There’s nothing like a good whinge to make it better

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STEVE CANAVAN: Making a molehill out of Malcolm, my very minor ailment

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There’s nothing like a good old whinge to make you feel better.

Some people call it putting the world to rights. Some people call the first day of the working week Moanday.

Whatever you call it, getting things off your chest and having a moan, I find, is always cathartic.

So what would I do if someone told me I couldn’t? Well, I think there’d be a lot of spluttering, followed by a very loud ‘pardon?’ and the commencement of...that’s right...whingeing.

But what if they told me I couldn’t and reinforced it by shooting my sister? Or blowing my family up? What if they beat me until the whinges turned into whimpers and the tirade turned to tears?

I’d soon stop moaning. I’d go along with whatever I was told to do. I would kowtow, I would be humbled. I might never dare to meet somebody’s eyes ever again.

Luckily, in this country, I’m allowed to have a massive old moan about whatever I choose (usually work and boys), whenever I choose (usually in the evening, with a glass of wine), to whomever I choose (usually my girl friends, either in person or over the phone).

But other people aren’t so lucky. Three years ago, in Iraq, 38 people were killed by bombers who wanted them not to vote in the country’s first free election since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

In Kenya, in 2007, 1,000 people died in post-election violence. Yet this year, once again, they turned out to vote again and when they thought it had been rigged, the voters went up against Kalashnikov-toting policemen to voice their frustrations through the medium of rock-throwing.

So when I heard about the woefully low turnout at the Hampshire County Council election on Thursday, my heart sank a bit, and my forthright grandmother’s words rang in my ears: ‘People died to give you the vote, so make sure you go and do it.’

She was right. Wars have been fought both near and far so that people might be free. And the most important freedom they can have is to choose who to officially represent them. It might be a question of picking the best of a bad bunch – but embrace the fact the choice is yours.

Otherwise you’ve got no right to moan when things aren’t going your way.