A little plea from the heart just just ‘to keep it down a little bit’

Country Living with Francis Farragher

If you look up the definition of the word curmudgeon in the Collins dictionary [alas now on the desktop rather the old mass of crumpled pages] it defines such an individual as a ‘surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered person; or cantankerous fellow’.

It’s a word that I always associate with the late Hugh Leonard and his weekly column in the Sunday Independent where he bitched about or ranted involuntarily but very entertainingly, on all aspects of life and individuals too [especially critics] that he didn’t have any particular grá for.

There was also a quite entertaining BBC TV series entitled ‘Grumpy Old Men’ but on looking up the trailer for that programme, it was rather disconcerting to discover that their definition of such people [older] were those in the 35 to 54-year-old age bracket. I kind of thoughts to myself: even too old to be a grumpy old man.

As we get older and get to like more and more of our home comforts there can be a kind of contrary humour about little things that tend to annoy you more as you vainly try and banish all thoughts of your inherent finitude.

So, like any self-respecting curmudgeon, I’ve taken to compiling little lists of things that begin to annoy me more and more when I sit down on the armchair and wonder whether it’s the timber frame of the sitting apparatus – or my bones –that’s creaking.

One of ‘the big ones’ though is noise and more often than not those sounds that you don’t really need to – or want to – hear. I remember some years back a work colleague who had the habit of listening to his transistor radio a few yards from my work slot, and needless to say, there were no headphones involved.

The noises or voices were indecipherable, but needless to say that crackle was still being picked up by the ageing eardrums: no words could be made out; no tune could be recognised; but the sounds just grated away at the nerves until I eventually picked up the courage to say: “Where is that strange, annoying noise coming from?”

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