Hating clarinets and flip flops is just silly

Someone I used to know told me once that he hated clarinets. Why? I thought thinking of the wonderfully languid opening of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and then Mozart’s heart-breakingly beautiful Clarinet Quintet. As is usually the case when people say things like that, I prefer to step back. No discussion is going to change these, well, silly remarks.

There was an opinion piece in the newspaper the other day written by a highly intelligent man who chose to devote half a page in The Times to his “hatred” of sandals and flip flops as well as body tattoos. Why? I was thinking, perversely I suspect, of how good it has been for buttoned up old England to let itself go a bit. I am all for a bit more flesh on the street and I admire it when be-shorted, flip flopped people with less than perfect physiques stick up some proverbial fingers at those who want to cover them up. Why hate them? What has it got to do with you?

A friend of mine told me recently that he hated poetry. I suspect he was just trying to bait me as he knows that I write poetry. Well he didn’t succeed. I don’t hate him hating poetry any more than I hated the clarinet hater or the flip flop hater. I just thought that they should all calm down a bit.

What is this thing about hatred? It really can’t be good for you. I remember saying that I hated a meal at school called macaroni cheese but I didn’t go on about it. I just shoved it behind a radiator when the teachers weren’t looking. Revenge, I thought with childish ruthlessness, is much more satisfying than hatred.

Now that I am a perfectly balanced and smugly perfect adult, I wouldn’t put cheese behind radiators if I didn’t like the taste, I would just move on, or back away as my neurologist advises me.

Regular readers will know about my brain haemorrhage which happened about seven months ago. One of the many pieces of advice that I received to help my recovery was to avoid stress – to back away, in fact.

It really works too. You don’t need to have had brain damage to benefit from this, believe me.

I am mostly a relatively calm person or seem to be on the outside. I know we are all strung-up neurotics on the inside and I can’t deny moments of stress. They mostly involve computers.

In my bad old days, before my haemorrhage, I was guilty of killing at least two computer printers. They were vicious murders carried out in rage when these inanimate objects decided not to co-operate at critical moments. I was duly punished and I have served my sentence – loss of data, capital expense and a sense of helpless defeat.

Now, in my perfectly calm days, after my neurologist’s wise cautions, I meet my computer as a friend. When it fails me, as it has done during this last week, I have backed away. No more aggression, frustration and certainly no more hatred. I just get someone in to fix it whilst I go off and fix myself a cup of coffee and listen to some becalming Ella Fitzgerald – try her rendering of Manhattan if you are still feeling stressed.

Recently, in Britain, we are going through a time of political turmoil. Gordon Brown’s Labour government is in trouble and, after the European Election results, it is probable that the Conservative Party will win the next General Election. All around me I hear people tell me how much they hate this politician or that one.

Why? I think. At another time in my life, I worked a lot with politicians from all the main parties – Labour, Conservative and Liberal-Democrat – the people who are generally hate figures, all of them, with different people. I found them, mostly, to be perfectly ordinary human beings. A bit conceited, for sure, not shy of being the centre of attention, naturally, and pretty free-and-easy with their opinions, definitely. As for hating them, no, politicians, dictators and sadists apart, are just like the rest of us – flawed, mostly well-meaning and, if you can get your mind round it, cuddly even.

We disagree with a lot of things they say – sometimes with everything they say – but we really should back away from those feelings of hatred. They are no worse than clarinets, flip flops or computers. It is much better just to vote them out of office if you disagree with them.

We should save our hatred for injustices, cruelties and, yes, I admit it, computer printers.

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