What about our Spanish friends - do they always expect to wait 8 minutes 23 seconds to buy a stamp at their local post-office, or was it just me? | EFE


I wonder when you get older something in a person’s psyche demands that they become pessimistic about almost everything. From just instinctively knowing that your football team will get soundly beaten almost every game it plays (have you noticed Southampton FC’s recent results?) to predicting with utmost accuracy that the road you wish to travel along today will almost certainly be subjected to miles of roadworks undertaken specifically to annoy you. Indeed, this innate pessimism is said to be a central part of being British. Well, all I can say is that it wasn’t always like this was it - or was it?

Indeed, I suspect that like almost everyone I knew when a young chap, I was always surprised by things going wrong - not any more I ain’t! From just knowing that your flight will be delayed when travelling abroad to half-expecting that you will be booked for staying two minutes too long in an up-town parking area, then feeling almost disappointed when you are not nicked by that fascist with the yellow band around his hat. Pessimism as opposed to positivity - is, it seems to me, to be partly (i.e. mostly) driven by age.

I can remember as a younger man my mum and dad phoning to explain that as they were off to aunt Nell’s and uncle Gordon’s place in Bournemouth for a few days, and if they should be involved in an accident or should suddenly die, they had left a list of where they had hidden important stuff in their house in the top drawer (left hand side) of the kitchen cabinet. Yes, really!

Indeed, some would say that pessimism as opposed to positivity, is rather cowardly. Mind you, I don’t think I could stand it for too long - a bouncy optimist always seeing good things in life, when we all know that life’s just not like that, is it? There I go again I suppose, airing my underlying defensive mechanism that is called “negativity” by some, but - “reality” by others. I also wonder, if apart from a person’s age, what other factors make for someone’s basic personality. For instance, why are Americans always so - er, er, positively annoying I wonder? Do they really mean it, or are they just doing it for effect?

What about our Spanish friends - do they always expect to wait 8 minutes 23 seconds to buy a stamp at their local post-office, or was it just me? I read somewhere the other day that pessimism can also be linked to self-deprecation, as in that time honoured need to play-down any personal achievement no matter how minor.

Some cynics may say however that self-deprecation is a long-standing British ploy (nay, English ploy!) to actually give themselves a subtle pat on the back, but crucially - without being too crass to do it up-front as our American cousins would certainly do. Nevertheless, this navel-gazing of mine on this very subject, does affect all parts of a person’s life.

Take for instance the fact that when I complete this world-weary missive for you - I will be driving off to play a game of tennis with a few mates. At the moment the weather outside is dry and pleasant - but I have a feeling deep in my bones that this undoubted fact is just a precursor to a storm-tossed afternoon of flailing rackets and soaking wet kit. I’ll probably catch my death. See what I mean?