There are obvious signs of the passage of time and then there are the subtle ones, writes Colm O'Regan
Obvious ones include the greying. Even the greying starts out surreptitiously, behind the ears where it thinks you won’t notice it. It lurks there, whispering in the minds of other hairs, spreading dissatisfaction and sedition. Before you know it, you have a full-scale grey protest not seen since the time they tried to take away the over 70s medical card.
You might, as time passes, start wanting to walk with your hands clasped behind your back. As if pacing an imaginary sideline as a ‘maor’, a crafty fag nestled in one hand, warming the cupped palm on a bitterly cold League Sunday.
Or you are worrying disproportionately about the bins and if they don’t go out feeling a slight tremor in the fabric of society, a glimpse at chaos; while also annoyed that the crowd two doors down are CLEARLY not segregating and could feck up the whole lorry-load.
Or you get a huge joy from visiting the rubbish-tip and throwing a broken hoover into the Household Electrical cage as if imprisoning a particularly troublesome offender.
(Note these kind of preoccupations are luxuries only for those of us lucky enough to not have anything really big to worry about. That goes out without saying but there’s no harm in saying it).
My subtle sign is the things that trigger me when I read them. One of my favourite itches is getting angry/triumphant at the outcomes of personal injury claims carefully selected for me by the newspapers.
You know the pattern. They’re sort of cartoonish.
A child gets a scratch and their Dad sues for 50K for lifelong medical care.
A woman tries to do the dance from Flashdance after 15 jagerbombs in Desire Niteclub and breaks an elbow off a bouncer’s head and tries to sue for ongoing soft tissue pain.
Some Latvian lad who once fought in the Russian Special Forces in CHechenya without a bother on him is somehow now so traumatised by a four mile-an-hour tip from a suspiciously conveniently located Yaris, that he’s suing his friend for PTSD.
How we cheer when the case is thrown out! How we howl when they get a load of money!
When it comes to personal injury claims in this country there are some people acting the maggot. People for whom setting up a fake car crash is as valid a way of making money as stealing, burglarising or pretending there are loads of other bidders on a house.
And they need to be clamped down on. If you take the piss with an insurance claim you should be done for perjury. Good and hard. One jail sentence should scare the rest.
But there are tons of cases we don’t hear about. Probably because they were correctly taken or the money given was not exorbitant. That’s just good consumer law protecting the Little Person from the Big Company. But that’s not how my mind works. I crave outrage like I scratch a mouth ulcer. The pain feels good.
Sometimes, when I’ve been sufficiently triggered, I ‘take to Twitter’ with no qualifications or background knowledge.
Recently I ranted about the amount of money given in a case. Some people with expertise gently pointed that maybe I didn’t have enough qualifications or background knowledge. They introduced pesky things like facts. And though I want stick to my angry gut feeling, I think it’s fair to say that maybe I was played. Played by websites who want me to be outraged. When you get outraged you often look in the wrong direction. If you’re looking at the news and getting angry at the Little Guy (whether the Little Guy is a deserving case who needs their rights protected or a malingering serial insurance thief) there’s a strong chance you are missing the Big Guy.
It suits our world view that transgressors are shnakey. It’s easier to criticise them than a giant insurance company making eight-figure profits and who could possibly change some things about their own behaviour. It’s hard to look harder for facts. Growing up is hard.