Some would have us believe that we Irish are not good at complaining. I don’t know if there be any truth in this assertion, but one way or the other, I wish to kick off this week’s piece with a complaint of my own.
My complaint is against ‘complainers!’ We are not talking about the person expressing his or her grievance or justifiable complaint, or the possibly correct complaint about this column that ‘any eegit could write that sort of s###e.’ No, we are on about the ‘career complainer’ where everyone and everything is deemed to be wrong all the time. A publican I know refers to one end of the bar clientele as ‘complainer’s corner!’
Complaining about something is fine and dandy, but only if you have a solution or know a better way for doing the thing. This is not how it works with the career complainers who inhabit complainer’s corner! To be a member here you need to have an opinion about everything that is wrong with everything and why ‘the whole thing is b###ixed!’
Those of you of a certain age will remember a Radio Eireann entertainment programme called ‘Take the Floor’, compered by ‘Dinjo.’ It consisted of music, singing and even step-dancing on the radio! But every week, ‘Take the Floor’, also delivered a recitation and one such verse stuck in my mind: ‘We’ll all Be Ruined, said Hanrahan!’ Hanrahan belonged in complainer’s corner!
‘There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We’ll all be ruined, said Hanrahan,
Before the year is out.’
There is a complainer’s corner in every country and so while we’re in the versing mode, let’s quote American singer/recitator, Walter Brennan and his famous rendering of ‘Life Gets Tee-jus, don’t it.’
‘Cows gone dry and the hens won’t lay,
Fish quit bitin’ and its Saturday.
Troubles are pilin’ up day by day
…. And now I’m getting dandruff …’
The Lads and ‘Gorls’ of complainer’s corner are not to be confused with the genuine complainer with a single issue to be resolved. If it wasn’t for these positive complainers nothing might ever get changed for all our good.
Some common complaints are harmless and become a habit that we can all indulge in. The weather is the most obvious example. Roughly the same amount of rain falls every year, (leaving aside the climate change crisis) but a wet day (‘a hoor of a day’) arrives with all the shock of finding an elephant in the garden. The same amount of grass grows each year, but don’t be surprised when a farmer complains that ‘there was shockin’ bad growth this year!’
‘The youth of today’, come in for very unfair criticism in complainer’s corner. (The youth being adjudged to be too young to have attained the required wisdom to join the corner.)
I would agree that young people are not as ‘street wise’ or as savvy in some respects as we were at their age; but being in the habit of spending a lot of my time fraternising with the ‘youth of today’, I believe they are the best generation to have yet inhabited the planet. They are more caring of others and have a much wider awareness of what’s going on in the world around them.
‘The price of everything’ gets a good airing in the corner. ‘I remember when you could buy five pints and a packet of fags – and still have the price of the dance out of a pound’, one disciple of speaker’s corner, will bemoan … to be followed by his story being topped one by one. The fact that the pound was harder got then than a ‘fifty’ today doesn’t get a mention.
Complaining in any form will always be acceptable when the person is there to stand over it, or sign their name to everything they write. It is the anonymous desk-top complainers who are the scourge of the modern age. Cowards who spew their vile rhetoric against whoever is their hated target. This has done untold damage especially to young people. Colm O’Rourke in his column last week, called them ‘the toxic screwballs.’ Here’s an example:
When 33 miners were miraculously rescued amidst worldwide joy from an underground mine in Chile in 2010, I wrote a column about it and told of some of my experiences working underground in the mines. I mentioned that in one mine where I worked in 1967, twelve miners got killed, including four friends of mine.
A ‘friend’ of mine – who was then sweet as a nut to my face, posted his comment anonymously on the web; “Boring, boring Bernie – pity he didn’t get lost in the mines.” The fact that I was able to tell who wrote it was the worst of it – but also the best of it! George Best said that nasty comments stopped bothering him when he realised it was all about jealousy because they couldn’t be him. Now you have it …!
Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain.