Grumpy old man
I have a fear that I’m losing my veneer of polite acceptance and I am becoming an intolerant grumpy old man. It’s a nightmare really and I need to be told by those near enough to me when it’s happening.
I think I was close this week on two occasions at the Ilfracombe Victorian Week. It was a wonderfully sunny week with only one day off due to rain which I wrote about in my last blog. After that day the sun came out and stayed out. Actually the first grumpy old man episode was on the Monday which was ‘school day’. The local Infant School come annually en masse in costume to the green where I have the theatre. I do two shows one immediately after the other as there are a lot of them and also the lower end of the infant school are only four and five, and they have far less understanding of the conventions of performance and so need a completely different approach. Anyway the two shows one immediately after the other went very well. I did a little bit of proper education prior to the show about the names of hats and that seemed to go down well, and then two different age-appropriate shows.
What made me grumpy was during my consideration of the event afterwards. I was sitting at the front of my space, watching the children go and saying goodbye to them, thinking about what had just happened, which routines had worked well and what I could learn for next time. There must have been twenty adults, a mixture, I guess, of staff of the school and maybe some parents enrolled into helpers for the day to help chaperoning. There was no way of telling which was which, they were just adults looking after children who had just been entertained for about an hour and a quarter by me. During the shows the adults had sat in the sun doing very little really. A nice little break in their day.
What upset me was that not one of the adults said anything at all to me as they left. OK, so I wasn’t expecting a ‘thanks’ or a comment that they’d enjoyed the shows. But nothing. They just walked off. What made me think about this at all was one small boy, about six years old, who as he left smiled at me and said, completely unprompted, ‘Thanks for the show’. Thinking back, exactly the same had happened last year. Without the small boy. Which was possibly why I didn’t notice it then. It left me feeling angry and grumpy that not one of these teachers or adults had given the fact that they’d just watched two free shows and, cumulatively had spent over an hour just sitting in the sunshine, any thought that a ‘thank you’ would have made a difference to me and to my real worry that something seems to have gone wrong with our education system.
Was I justified to be grumpy about this? Would I have been bothered a few years back? Possibly not, so I think it’s age and growing intolerance that acts as a spur to even thinking about such things.. I do think though we seem to be losing touch with some of the social values which, when I was a teacher, I felt were just as important as any curriculum, specifically, respect, politeness and courtesy.
Rant over. The other grumpiness incident definitely was grumpy old man stuff. On Friday I lost it with the cowboys who were shooting guns all around the promenade and as a result Blue, my younger dog became terrified which she does whenever there are bangs or thunder or fireworks. What annoyed me was I had been told half an hour before that it wasn’t going to happen. And then it did, and I had to cancel the first show to attend to a hysterical hound. Mr A was not a happy man as a few people found out.
So I’m sorry to those who experienced the grumpy old man I became on those two occasions and if anyone knows a grumpy old man remedy please email me.
All the best from a road near you,