Grumpy Old Minister Index Home

Did you see, in the weeks before Christmas, a short series on TV called “Grumpy Old Men”?  As an idea for a programme, this was remarkably simple.  Each instalment featured a group of fairly well-known blokes aged from about 50 upwards getting a number of complaints off their chest about things that happen in the “modern” world.  Not totally seriously, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t have been entertaining.  And to call these guys “old men” would be rather an exaggeration.  However, it was fun for this particular 40-something to watch, now and then thinking, “Yes, I agree”!  So if the programme-makers were aiming their product at me, mission accomplished. 

And they knew what they were doing, in putting this series on.  They wanted it to ring bells.  For I think that the most entertaining and gripping TV shows, films, theatre and books are those that somehow strike a chord with us viewers or readers as individuals.  Sometimes this is at the fantasy level of “I wish that was me”, for example when watching James Bond, or the heroes of “The Lord of the Rings”.  Sometimes it’s more personal – you watch the angst that two young people in their teens or twenties are going through in working out their relationship, and your mind goes back a number of years to the time when you were having similar experiences.

Naturally, the producers have to exaggerate the scale and the number of things that happen to their characters, or else the audience’s attention would flag.  This is why the Accident and Emergency department in Holby General Hospital is inundated with a weekly stream of patients who have come about their injuries in rather more dramatic ways than might be the case in our own dear Coventry and Warwickshire!  But in amongst the interwoven stories we will now and then find someone or some event that resonates with us.

And it happens in real life, too.  When we see someone in a predicament that we shared once upon a time, we are all the more likely to sympathise with them.  We react to them, and if it’s appropriate and in our power, we help, we give advice, whatever.  The unifying commandment of Jesus Christ was that we should “love one another”, and in part it was surely aimed at this particular human activity.  We should respond as unselfishly as we can to the needs we see in other people; we should let other people learn from our mistakes, do our best to allow the cumulative experience of one generation to inform and guide the next.

Going back to where we started, it strikes me that some may think that ministers of the church spend all their time being nice to people.  We try, but just to finish off, maybe I could prove my “Grumpy Old Man” credentials.  I wish that people wouldn’t...

... begin all their replies to questions with the word "well".

... say that others have done things "off their own back", when the right (cricketing) metaphor is actually "off their own bat".

... think that the sliding things in furniture are "draws"; they are "drawers".

... add "at all" to questions that have a yes/no answer: "Is Bill at home at all?".  Answer, presumably, "His feet and lower legs are, but as for the rest of him..."

... miss syllables off an increasing range of common words - probably becomes "probly", terrorist becomes "terrist", particularly becomes "particly" 



(c) Copyright Bill Young 2004