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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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It seems I’m ill as I’m no longer angry with Maggie

This would have been a good week for anyone considering a career change or entrepreneurial launch into anger management services.

Dear oh dear, what a lot of cross people there are just now. Some are even angry with me for not managing to get angry. They’re worried there must be something wrong... wondering whether I might need to see my GP.

“Sorry to bother you, doctor...”

Like teachers and young men who struggle to speak English at the end of customer helplines, doctors don’t much care for being bothered, if the bothering can possibly be avoided.

“But I think I might be sickening for something. My friends tell me I’m not nearly cross enough.

“I suspect I may have a disorder – like the one that makes women Hoover too often and line up their beans cans geometrically in the cupboard.”

There’s sure to be a tablet for this kind of thing. Maybe a tonic guaranteeing overnight elevation to bitter spitefulness would help.

Perhaps a blood pressure raising pill. Or an antibiotic – there’s one of those for everything these days.

I have Margaret Thatcher to thank for this troubling ailment. Loads of folks, some of them quite close friends, are really, really cross about her – and therefore with me. Apparently I’m not rising on cue to their expectations of rage.

“You must have an opinion.”

“I do. It just isn’t an angry one.”

“Why not?”

“She was an old, unhappy lady who died. That’s sad.”

“God, you’re infuriating!”

So, I need help.

The more I fail to feel anger, the more others are driven to risk severe temper-induced vascular rupture. It’s not good... not being cross.

In the place where I used to live – before finding the escape tunnel that led to Cumbria – they held street parties on the day Maggie Thatcher died.

I still struggle with referring to her as Baroness or Lady. She was Mrs T or Maggie when she was turning my then local life upside down and inside out, during all those turbulent years that seemed to go on for ever.

Monday’s celebratory parties were well-attended, by all accounts. And not in a generous way.

“True. Very noisy. My daughter went to one with her friends,” my chum reported.

“Really? Were they born when Maggie was PM?”

“Well no. Not exactly. But they’re still angry.”

“Don’t you think these boozy dos are in poor taste?”

“Of course not – they’re happening all over the place!”

See? Even girls who know nothing, experienced none of it; probably couldn’t spell Thatcherism, let alone understand its meaning – even they’re cross.

There’s definitely something up with me.

I used to work for a man who told me never to bear a grudge – for longer than 25 years.

It always seemed to me like a lot of wasted hard labour and a pointlessly self destructive way to deal with argument.

Grudges are heavy things. They weigh you down, make you stoop and scowl. They give you wrinkles.

But how on earth do all those years even begin to count if you weren’t even around to see the best and worst of them? A lot of wrinkles for no good purpose, I’d say.

Those of us who lived them all; who remember the proud grown men who cried, the strike police with their helmets and shields, the riots, the losses and yes the gains too – we earned our worry lines.

I guess we also earned the right to make our own choices about futile, retrospective anger.

Selective memory opens up its own dangerous black holes inhabited by monsters which will eat up sanity if we let them. I’d rather not let them.

Maybe it’s an outdated notion but vengeful, celebratory anger over the death of an old lady who, in her heyday, tried to make a difference and failed to please everyone seems to me to be wrong.

Not least because don’t we all try to make a difference? Don’t we all fail to please everyone?

And wouldn’t we all dread the passing of someone we loved to be met with well rehearsed outpourings of hatred?

On second thoughts, maybe I won’t be bothering my doctor. That should at least please him.

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