Saturday 22 October 2016

Roadhogs, magpies, barking dogs - an acute attack of the little things

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

'The magpie who has ruined my life must have had chicks because now there are several magpies squawking down the acoustic tunnel that is our chimney' Photo: Depositphotos
'The magpie who has ruined my life must have had chicks because now there are several magpies squawking down the acoustic tunnel that is our chimney' Photo: Depositphotos

Small things are beginning to bother me. I know small things are not worth getting bothered about, but I can't help it - and I'm paying the price. On comes a young lad with spots, driving a car older than himself, with his little spikey head barely sticking up over the dash and his cracked speedlust eyes seeing only chicanes and pit stops.

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He revs up and destroys half a hectare of the ozone layer. I brake and flash the lights. He gives me the two fingers.

I turn the car around and decide to pursue the cheeky boy, who is probably named Spike because of his mangy hedgehog head.

Then the voice of reason intervenes and asks me what am I going to do with him when I catch him. The answer is I don't know - so I go take my beating and drive home.

What about the woman who walked across the road without even so much as casting a glance in my direction? What if I lost concentration and didn't spot her? It's driving me nuts all the bad crossing techniques, such as diagonal walking.

Didn't we all learn at school the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? So why spend so much more time on the road than is necessary and risk getting yourself killed?

So I beep her. She's only half as bold as Spike and gives me just the one finger.

And then no one lets me out. I was trying to change lanes, but not one person would let me in. It's as if I was trying to claim squatter's title. The faces of the lane-holders are as aggressive as North Korean border guards. I beep. More fingers.

Only about one in 10 know the rules on roundabouts. There I'd be, driving away legally, when out comes a bolter with no idea at all of the basic rule that you must give way to traffic from the right.

All this aggravation in just one small journey.

Small things do upset us. Someone has changed my dial tone to a mad barking dog and, being the backward person that I am, I don't know how to change it back to the factory-set tune that drives me mad as well.

So there I am, jumping up thinking I'm about to be savaged by a pit bull every time the phone rings.

And the phone does ring and I answer. It's a woman giving out about a column I wrote about sex. Again.

She says: "You have sex on the brain."

So I say: "Well, missus, so have 99.9873pc of all men."

She gets nasty and uses horrible language, saying her husband doesn't have sex on the brain and I should apologise to him.

Did I mention I never met this lady ever in my entire life?

I was trying to remember the sex column and exactly what it was that I said that brought on the attack from the cross woman whose husband I insulted.

It's been ages since I wrote about sex, but with the internet there's a future in the past.

Men do have sex on the brain. It's true. But just a few minutes after the incident with the speeding boy with the head of a yard brush, I take my beating yet again.

"Sorry, Missus," I say, "but you have the wrong person. My name is Father Murphy."

I cut her off with a decisive finger on the button with the red phone. I feel manly again - and swear vengeance on whoever it was that gave her my number.

She rings back about seven more times. The barking is as bad as if I'm in death row in the dog pound on the day they bring in the executioner.

There's no peace at home either from small things.

The magpie who has ruined my life must have had chicks because now there are several magpies squawking down the acoustic tunnel that is our chimney.

The lady whose husband doesn't have sex on the brain calls again. Noah must have gone mad well before the end of the rainy season.

I go to my real job in the pub. Our pub is the opposite to bars all over the world, in that I tell my troubles to the customers, rather than the other way around. The only customer tells me of a small thing that turned big as quickly as a cheap chicken. He asked the ladies of the house if they would like chips and they all said "no", probably because they were on the caveman diet.

The customer returns home with the chips and the ladies of the house say: "I shouldn't. I'll take just one."

And they pick one of the nice, small crunchy crispy ones. They take another and then another and soon all the chips are eaten. He says, in a miffed tone: "What did ye go eatin' all my chips for? When I asked ye if ye would like a bag of your own and ye said no?"

The women say: "What were they anyway? Only a few old chips." And they remind him of all the food they cooked over the years and refuse to talk to him for the rest of the evening.

I empathise and tell about the time I dozed on the chair after working all day and all night. This person wakes me up and says: "I was just checking to see if you were asleep."

The rest of the columnists work in safe places. I work behind a bar and so have no means of escape when a customer orders a drink.

It's the frontline. You never know who will walk in the door to you.

The woman whose husband I insulted marches in with an "I'll give him what's what" head on her.

She's big and strong.

I know then that I should have taken my mother's advice, which was "take plenty of no notice". But it's too late. The what's what comes thick and fast.

"You hung up on me," she accuses.

I lie to her, for the second time. "No, I did not. I don't even own a phone."

She dials. The woman whose husband I insulted says: "There's a dog barking in your pocket."

Irish Independent

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