So what is it that really annoys you? What is it that sends you into a spasm of seethe or a descent into a slough of sulk – apart, that is, from reading a blog commencing with a raft of rhetoric or indeed a collection of smug alliterations.
Well, frankly, I don’t really care what annoys you unless what annoys you starts to annoy me. Then I get seriously annoyed. The trouble is, I find it difficult to get seriously annoyed for any length of time. When I say that, I’m not referring to an innate quality of gentleness, just that I feel that with a little more effort I could maintain my ire for a little longer – say, a month or two.
But delving more deeply into the realm of little irritations, it is the very fact that they are so “little” that reduces me to a state of murderous impotence. Like joggers. Or Rob McElwee. For starters, have you noticed – no, stop! I hate observational comics invariably prefacing their gags with “have you noticed?” Oh how clever you are – and how clever are we to have noticed how clever you are to realize how clever we are to get the joke. A collegiate, indeed, of cleverness.
And talking of “little”, here’s another thing.
There is a group, I might even say a minor clump, of vertically-challenged TV presenters whose appearance on the screen results in a desperate lunge for the remote control. You know who you are, ex-presenter of a pre-summer observational nature bonanza as well as the rodently nicknamed co-host of a lads’ car programme. It’s something about them, or rather their TV persona, which reminds me of the idiots at the back of the class jumping up and down, arm aloft, yelling “me sir”. Yes, that’s it – it’s all about “me,” sir. Rather unkindly, I think of those TV anchor persons as trying to punch above their height.
But lest you think I am a total grouch, let me tell you that I love butterflies, buttercups, butterkist, but I digress…. All I’m doing is merely drawing your attention to the fact that we live in an imperfect world, or rather a world in which we struggle to come terms with its imperfections. Indeed, for all I know, I may be the cause of profound irritation to people I’d scarcely suspect of having anything but the deepest respect for me – like my family.
Clearly, there are some things that irritate me more than – STOP AGAIN: I become markedly agitated by interviewees, usually politicians, who prefix their every answer with “clearly” – as in “clearly this is a problem that the Government is going to tackle” – no it isn’t pal. Placing that word at the front of the sentence implies that not only is what follows obvious to every fool but is, indeed, an undeniable truth. Clearly you are an obfuscating, smooth-talking fibber. That at least I can clearly discern.
May I leave you with a final thought. When you are next tramping across a far-flung and filthily-muddy field and your socks, so carefully put on and squeezed snugly tight into your wellies, start unaccountably to unravel unreachably from your heel, think only this of me:
I told you so.
Phil Gould is 63 and a recovering dentist. He has also been a TV comedy writer. He lives with an African Grey parrot, ten chickens, two children and a wife in West Suffolk and doesn’t want to get out more.