HOLMSEY: Life’s petty irritations…

By IW Observer.co.uk Feb 16, 2022

I hope you enjoyed Richard Quigley’s efforts to entertain you in my absence. He’s good, but I’m back now, and I’m all wound up!

The 1953 film ‘Falling Down’ opens with William Foster – played by Michael Douglas – sitting in his car on a sweltering day, in what appears to be the world’s worst traffic jam. Desperate to get to his daughter’s birthday, it dawns on him that he won’t make it. He abandons the car and sets off on foot in search of a telephone. Realising he doesn’t have any change, he finds a corner shop and asks for some. The shopkeeper says he has to buy something to get change, so he searches for something cheap enough to get a few coins in return. Soon, he’s raging against the store’s extortionate prices and ultimately wrecks the place with a baseball bat! The series of trivial incidents provoke Foster to react with increasing levels of violence.

Every day, life can present petty irritations we usually endure through gritted teeth, but have the potential to send us right over the edge. Just before I left for my Austrian skiing holiday (very nice, thanks), I saw a friend who’d had a breakdown after dealing with a series of mostly work-related stresses that slowly overwhelmed him. Thankfully, he’s now on the mend.

At times, Island life is similarly irksome. For example, where I work, in Fleet town centre, 30 mins parking costs 20 pence, two hours is £1. Newport already resembles a ghost town, but the extortionate parking charges are going up again. The allocated slots for the on-line booking system at the dump hack me off because they’re just too long. In the good old days you could turn up, back up and throw your waste in the bins in just a moment or two. I detest litter and fly-tipping, but if they make it harder to legally dispose of rubbish, some people will act irresponsibly.

Trying to fix a £3 million budget shortfall by imposing a £55 charge for livestreaming crematorium services is beyond the pale too. Making those unable to attend a funeral in person cough up is a very low blow. Surely, they could find that from elsewhere in their mammoth budget. Sell me the crematorium; I’ll scrap the charge and reduce the cost of a cremation by 25 per cent. In short, Covid has provided the perfect excuse for anyone unwilling to work normally and our old enemies, the jobsworths.

Food and energy prices are soaring, so are taxes, while BP and Shell have just announced a combined £24 billion in profits. Regular readers will know I’m always fuming about ferries; last week I discovered P&O’s Dover-Calais operation is as frustrating as ours. My outbound Dover boat sailed early, so we waited two hours for the next one. Returning, the booking form stated, ‘check-in minimum 30 mins before sailing’. We arrived for the 6.25am sailing with 40 mins to spare – they even stamped that on the ticket – before allocating us to the 7.45am boat, chirping ‘check-in is 45 minutes minimum’. Crestfallen, we soon discovered there wasn’t actually a 6.25am ferry at all; the port was deserted, not a ship to be seen, so why not just offer a truthful explanation? We’d been had, and when I realised, it was just as well I was unarmed and several miles from the check-in area. There was even worse news on-board; no cooked breakfast, the only reason we hadn’t used the Channel Tunnel.

Next time, I’m coming back from Calais by dinghy; at least you’d get fed on arrival at Dover!