Two Step PogromThis sounds like about Step 4 in an American style self-help program that no doubt actually exists. It's the one they send people on when they find themselves wanting to memorise the "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (lets face it, when that happens, you're in need of some sort of counselling) - "Learn Gradual Anger."
This is what I have finally decided I need to do in response to a world in which you pay good money for a novel only to find that the page following 218, just when things are getting interesting, is 91 (thanks Faber and Faber, standards have obviously slipped a little since old Tom was in charge). Add to that delivery men who don't, well, deliver. Car mechanics who...(no need to explain that one). Picture framers who can't frame pictures. Nggghhhh! Ngggghhhh! AAAAArgh! And see? Here I am, already at Stage 2 of my extremly limited getting angry process. Stage one is obsequious, cringing, "no that's quite alright", "not at all, yes I'm sure it will still work just as well without that bit you've just broken off, yes it probably was my fault for using it." And from there, without any intervening petulence, or tetchiness, let alone any actually productive sternness, it's an effortless step to "I will carpet bomb your house and the houses of all your family and friends and the houses of any other people who you vaguely know or even nod good morning to while you're standing at the bus stop." What's particular futile about Stage 2 anger is that the only external signs, visible to the recalcitrant tradesman are a slightly purple tinge to my complexion and an inability to take notice of the "Push" and "Pull" signs on doors as I flee from the premises.
I suppose I shouldn't grumble. I suppose I'm lucky just to be alive. Lucky to be healthy. Lucky to always have enough food. Lucky to be worrying about having too much food. Lucky to be safe from persecution and torture (notwithstanding my Nazi neighbours). Lucky to have work. Lucky to have friends. Lucky to have a lover. Yes, I am. And in comparison with all this astounding luck, I suppose my grumbles pale into insignificance. Even so, although I didn't pay that much attention during four years of a philosophy degree, I did manage to grasp the idea that this happiness lark is, well, complicated.
Even though nobody is going to wake me up at three in the morning and try to crocodile clip my nipples to a car battery. I still feel the fundamental human need to complain. And anyway, I wouldn't put crocodile clips past the residents' committee. It would all depend on how much fun they suspected me of having (see: happiness, complicated stuff, me being happy makes other people vengeful and miserable - "I wasn't actually disturbed by the music, it isn't actually that loud, but I heard LAUGHTER") or whether I'd yet again used the WRONG DUSTBIN! I am a criminal the like of which they've never seen before, God knows what they'll do when they catch me pissing in their fish pond. Maybe I'd find out that there's such a thing as Stage 3 anger.