Whatever next? A member of the rather exclusive Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) was, it seems, unceremoniously thrown out of Lords Cricket Ground for verbally abusing the Australian Captain and batsman, Steve Smith (pictured below) - as he made his way back to his dressing room after being dismissed in an Ashes Test Match last weekend.
So what, you may say; what’s this got to do with anything? Well, it has, and here’s why. Firstly, MCC member don’t do that sort of thing - feral yobs at football matches do - but, not elderly and respectable old duffers in the Long Room at Lords.
This brings me to today's subject of irritability and bad temper in the mature man. For most of my life I’ve been described as ‘laid back’ in a passive sort of way and on occasions, even “calm and collected.”
This front that I would present to the world, is disappearing fast as I get older and less inclined to suffer anyone, or anything that might irritate me. Indeed, as we have been away for a week's holiday in Devon with my sister and her husband, she has been pointing out to me how annoying I have become.
One of the advantages of holidaying with a sibling is that you don’t have to be pleasant if you don’t feel like it - and if a brother or sister is talking rubbish, you just tell them, don’t you? That’s surely the best bit about being in the company of family i.e. you don’t have to dress anything up.
My sister has just had her hair cut very short, in that spikey modern fashion that suits gamine young women with big eyes and high cheekbones. Just because I said that she looked a bit like a lesbian, doesn’t mean to say that I didn’t admire her pluck in wearing her hair that way, now does it?
It’s the same with her - as I got ready to go out for dinner at the local pub the other evening, accidentally making everyone in our party wait a while; was there really any need for her to say - “All that effort - and for what?” Perhaps that’s what is so unexpectedly liberating about being with siblings, they know everything about you and some - plus, they are guaranteed to give you the unexpurgated version of yourself you fear most.
My sister as a recently retired Senior Probation Officer specialising in combating drug addiction amongst her charming clientele - is not, and never has been a woman to hide her opinions from anyone, let alone her brother(s). I love and admire her tremendously, but occasionally would like her to stop treating me as if I were 8 years old.
However, it was she who pointed out to all and sundry that I had become “self-obsessed and grumpy” in my autumn years and hinted that Julie should take me off to a “specialist unit” if I didn’t improve. This was all because of an unfortunate incident at the Northbound M5 Junction at Exeter where I got into an undignified shouting match with one of those motorists who will not queue at a busy junction like everyone else and just barges in - when you’ve been waiting for at least 25 minutes. Mostly though, we both noticed that as we’ve got older our once charming and all too human foibles, now get on each others nerves in a major way. It is often said that your basic personality is mostly set in stone - but, over time and with life’s experiences these traits are magnified - for either good or ill.
Take politics. As I have got older, I have made the traditional and expected path from the left of politics to a comfortable, and some would say complacent - centre, to centre right position on the political spectrum. My sister in turn has not budged an inch from her place on the radical wing of the left of Labour.
However, I am happy to confirm that she also thinks that Jeremy Corbyn is a waste of space, but I dare not ask who she would see in Downing Street as I would be bound to be horrified. If this isn’t bad enough, I can’t say anything vaguely political as I can see her curling her lip dismissively - and once when she caught me reading the Daily Mail she went bonkers - enough, for me to go out the next day and buy - The Sun - Daily Express and Daily Telegraph as well - so as to annoy even more. Mostly though, she seems curious as to why I am so bad tempered on occasions.
I don’t really know - apart that is - because she’s constantly winding me up consciously or unconsciously. To be serious for a moment, I don’t think that we become bad tempered per-se as we get older; it doesn’t work like that. I put it down to a lack of patience, a virtue that is supposed to come with the ageing process but doesn’t. I was much more patient when I was younger, both in work and with my young family I reckon.
Nowadays, I always find myself breathing deeply and counting to 10 about something or other - I’m told it comes with the territory. As for my sister? Well, she told me last week that she quite liked me - but, not as much as our two other brothers. Oh… and she also said I was very much like our late father. But with her, I really didn’t know if this was a compliment or not.