Anger, management?

And so, I found myself driving to Huntingdon. Which, all things considered, was in completely the wrong direction. To cap it all, there appeared to be no slip roads on the opposite side, the carriageway which carried its cargo in the direction I wished to go. So on I trundled, anger doing more than bubbling to the surface in search of a fault line through which it can burst, a vent through which … until, fairly screaming at the injustice of it all, I swung left, negotiated some country roadage, and found myself travelling (mostly) South. I settled down for a long sunday drive. I made it home without further incident. Kinda.
The manic bid for freedom had been occasioned by a new problem, one which seems to have surfaced recently, one which seems to affect my mood. It appears that I am gradually developing a seriously mardy streak, either that or I’ve caught misanthropy.
Ok. Maybe not caught misanthropy. Maybe some valve somewhere in my head has broken, the usually one-way valve (which for me, to be fair, has been leaking a while) which allows the unfettered idiocy and irritation in and yet prevents the egress of the bile thus provoked. It feels almost like a personality change, though in truth it’s merely a polarising filter. Anger no longer bubbles so much as rockets to the surface.
At breakfast the previous night’s interrogation continued in earnest, though missing some of the fatuousness. It’s impossible to write an example without it turning into Top Girls, but imagine yourself on the rack, Torquemada drip-feeding questions at you but talking about another question with his brother while you’re trying to answer, and finding the next set of questions are based not on what you said but on what his brother said. The rack advances one click, and your shoulders leave their sockets behind. This advanced to such an extent – and we’re back at breakfast now – that the urge to slam my fists down on the table became so great that I eventually told them to shut the fuck up and listen if they insisted on asking interminable questions. Not long after concluded lunch was too dangerous a sport.
There were warning signs the previous evening.
It was one of those familial occasions when you just know you’re going to get buttonholed. A gathering of the clan and some associates which was, mostly, an enjoyable and gastronomic delight of an evening (I mean, squirrel and hazelnut suet pudding, anyone?), but through the veil of bonhomie there seeped those well-meaning urges to positivity that I find particularly galling, especially when having a slightly off day. And an off day was I having.
The first indication was my nephew offering to button up my shirt as we prepared to pootle off to the pre-prandial drinks. I was struggling a little it’s true. The speed with which he offered sort of suggested he is now expecting such stuff. Cufflinks are always a bitch and my boots would trouble anyone. But it flashed me forward to that time when I’ll not be able to dress unaided, let alone attempt cufflinks and boots. That did not help my mood.
The main point was the meal. Everyone who sat opposite me (we were on a three-line whip for chair rotation) quizzed me as you might expect. Well, I say everyone. I was stupid enough to pick duck breast for my main. I do like a good duck, and a bit of breast at that, and it was suitably pink and rather delicious, but there is one problem with it … slicing it can be a little like sawing through a piece of wood one is having to hold down with your little finger on a freshly-greased workbench.
I have recently either broken my index finger on my left hand, or am developing some sort of arthritic complaint with said digit. Add this to the usual left-hand grip nonsense provided by the parky’s and it’s bloody hard to slice up a nice duck breast. So even my fucking dinner was gently laughing at me. Add to this the delights of a gentle haranguing on how I ought to be all positive-thinking and so on, and the frustration builds. Gently. But firmly.
I found myself, struggling with the duck, thinking very seriously about stabbing it hard enough to snap the knife.
I know, however, that this is the sort of action is frowned upon in polite society.
So I didn’t.
Which meant the frustration was turned inwards.
To cap it all, they were playing Blackadder goes forth in the toilets.
It was a strange evening.
A very fucking strange evening.
I can’t explain how the frustration turns to anger turns to rage, how the purity of emotion blocks out everything.
I can, however, say that I scared me. Just a little.

6 thoughts on “Anger, management?

  1. You will probably get angry with me for saying this, but anger is usually masking another emotion, and the two emotions that tend to be at the centre if you peel away all the layers are grief and fear. Maybe if you dive into whatever is hiding beneath the anger and feel that, the anger will dissipate. It won’t swallow you up or kill you, I promise, I’ve swam there many times and not only have I lived to tell the tale, it’s made me stronger.

    PS Sorry about any misplaced punctuation, hope that doesn’t irritate you…

    PPS I would offer hugs but that would annoy you xx

  2. PD strips us of patience and makes us intolerant, don’t confuse this with anger. Don’t see you as an angry person ( you didn’t punch a wall ), see you as fed up of this tiresome condition, worn down by its relentlessness and its way of creeping into the mundane. It can’t even be a fancy illness, oh no, it has to dive in and affect the way you eat an egg. It’s annoying as shite and now its making dullness even duller. How dare it eh. Your not changing into some unrecognizable beast, remember you could just be grumpy and middle aged. Join the club! People are annoying, but then so are we. C

  3. Ah, well, there and there we must disagree … though only partly. The anger is as it is, pure rage, but it is rage born of frustration, grief, and maybe a little fear stirred in for good measure. This I know.
    I left because I would have punched something, smashed something; given vent to it. It would have taken over.
    And yes, I’m damn annoying (but I’ve been grumpy for years). The point is I oughtn’t be annoyed at these times.

    • oughtn’t shorten’t cortn’t – go easy on yourself. Surely would be weird and unfeeling not to experience this raging fury on occasion… I recommend dancing with a few architects…helps me 😉

  4. Hi Pete

    Sorry to hear this, but it sounds as if your better angels prevailed on the end.

    If you fancy a change of scene you would be welcome to visit us in Bratislava. We could fix you up with a talk about your book at a university.

    Let me know.


  5. Pete, we have discussed the “anger” on a number of occasions.

    I can so relate to the anger side of things, being a lower left leg amputee for nearly three years now, as I’ve had complications, as well you know.

    Also, being a caregiver to my 87 year old grandma who, as you’re aware, has moderately-severe, bordering on severe, at times, Alzheimer’s Disease, saps all the energy I have to offer. She’s getting to the stage where she needs me “with her”, nigh on all the time.

    Recently, she had repeated the same question, “Is there anything in the washing machine?” so many times, that I smashed my fist so hard on the kitchen table, I ended up damaging the clasp on my beloved Rolex Sumariner Date, as I was in the process of doing up the clasp at the time. I was so upset.

    A week and £1.150 later, I had a new strap. Lesson learnt, I think not!!!

    With me, it’s the frustration of not being able to walk properly, due to the said complications, looking after grandma, who is slowly but surely losing everything that makes her, her, which breaks my heart, years of sleepless nights, as I was my grandfather’s caregiver, when I was able-bod’ied and relatives who couldn’t care less………..

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