Maybe it's cabin fever but one thing I've been reflecting on of late are things that have got on my nerves over the years. (Politics aside that is. Though it pains me to do it, I generally try to keep this blog politics-free since it is probably dull enough as it is and my Facebook feed is full of it anyway).
All of a sudden my house has become like sensory deprivation tank, free from outside noise and interference. There are no kids playing ball in the street, or playing 'Knock Down Ginger' (knocking on my door and running away in case that term is one not used in your part of the world). There are no longer motorcycles roaring past my door. The smoker coughing up his morning lung-butter no longer passes my house on his way to work. Things are quiet. It's bliss. That got me thinking about the things that used to bug me.
Breaking down the things that grind my gears into animal, vegetable or mineral, I can quickly see that plants don't really annoy me very much. Having said that, as a child I used to hate getting foxtails stuck in my socks. Even when picked out and discarded they still seemed to itch until a change of footwear sorted out the problem. I wasn't overly keen on stinging nettles but as one learns to look out for them, being stung almost becomes a matter of choice.
Minerals I'm generally down with too. I don't recall being annoyed by a amethyst or taking umbridge at uraninite, though given the latter is a 'flesh devouring' mineral that emits natural radiation my opinion could conceivably change if I kept a lump of it in my pocket for any length of time.
Only animals have bothered me in a significant way. Bugs have bugged me to distraction. For their small size, Drosophila are remarkably irritating, especially if like me you enjoy a glass of wine, since these chaps like nothing more to join you in a glass - literally in your glass - committing suicide in the process, seemingly with the only purpose of plundering the pleasure of your sip by becoming a bitter, unwanted speck on your tongue. [If they bother you too, the trick is to get some empty spice jars, the ones with small perforations in the lid, half fill them with apple-cider vinegar and leave them dotted about your house. The vinegar is more tasty to the files than your wine and once they enter the spice jar they can't get out again. You may have seen many of their war-dead kin in vinegar cruets when holidaying in hot countries]
Creepy crawlies in general get my gander up. I can't stand spiders, crane flies, flying ants, beetles, cockroaches, earwigs, the list goes on and on. I endured a bed-bug infestation a few years ago that was extraordinarily irksome. Those guys are hard to vanquish. I spent months disinfecting and trying to track down the eggs but they kept coming back. Engage a professional pest controller if you can afford it, but I couldn't so I eventually cracked it by getting hold of some industrial-strength, nicotine based foggers, the type they use in professional greenhouses. I had to move out for a few days and everything had to be washed to get rid of the tobacco smell but the bed bugs abandoned the place never to return.
Apart from insects the only other class of animal to get my goat really is man. Where to start? I used to work with a guy years ago who, if there were any justice in this world, would have been clapped in irons. His crime? Well he brought a packed lunch into the office each day, part of which was a yogurt. I sat behind this chap, back to back with a movable partition screen separating us. Whenever his spoon reached the bottom of the yogurt pot he would scrape and lick, scrape and lick, scrape and lick. Minutes would go by of his noisy excavations at the bottom of the plastic pot, slowing the passage of time in my mind to a standstill. There surely could be not even a molecule of yogurt left, but on he would go, scraping, scraping scraping, until I would shout DAVE THAT'S IT - YOU'RE DONE!! then jump around the screen and blow his head off with a sawn off shotgun (well I didn't but that's what I was thinking).
This illustrates an important point about the nature of things that vex me. Human behaviour is far more irritating than anything else in the natural world because it is empowered by the volition of the human mind. Jean-Paul Sartre got it right when in his 1944 play 'Huis Clos' he said "Hell is Other People".
With that in mind, I've never quite understood why people congregate in Spain. Take bars for example. I knew a guy who ran a very popular little bar which was always packed. I asked him once why he didn't move to larger premises. He told me Spanish folk won't go into an empty bar. Larger bars seem emptier than smaller bars even if they have the same number of people in them [I later learned this is a manifestation of a psychophysical phenomenon called Weber's law, but I digress] Given the choice, if I was going to go for a drink with a friend I'd go for an empty bar rather than a full one, since I'd expect to get served more quickly and wouldn't have to shout to be heard but apparently I'm in the minority. People want atmosphere. When I lived in Murcia I'd occasionally go one of the beaches in a town called Aguilas. There are 35 beaches in Aguilas. Four of them have commercial facilities, bars, a first-aid hut, tourist tat shops etc. Those four beaches are generally heaving with tourists in summer, while the other 31 beaches will be virtually empty. Now me being me, my worst nightmare would be to go to one of the busy beaches, squeezing my beach towel between two families of tourists, indulging in the untold sorts of pursuits that would be sure to irk me. I'd prefer to drive five minutes down the road and have a beach to myself!
I'm probably then one of the few miserable buggers dreading the end of the lock down. I've quite enjoyed not hearing the nightly roaring of unsilenced quads, mopeds and scooters parading up and down the main street in pursuit of young female attention. I've quite enjoyed going shopping and not seeing a living soul except for the odd tractor driver spraying the street with bleach. The world seems a healthier, cleaner place with reports of crystal clear canals in Venice, reduced air pollution and animals venturing into towns emboldened by the abatement of people and traffic. If this is our dystopian future, long may it continue! Mind you as I say that, I've also noticed a sharp increase in flying things and creepy crawlies. I guess there's always a downside to everything. Where did I put those foggers?