Belfast Telegraph

How sometimes the greatest pleasure is just having a whine

By Gail Walker

Apparently 1000awe somethings.com with its endless list of the everyday pleasures that make life worthwhile, is one of today's most popular website.

If you get past that dreadful Americanism ‘awesome' and log on, you will find the true secrets of happiness.

Like when you nudge someone who is snoring and it makes them stop, or seeing a dog that looks just like a dog you know or — doh! — a cold glass of water on a hot day.

There are hundreds of suggestions and the message is, of course, that the best things in life are free — or, at least the staggeringly banal things are.

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe I'm full of bad cess, but I would be happier if I could find a site called letsbitchandwhine.com.

So, let’s get the ball rolling shall we?

Cyclists. Clad head to spindly toe in lycra, why do they insist on breaking the law and riding two or three abreast, oblivious to the tailback of motorists behind?

Try winding down your window and hollering “Get into single file, you morons” as you finally pass them. But it won’t work. Trust me.

The ‘would you like...' school of retail. Once, you went into a shop, bought the item of your choice and left. Simple and satisfying in its completeness.

But not any more. Now the customer is locked into a loosely scripted dramatic playlet. Would you like a loyalty card? Cheap life insurance? A giant Toblerone?

In a bookshop I watched an intellectual looking man of advanced years buying A History of Western Philosophy, only to be offered the latest Jordan effort because he'd ‘spent over £10' on his forthcoming encounter with Bertie Russell et al.

No, he didn't want to know what Katie did next. But he had to be asked ...

Coffee houses: a few years ago we greeted these like liberating armies, giving dreary Belfast a shot of continental sophistication. But like all liberating armies, they're beginning to get on the locals’ nerves.

Apart from the ‘And anything to eat with that?' schtick (Really, you offer tasty comestibles AS WELL? I never knew ...) every order after lunch is greeted with a pointed flurry of ‘near closing time’ housework — floor-sweeping, detergent spraying, chair scraping.

And, yes, while it's nice to know you wash the crockery, what's with this thing of shoving my scone onto a still moist, warm plate? Yum.

Supermarket Till Demolition Derby. Here, your groceries career past the bleeper at breakneck speed, piling up, crushed and battered, while you’re still trying to peel apart a plastic bag to start packing?

The cashier then demands cash (and a loyalty card). Tip: don’t pay, just continue packing; you will embarrass them into having to help you pack.

As my bile is in danger of running over, here’s a few more namechecks: the Halifax ‘zoo radio' ads; TV programmes that give little reprises every 10 minutes (‘David and Sue's Kensington bistro is about to go to the wall '); that radio ad which begins ‘It's 4.15 in east Belfast and it's time to ...' which always sends me scurrying to work out the time where I am; i-anything (iPhone, iPad, iPod, iDontcare); BBC3 ‘comedy'; the over-use of the word ‘wee’; TV and radio presenters whose idea of ad libbing is saying the word ‘absolutely’ in reply to any question; drivers who push the nose of their cars out from sideroads trying to bully you into letting them out, then giving you the finger when you don’t; those drink responsibly/eat sweets responsibly warnings; people who send you inane texts, then follow up with texts with a single question mark in them because you haven’t responded immediately; the fact there’s no petrol pump attendants any more; bores who insist on talking over something you really want to hear on the radio/TV; people who make simple statements, then ask ‘do you know what I mean?’; aggressive women (it’s always women) who use prams and shopping trolleys as weapons ...

Ah, that's better. Well, better than a glass of cold water or looking at a dog any day of the week.

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