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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The adventures of an ordinary man at war with the everyday world.

I have often been associated with a certain comedy television character who portrays everything that is grumpy in life. His name is Victor Meldrew. Personally, I have never been able to draw any comparisons between Vict ......

What's that dear?

Stop lying through my back teeth?

Yes dear.

I suppose on the odd occasion, there have been times when I have complained or moaned about the world in general, perhaps unnecessarily. The thing is, Victor often complained about things that warranted a complaint; this is perhaps why he was such a successful character, grumbling his way through ten years of television.

Although people could relate to his plight, there was something very negative about him and, by association, there is something I find less than pleasing, shall we say, in being compared to him.

Ok, it's funny ........

..... for a while.

The more I think about it however, there is a screen character which I found I sympathised with more than Mr Meldrew.

His name was Bob Foster, a regular American Joe played by Michael Douglas in a film called Falling Down. I could give lots of examples from the film but just to give you an idea, Bob goes into a fast food restaurant at 11:33am and asks for a breakfast. He is told that breakfast stops being served at 11:30 sharp. An argument ensues about the triviality of "policy" and why couldn't he just get served some breakfast? Several rounds of live ammunition into the ceiling makes the manager change his mind about the breakfast cut-off point.

Possibly my favourite scene in the film is when Bob encounters heavy traffic thanks to roadworks (come on, how many of us can relate to that?). He strikes up a conversation with one of the workers who is sat down doing nothing and the bottom line is that the worker admits that the road has been dug up for nothing; there's nothing wrong with the road, just that the state (the equivalent of our local councils), has to justify and spend it's annual funding or it will receive less the following year.

Mr Foster takes matters into his own hands and blows the entire road up with a bazooka; very spectacular!

So what, right?

I too am frustrated and annoyed by the "rules" of society. Don't get me wrong, I know that society needs rules or else you have a Mad Max situation but it's the pettiness, the sneakiness, the unfairness of rules made by those in positions of power and authority and the way in which they exert that power over hardworking, honest people.

It's the way that councils blur the lines (literally) for parking in a permit only bay and a general use bay. An
£80 fine for having a wheel slightly outside the designated zone?

A £50 fine to the parents of a toddler in a buggy, throwing an apple skin onto the street without their parents noticing or stopping to pick it up?

It's the small print that purposely tries to catch you out that's annoying. It's politicians that say "do as I say, not as I do", taking their expenses out of our taxes. It's crooked police officers. It's blundering hospital staff. It's the "mistakes have been made, lessons have been learnt". It's the "not in my job description" crew who get under my skin. Getting cut off after waiting in the 'phone line for 20 minutes. Being spoken to rudely by staff when I am spending money in their shops, in their restaurants, in their offices.

(Crumbs, where am I going with this??)

I am called Victor Meldrew because I refuse to let something go, however trivial.

What has annoyed me this time you ask?

Yesterday we went to the cinema for Bargain Tuesday. It's not as much of a bargain as Saturday morning (at £1 per person!!) but a fiver each is still better than normal.

We get there, we queue, it comes to our turn and an unsmiling individual called Cameron types in 2 children and 1 adult and miserably tells me the price.

"That'll be £20 and 20p".

(No please, no smile by the way)

This, of course, is not the £15 I was expecting.

"What happened to Bargain Tuesday?" I ask. "It says £5 per person behind you?"

"Yeah, it is Bargain Tuesday but this is a 3-D film and you have to buy the glasses".

I mean, are they for real? Must it be the case that everyone has to try to screw every last penny out of the average consumer?

"So tell me, if I had brought along the 3-D glasses from the last film we saw here, I could've bought the tickets for £5?"

"No. The additional cost is factored into your ticket. It's £20.20p".

Karl Marx was right. Capitalism sucks!


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