HAVE you noticed how cross people are these days?
I don’t mean punch-you-in-the-chops cross – that’s just what happens in town centres on Saturday nights thanks to low-grade booze and high-grade testosterone.
No, it’s more a widespread, festering fury among the general populace. A quiet rage among the usually placid.
It’s mostly kept on the down-low, like a pan of stew on a low heat, but at certain points you will notice it boiling over, manifesting itself suddenly in supermarket queues, car parks and cafes where there aren’t quite enough chairs.
There’s no violence involved. Nobody has their teeth knocked out or a machete waved in their direction but there is a lot of tutting, eye rolling, huffing and muttering.
Occasional clipped words, regular in-your-face rudeness. Sometimes even some shouting.
And frankly that’s no less unpleasant.
I don’t know quite what’s gone wrong because this isn’t who we are. We’re a nation of bus-stop conversationalists, pass-the-time-of-day smilers who hold doors open for others and make brews for the bloke cleaning the windows. Or at least we were.
Somehow here in 2019 we’re all a lot less kinder than we used to be.
This week alone I got an earful about press standards from a middle-aged bloke in a trilby when I mentioned I worked for the local newspaper, an unsavoury hand gesture from a woman in a Citroen Berlingo and outright trolley wars when I parked mine in front of the pate selection in Tesco. I have the bruise to prove it.
Perhaps it’s the uncertain times in which we live. Let’s face it, stockpiling tins of beans while watching the raging bin fire that is the Westminster political landscape is enough to make anyone grumpy.
Life in general is pressured, too. Time is short. Demands are long. Sometimes it’s hard to be cheery when there’s nothing in the fridge and the kids are playing up and you’ve just finished a 12-hour shift.
But here’s the thing. It only takes a teeny, tiny effort to make it significantly better.
And I have a plan.
Random Acts of Kindness Day is now a thing and it’s happening soon. Usually, I roll my eyes at these made up “days” – whoever invented National Multiple Personality Day needs to have a word with any one of themselves – but this day might just be what we need.
Think about it. One act of random kindness each in one 24-hour period.
Compliment the first three people you talk to – even if one if your boss or the bad-tempered bus driver. Let someone into the traffic queue despite it being rush-hour and every fibre of your being is screaming: “No! This is MY space!”.
Bake treats. Pay for someone else’s parking. Take the neighbour’s bins out.
You get the drift.
I’m not advocating a return to the Britain of 1954. Who needs rationing, smog and the Cold War?
But wouldn’t it be nice if, for just one day, all the fury died down?
IF THERE’S a teenager in your possession you will be familiar with many things.
Having no food in the fridge or towels in the cupboard for a start. Finding your keys or your mascara missing – not to mention a chunk of your money – is a regular occurrence too.
And then there’s trying to get the little beggars out of bed when apparently superglued to the mattress.
Now a petition calling for the school day to start later in order to help “tired” teenagers is gathering pace, the idea being that a 9am kick-off is out of sync with kids’ natural body clocks.
I can see the merit in this but here’s the snag: the rest of society needs to run on the same rhythm to make it work.
Good luck to all of us in persuading the boss that rolling into work at 10am is about increased productivity rather than a nice lie-in.
I SEE the BBC is to revive the kid’s show Crackerjack 35 years after it last aired. “It promises to usher in a new era of frenetic family fun and whizzbang audience antics,” commented a breathless BBC chief.
Hmmm. That’s as maybe but will there still be Crackerjack pencils for prizes?