely noth­ing bet­ter than a de­cent kvetch?

So with this in mind, I am de­lighted to launch the Grumpi­ness Project…an at­tempt to live agree­ably for one year while still man­ag­ing to find at least one thing to have a good old cathar­tic com­plain about on a daily ba­sis. Here­with the re­sults of week one: Sun­day. Drive to out­ly­ing shop­ping cen­tre in yet an­other at­tempt to try to find the one gift my daugh­ter has been dream­ing of for her fourth birth­day (a cold com­press, since you ask).

While I would nor­mally be de­lighted to ac­cede to such a mod­est re­quest in this age of ma­te­ri­al­ism, I have now been to 37 shops with­out suc­cess. Three hours and 17 em­po­ria later I have still not come up with any­thing closer than a plas­ter. I have also for­got­ten where I parked my car and it takes 90 min­utes of car park comb­ing to find it. I think this counts as a fly­ing start.

Mon­day. Late birth­day treat of a pedi­cure. By way of con­ver­sa­tion I men­tion that my feet feel very dry. “That’s what hap­pens dur­ing menopause,” con­soles the ther­a­pist. I don’t stop cry­ing un­til…

Tues­day. When I am wo­ken at one, three and half past four in the morn­ing by a child who has, ap­par­ently, got a lob­ster, an ant hill and a wolf in her bed. I’m ut­terly ex­hausted. On the plus side this does give me a new high rank­ing in the of­fice who-had-the­least-sleep rank­ings. But still de­cent gripe ma­te­rial.

Wed­nes­day: I dis­cover that it is a grave er­ror to wear an an­cient tank­ini for aqua class. Bro­ken un­der­wiring al­most causes a fa­tal stab­bing 10 min­utes in. Elas­tic gives way at the end. Now I’m in pain and a fig­ure of fun to boot.

Thurs­day. Have seat on packed tube. Ob­vi­ously this is a good thing — though the fact that this places my nose level with the flat­u­lent be­hind of the man stand­ing in front of me is not. He has clearly been at the sprouts. Def­i­nitely worth dou­ble points.

Fri­day. Three hours til Pe­sach be­gins and mid­way through cin­na­mon ball pro­duc­tion brings the dis­cov­ery that all the ground al­monds I’ve just bought from a ma­jor kosher su­per­store are out of date. Nice work.

Satur­day. A day of rest in the­ory — although not so much rest when ev­ery bird in the north­ern hemi­sphere de­cides to unite in a dawn cho­rus out­side your win­dow at four o’ clock in the morn­ing.

All in I’d say that’s so far so good. Now just an­other 358 days to go…

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