I’m angry about a lot of things at the moment. Every day we are faced with more things that make us sad, bewildered, and angry. I cannot believe the scenes I am seeing in America, I can’t believe how lightly young people (and politicians?) in the UK seem to be taking the Lockdown. How have we got the highest death rate in Europe?! I am also sick and tired of seeing people in positions of power abuse their roles for selfish reasons.
Germain Greer once wrote it was ‘time to get angry again‘ and she was right. She was reminding us that women were still struggling, powerless and abused all over the world. But there is so much else to be angry about. The damage we do to our planet, the appalling treatment of minorities, the double standards where important jobs are underpaid, when footballers earn millions.
‘Go ask Ronaldo how to cure Covid-19,’ I watched a medical specialist say, ‘you pay him over a hundred times what you paid me.’
As humans we have to get angry when faced with injustice, or poverty, or abuse. Anger can be clean and powerful, and an agent for change. But what I keep seeing on the news is something that is destructive, and divisive, and it breaks my heart.
I don’t know what the solution is; I’ve lived long enough to see terrible injustice, but it never seems to change. How long do we have to wait until we no longer need to be angry?
Impotent fury is the worst. It is terrible watching the news and seeing things are so wrong and not being able to do anything about it. But you can. Use your vote, people. Or stand to be elected yourself. Do something.
As a middle-aged woman I have been angry plenty of times. Not just at great big social issues, but the dishwasher not being emptied. I could power a country if they could harness the energy created by my rage. I have written about it far too often, I now realise.
So I can’t solve the problems of the world, but hopefully we can look together at the funny side of anger. The times when you know you are being stupid but the rage still bubbles. I connected with a great group of friends on what made out blood boil. Here are some of the stories.
Stephen Fry once wrote a piece called ‘Sock Fury‘ in which he described the incandescent fury engendered by losing one of his favourite socks. At the time of reading it I was young, single and childless and I found it very funny. Now, married, aged, and with teenagers, I am haunted by his words.
I’m sure I never used to get this angry. Where does all this rage come from? What particularly worries me is what worried Fry; it’s not just things like injustice, or world poverty or political dirty dealing that make me cross, it’s trivial things like not being able to find my phone in my bag when I know it’s in there – I can hear the damn thing ringing. Whenever my mother-in-law comes to stay she turns the kettle and toaster off at the wall. Yes I know it’s sensible and ensures we won’t all burn in our beds, but it drives me absolutely mad when, after waiting for ten minutes, I find the water un-boiled and the bread still bread.
This is the group of incidents I class as the yes-I-KNOW! type of triggers. It also includes how cross I get when the children were young, and laden with shopping and dying for the loo, I discovered that my husband has locked the Yale lock, which means I had to put everything down, wedge my toddler against the wall and tuck my baby under my arm so that I have both hands free to open the bloody door. He thinks I’m being stupid and of course he’s right, security is very important – it’s just that him saying that makes me crosser than ever.
Of course the most annoying situations are the ones when deep down you know it’s actually your fault. Rage that your trousers won’t do up? Shouldn’t have had that third bag of crisps should you? Furious that you can’t find your keys? Well, maybe if you were a bit more organised and put them in the same place you wouldn’t lose them. God how I hate that little smug voice at the back of my head (occasionally sounding a little like my husband) that adds a dash of guilt to irritation which leads to impotent rage – the worst kind.
So, what else makes me angry? Well at the moment the new Facebook layout is annoying as it confuses me. I had to revert to the old layout in order to update my status which took for ever. Now the real reason I’m angry is because deep down I know I shouldn’t be fossiking about on the Internet, I should be making scones, or clearing out the kitchen cupboard which is sticky with spilt syrup. I suspect my husband also knows it’s there, but is hoping he’ll get away with pretending he hasn’t seen it so I have to clear it up. I also know, sadly, that I’m really far too old for Facebook – and that makes me cross too. Oh, and sneezing loads of times and not being able to find a single scrap of tissue paper.
Other irritating things aren’t so much my fault. In the old days when parking your car, people would sometimes give you their ticket as they had a few hours left on them. I used to do it. It gave you a warm feeling in your heart and made everyone feel a little more human. Now all machines make you enter your licence plate number so that you can’t do that any more and you end up paying for a space that may already have been paid for – how mean!
I hate how easyJet’s policy of first come first served to get seated means everyone turns into snarling animals – glaring at others to get out of the way so they can get to the seat first. It makes me so cross when we have yet another rubbish summer – but to whom do I complain?
My husband will confirm how furious I get with mascara adverts. Whenever they come on I yell at the screen. For years I thought my eyelashes were rubbish – nothing like the adverts, no matter what mascara I used. Now I see that not only do they have false eyelashes on (lash inserts used) they also enhance them post-production!! OK, maybe I was a little naive but it infuriates me nonetheless.
A brief survey of friends threw up similar findings. In a matter of hours after posing the question of what drives you mad on Facebook I was inundated with replies including: trying to get bracelets off with one hand… alone; friends pinching food from your plate; people walking too close and too quickly behind you; friends misreading your jokes and getting offended; people who phone you with a weak signal and then shout at you because they can’t hear you; litterbugs; traffic lights; being patronised by your partner when you’re cross in a traffic jam; traffic lights generally; things falling wilfully on the floor because you’ve not balanced them properly and stubbing toes and fingers were all on the list of things that made us see red.
For me, I think a major cause of my anger is having children late. I heard recently that the angriest people in the country were those with small children. I reckon that’s about right. I am An Older Mother – which makes it even worse. This means that I have got used to a selfish lifestyle in which all my desires were (mostly) gratified immediately. Those times when, simultaneously, I’m on the phone to my mother trying to solve her latest IT related emergency; the baby is yelling to be fed; my toddler needs to do a poo and the pasta’s boiling over; I could stand there in the kitchen and just scream. All I want to do is sit on the sofa (alone!) with a good book, cup of tea and a biscuit. I want to be able to go to the loo on my own. I look back longingly on the days when I could sit quietly without a toddler jumping on my head. Now the thing is, having suffered a full term stillbirth and two miscarriages I, more than many, appreciate what a blessing my two beautiful children are, and most of the time I do. It’s just sometimes, and I hate to admit this so I’ll say it quietly: they can be a little bit too much to handle.
The funny thing is when I talk about this with friends we end up hysterical with laughter. We agree how ridiculous (and harmful) it is to get so angry and we resolve to not take ourselves so seriously in future.
So next time something is driving you up the wall and you feel yourself boiling over, take a look at your cross, self-important little face in the mirror… and laugh. I guarantee you’ll look ten years younger and feel ten times better.