My father, who like all Dad’s sometimes seemed to be practising for a world’s most boring man competition, used to have a habit when I was a boy of pointing out to us kids some ‘interesting’ facts about local landmarks around where we lived whilst tootling along in his car.
Naturally enough, as I am my fathers son, I have been known to keep up a long and very tedious narrative to anyone unlucky enough to be a passenger of mine. Friends in the past have requested that I let them out of the car rather than having to listen to me pontificate as to the unique features of Palma Cathedral and I have to check myself on a regular basis not to run past Julie a fascinating fact that I may have mentioned to her a couple of hundred times before.
Unhappily, since our return to the island after our recent unexpectedly long sojourn to the UK, I believe that I’m in the running for the title of most boring British ex-pat currently living on the island of Majorca. I’ve been told that all it takes for me to get into droning overdrive is for an acquaintance to ask me “How did your extended UK trip go Frank?” I have been told that I clear my throat in theatrical fashion and then proceed to ‘talk’ my interlocutor through my lockdown experience complete with a list of cancelled flights home and tedious tales of extra money being spent to no avail. Very often I barely get past our first weekend away before a supposed friend fakes a seizure of some kind or suddenly remembers that they left the bath water running before they left home.
Do you think I need help?
Nevertheless, in the spirit of self improvement I have been trying to rein back my desire to share every jot-and-tittle of my two months absence from the island during this continuing unpleasantness with anyone remotely interested. I am told that it is a sure sign of a persons age when he (it’s always a ‘he’ apparently!) becomes somewhat obsessed by certain elements in his life. For instance, it seems that I am verging on the manic when it comes to extracting plastic in any form from our household rubbish before it goes to the green bins at the end of our lane. Come on, any fool can separate plastic water bottles and the masses of plastic wrapping that surround fruit and vegetables nowadays - but tell me, who else seeks out those small bits of plastic that hold together small paper hankies? If a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing well if you ask me. It has also been pointed out to me that I am constantly putting things away, that don’t need to be put away and get shouted at for doing it. I have also started to put my small change in a hard spectacle case that I carry around with me, thus causing me to rattle as I go about my business. I then place this specs case in a designer ‘man bag’ that I have acquired recently that also holds all forms of identification I should need if stopped and searched by a bored local copper. I also have a regularly updated shopping list, a diary, face mask and a spare - a green marker pen, biro, phone and cough sweets. Do you think I need help?
I need a "reset" button
I suspect that like most men, given a certain set of circumstances I will mostly say the exact same thing every single time. Indeed, I have noticed this myself, because when different and differing people appear on the television or radio, I go into an almost pre-ordained commentary on their supposed limitations. From Chris Evans to Donald Trump - Boris Johnson to Zoe Ball, I am told that my supporting narrative barely changes - but here’s the rub, it seems that at the time I am completely unaware that I am being a mind-numbingly tedious, small minded, ocean going bore - or something like that! Wouldn’t it be great if at a certain time in a man’s life he could have access to a ‘reset’ button in our heads? All those lifelong hang-ups and outdated prejudices could be nullified or reconsidered.
The oh-so-obvious knee-jerk reactions to all manner of subjects might be calmly revised and perhaps even modified. Naturally enough, you wouldn’t want to go too mad in this reassessment of what, and what doesn’t trigger the red mist within you; but, it could be quite nice not being quite so relentlessly predictable in everything you think, say and do. It is said that the ultimate confirmation that a person is a tad boring, is the fact that he never ever realises that reality. Every dull story he imparts to nervous friends never has an ending does it? However, I reckon that it is the man who has become locked into his own world who is the real nuisance in this regard. At a certain time in life, I suppose the temptation is to stop listening to new thoughts and ideas and to become over reliant upon what once was - not, what is! Anyway, I will try to come to grips with new social realities and at least try to stop curling-my-lip when certain people challenge certain long held certainties of my own. But, only if I have to!