"Le monde est plein de fous,
Et qui n'en veut pas voir,
Doit se tenir tout seul,
Et casser son miroir."
(Thomas Love Peacock, 1831)
Is starting a blog post with a French quotation pretentious? Now there's a question. But it's not a question for this posting...
The world indeed full of fools, and avoiding them is pretty much impossible. On the tube, in the sports centre, in Waitrose, in the street - the word is full of people who do stupid things without even realising that what they are doing is stupid.
Every Sunday, I have an hour of badminton booked at 9am at the local sports centre in Wapping. The sports hall has four badminton courts. The two near the door are in use, and the other two are behind a curtain and the space used for toddlers' football. So, parents and kids come in through the door and walk around the edge of the badminton court to get over to play football. Or most do.
Of course, these are toddlers and so as soon as the door is open, they tend to bolt in a straight line for the football and that means straight across the court.
My problem with this isn't with the kids, it's with the parents. I don't mind too much if my badminton game is occassionally interrupted by a wandering toddler. Kids are kids, after all. But I don't really appreciate getting a torrent of abuse from parents like I did today when I simply suggested that three times was fairly often for the same toddler to run into the middle of a game - and I politely pointed out that should I be running backwards for a shot at the time and run into a toddler, then I'm not going to come off as badly as the toddler in that.
The whole thing culminated in my getting so much abuse that I had to go to reception to complain - and which point the father followed me to reception and hurled more abuse at me.
It's true that I just needed to get this out of my system, as it really pissed me off, but it does seem to be quite common these days that parents let their kids run wild and then attempt to absolve themselves of any blame. I'm not stupid - I know that a five year old doesn't know that they shouldn't run onto the badminton court - that's why I expect the parent to take responsibility and attempt to stop them..
I did think I was just getting old and grumpy, but none of my friends would let their kids run amok in a sports hall. I may have been a little git at times when I was a kid, but my parents wouldn't have let me run wherever I wanted to.
Of course, it's not just parents who can be stupid. People who travel up escalators and as soon as they get off the top, stand still looking confused whilst deciding where to walk next whilst everyone behind is thrown into them by the escalator. People who stand right in the middle of the tube doors on the platform as if they expect that by some magic force, all those people getting off the train can magically walk right through them.
But the fundamental problem is with me - I know that. Something like the two guys at badminton this morning shouldn't put me off my game; it shouldn't case me to stew on it for most of the day. But it does, and that's why I had to write this rant to get it out of my system....