Good Moaning

Sid James

[C]ary Cooper the professor organisational psychology at Lancaster University – no doubt taking time away from encouraging his students to man the barricades in Parliament Square – has concluded that the ‘Brits like to enjoy a good moan’.

According to a survey of 4,000 people, we complain for eight minutes a day. Good Brief! Only eight minutes a day, what a strange world it must be in the organisational psychology faculty at Lancaster University (no I hadn’t heard of that esteemed branch of higher learning either).

In my world I come down to breakfast after my wife has had 30 minutes to read the Daily Mail. Ken Clarke’s idea of inspired genius to allow knife wielding yobs off with a slap on the wrist prompts a rather lively debate before my first mouthful of cereal has reached my lips, I seem to recall. My wife then goes on to inform me that I’m donating £300 to bail out the Irish – apparently we export more ‘stuff’ to Ireland than anywhere else. I can’t afford the stuff, but my money is going to Ireland so they can buy it. Thinking my blood pressure can’t rise any further I head for the door to start a day’s work. “Oh! By the way the coalition are building a new aircraft carrier to replace the Ark Royal they have scrapped, but they haven’t any planes to fly from its deck”, my wife informs my retreating back. I can ignore that comment, she’s just trying to ruin my day, and even Gordon Brown in his most insane moments as Chancellor wouldn’t have done that.

I drive my taxi through the chicanes thoughtfully provided by the utility companies, half a million holes in London’s roads this year and counting. Not a workman to be seen, still mustn’t complain, they don’t in Lancaster.

Arriving at Paddington Station where the police have thoughtfully parked their car near the exit while they have a cuppa causing a half mile tailback, I pick our trade newspaper. What this! “Bicycle Clips” Boris plans to scrap all cabs over 15 years old, I’m informed. Far better to release all those dangerous metals locked into my old cab, than offend Europe with my polluting Euro 3 emissions. Oh Well, that’s knocked a few thousand from my cab’s value, maybe the Irish can have my worthless cab in lieu of the £300.

At last a passenger gets into the cab, completely ignoring my cheery, albeit forced, greeting of good morning.

Bang, the tip up seat crashes into the partition as he removes his dirty feet from it, why didn’t the manufacturers just put in recliner chairs so these slobs could really feel at home?

While driving my way around London’s streets I speculate, will my homecoming be greeted with a letter from a London council informing me of a traffic violation, or is it to be a Red Letter Day, without the need to help fill that council’s coffers, Victor Meldrew had it easy, he should have been a London cabbie.

Some find me curmudgeonly, even accusingly me of being a Luddite (why wouldn’t I want to change my cab every three years). To my passengers and you dear reader I say it’s simply the moaning that helps keep me sane.

The French, they have their Gallic shrug, while our contribution to European culture is a good whinge, it suggests our subliminated anarchic streak, our desire to overthrow the political correctness that’s pervading our lives, and mourning the loss of common sense and courtesy.

Whinging in short is a person’s daily attempt at rebellion, in fact we English excel at it and it should be a source of pride and not shame that we lead the world in this field. And if you are a stoic London taxi driver, you’re really just not trying!

It would seem according to researchers at Bristol University, that since writing this article I have put on weight. According to their findings, distractions such as playing games or checking e-mails, make it harder for us to remember what we have eaten. This absent-mindedness stops us feeling full, and sends us reaching for snacks. It is thought that our memory of what we have eaten plays a key role in dampening appetite – now did I have that fried Mars Bar, or didn’t I?

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