Worrying whether I have been angry enough in life…

JULIAN – I think you’re not angry enough. This is not me talking to myself, but words lifted from a comment on Facebook about my last blog.

My observed lack of crossness was in relation to the speeding ticket I picked up just before Christmas. I mentioned this penalty in passing to draw comparison with the comparatively lenient sentence imposed on the woman whose careless driving saw York panto star Martin Barrass come off his motorbike and suffer a horrible litany of injuries.

Was I angry about my ticket? In a way, yes. It seems so easy to get a ticket nowadays. The system operates like a reverse lottery: it might be you and – oh, bugger – look it is (again). I certainly seem to have more ‘luck’ with speeding tickets than with the lottery.

Broadly, I suspect there are two types of speeding: 1) stupid idiot speeding; and 2) momentary lapse speeding. My feeling is that most people caught and fined probably fall into the second category. While those in the first category are more likely to cause accidents.

You see, on a journey it is possible to drive sensibly and within the limits for 300 miles, and to accidentally break the limit for 300 yards. And if those 300 yards contain a camera, then you’re done for.

The commentator who ticked me off for not being angry enough made a sensible point, saying that the system should “allow some pragmatic discretion in the matter of appropriate speed (and that includes driving too slowly and holding up a stream of traffic)”.

It is common in roadworks – and how common they indeed are – to see signs warning drivers about the lower speed limit, adding that their average speed will be taken into consideration. This seems fairer to me, and it’s a shame there isn’t a way of checking all speed limits like that. Well, there probably is, but it would involve having some sort of GPS device in your car so that Big Brother could get in the passenger seat, as it were.

The comment on Facebook set me thinking about the uses of anger, and how some people are more furious than others. Some of us are like a kettle with a stuck switch, always steaming and spouting; others let their anger bubble quietly away – or maybe they just aren’t made of the cross stuff, not fully stuffed with crossness.

I am quite taken with this notion of not being cross enough. Perhaps this is true. If I had been crosser in life, would I have reached higher up the ladder? Anger is, after all, a useful propellant.

It is hard to gauge your own personality, but I suspect mine is level and calm, and sometimes too accepting.

Was I cross when I lost my long-term job 18 months or so ago? More bewildered at the time, for as anyone who has been through that miserable experience can report, you just feel too bruised and confused to be angry. Later I was angry – quietly seething rather than boiling over, but angry, yes for sure.

But I never was an angry young man. Not that I am not so young, I am still not angry, and have no wish to descend into cantankerousness as time passes – as it almost certainly will.

There are those who are angry almost without interruption. I have worked with some of them down the years. Others just get on with life, stay calm and maybe bottle things up (not always healthy).

Is it too late to join the other team? I understand there are anger management classes for people who have difficulty controlling their temper. With that in mind, perhaps there should be anger management classes for those of us who aren’t angry enough, with useful advice on how to flip your lid. Just like that kettle with a stuck switch.

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