I don’t want to moan but…

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by Patrick O’Connor

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GRUMPY Old Men is the title of a BBC television programme which allows well-known middle aged men to talk about issues of modern life which irritate them.  It subsequently led to a spin-off series, Grumpy Old Women.

Now although I found it quite funny at times, I was prone to occasionally shout at the screen: “Stop whinging. Get a life!” But in the weekend leading up to my 60th birthday I found myself at a loose end. As snow swirled around the house and with nothing interesting on the telly, I digested all the weekend papers with some rigour. Oh dear, big mistake.  By the end of my marathon reading session I had been transformed into a grumpy old man.

What will my wife say?

The list of news items which had steam rushing out of my ears is too long to list here but I just have to mention a few. I mean, what’s the point of having a moan, if you can’t have an audience.  So hold on tight, here goes, in no particular order of merit:

  • Companies are sending staff to experience a plane crash in simulators run by British Airways as a team-building exercise! It costs £130 a head and the report says that BA has taken more than 350 bookings from about 8,500 oil executives, bankers, civil servants and staff at the Football Association. When you consider what sort of effect that lot have had on society recently (football fans especially will know what I mean), it makes you wonder what sort of team are they building!

  • Jonathon Porritt is a well-known green campaigner and has been at the forefront of efforts to save the environment. But his latest pronouncement that couples who have more than two children are being irresponsible is taking things too far. He says that the government must improve family planning, even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion. Right idea, wrong language Jonathon.

  • The woman who gave birth to octuplets in California wants £1.37 million in media interviews and commercial sponsorship to help pay the cost of raising the children. She already has six children. Sorry, Jonathan, maybe you have a point…..

  • Michael Douglas’s character Gordon Gekko exclaimed ‘greed is good’ in the 1987 film Wall Street. They have obviously taken that motto on board at Channel 4, the state-owned broadcaster that is seeking massive public assistance. The company has 19 bosses who each earn more than the prime minister. Chief executive Andy Duncan pulled in a total of £1.2 million in 2007 which included a £450,000 loyalty bonus for having stayed at Channel 4 for the previous four years. The broadcaster has announced 200 job losses in a cost-cutting exercise. Something doesn’t add up, does it?

  • Iceland is to appoint its first female prime minister. Unfortunately my Sunday newspaper, usually one of the more sensible publications, felt compelled to run with the headline ‘Battered Iceland pins it hopes on world’s first lesbian PM.’

  • A man described as favouring flattening Tehran if Iran develops nuclear weapons is the politician gaining the most ground in the forthcoming Israeli general election. Frightening.

  • Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe will have the power to dismiss Prime Minister-to-be Morgan Tsvangirai under the terms of the country’s latest political settlement. Frightening but nobody cares!

  • AC Milan players are touching David Beckham’s bottom for good luck before games. And who said footballers are thick?

  • Police in Manchester are to have a ‘lie amnesty’ for people who lied about being victims of robbery, theft or burglary, to retract their claims. As if we haven’t got enough problems with the real villains.

  • Eighteen year old Ali Moeen Nawazish from Pakistan is in the first year of his computer science at the University of Cambridge after undertaking 23 A Levels in a year, beating the previous world record of 13. Doesn’t that make you sick (especially with my academic record).

  • Hollywood actress Michelle Williams, who was the partner of the late Heath Ledger, has insisted that would-be interviewers sign up to: 1. There will be no conversation about Heath, 2. For headline you are not allowed to use any ‘exclusive first interview with Michelle Williams since Heath’s death or anything that mentions him, 3. Any mention of Heath must be contained to one paragraph only. You may ask, Michelle who?

  • Lehman Brothers chief executive Richard Fuld has transferred ownership of his $14 million Florida mansion to his wife for $100. Now there’s a man who knows how to handle money.

  • And finally, the BBC is to show a drama depicting Margaret Thatcher as a “heroic victim” in the final week of her premiership.  *&*&*&*&*&*&*!