Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all Heaven in a rage
William Blake 1757-1827

Ira furor brevis est.
Anger is a short madness.
Horace 65-8 B.C.

I know that ‘short madness’. I’d love to be a sweet old lady but the longer in the tooth I get the shorter my fuse. Last night I watched a documentary ‘Losing it’ with Griff Rhys Jones and straight away he admits to ‘getting cross’ and having a propensity to throw a wobbly. Having watched him over the years I have always looked on him as an amiable, bumbling sort of chap but immediately he showed a clip of him racing, surrounded by other boats and clearly wild with rage. I have experienced men becoming monsters behind the tiller and was always thankful that William, my first husband, even in the hairiest moments, kept his calm.

Loss of control can be funny as we were reminded with a clip of Fawlty Towers and John Cleese beating the mini to death but as Griff’s children pointed out it is not easy to live with; He paces and mutters, seething with rage; his wife keeps out of the way. His sister remembers when he was in a production at Stratford and through no fault of his own - the production was not going well; he had a toddler tantrum banging hands and feet.

Chatting to a make – up artist who used to work with him on ‘Smith and Jones’ she said he was hard work and not a joy, with moods and pacing up and down whereupon Griff showed he was clearly in denial by saying ‘I did not!’
According to Mental Health authorities, 1 in 10 people have temper problems. There was an amusing clip from ‘Not the 9 o’ clock News’ with Pamela Stephenson interviewing a man and a gorilla, and looking exactly as she now looks interviewing peoples for real, as a psychologist.

Griff was told it was genetic and he remembered his father was very crotchety. Men get angrier than women and the testosterone used by weight lifters shortens their life by 10 years; and experiment where sex offenders were emasculated so they were eunuchs lived 13 years longer. At this stage I wondered if I had heard correctly but that is what my notes said.

One of the people interviewed was Heston Blumenthal – the chef who uses strange ingredients. He told of an incident - driving home exhausted when he had a van driver give him the finger, whereupon Heston drove his car at the van and the van driver- terrified - ran off. Heston realised that a pedestrian could have been killed and that was his moment of truth when he knew he had to call a halt and regain control.

To my great shame I remembered an incident some years back when, in rage and frustration I hit a man twice my size. That stopped me short and horrified me sufficiently to avoid ever getting in that state again. One thing I do find helps, is when I can feel anger rising, to shout ‘Red light! Red light!’ in my head and stop, and breathe.

During the programme – although we miss the actual event we see Griff livid and laughing maniacally and recounting an experience he has just had with some builders which has left his car lacerated down one side. His wife remarked ruefully that she would take it into the garage and the men there would assume that she – not her husband was responsible. She admits he drives her crazy and she has come close to physical violence.

Griff sees himself as a crusader – if only people would do it right - there wouldn’t be a problem and when he said people were incompatible with him it was pointed out that he was the one not compatible that he should turn it round: you are making yourself angry not the other way round.

George Galloway said anger was like electricity – it could kill a man and it could save a baby’s life. He used it to rally people for a great cause when it was entirely justified and honourable and he told how he prepared for his court case in America when he mesmerised everybody by attacking – in a holier than thou manner – everybody in sight. What an actor!

A shocking statistic is that 1 in 3 nurses have suffered violence and abuse whilst on duty – that is a sign of the times and unheard of fifty years ago. Sharon Lee a nurse in Sheffield told of her experience and is now no longer able to work on a hospital ward.

Finally Griff walked and talked with his dear friend who had been his PA and was shocked to hear her talk about his terrible rages when she saw him kick a hole in a door. He tried to get her to say it was alright but she said she felt she was blotting paper having to soak all that rage up. He admitted later he wanted her to be like ‘Mummy’ and say it didn’t matter but she said it was a burden having someone off- load all that. This seemed to genuinely upset him – another sign of being in denial.

The second and last programme will show what he tries to do about it – trying to find a potential solution by boxing, meditation and an anger management course. I can’t wait.


Mei Del said...

i must say meditation and deep breathing exercises was my salvation. and being female perhaps i have less testosterone although i must have a higher level than the average woman. i will certainly look out for the programme.

PI said...

Mei: you and me both:)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That DOES sound interesting. Thanks for blogging it so thoroughly, Pat - I'm looking forward to your write-up of part 2.

PI said...

Zinnia: thanks ducks:) I will really try but I'm away next week and no computer. If poss I'll watch it, take notes and report a week later.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Very interesting, my dear!
I must say--like you---my Fuse is so much shorter now it kind of scares me sometimes. I don't l;ike that this is true, but....I'm afraid it just happens so quickly that it is out of my mouth before I can even try to stop it!
I wish we were getting that program here...But Alas, we aren't.
Do keep us informed, if yiu can.

john.g. said...

I never had tantrums like those! Am I normal? (DO NOT ANSWER THAT!!)

sablonneuse said...

Oh, I missed that programme but from the trailers I thought he was simply researching the problem and the scenes of him 'losing it' were acting. Thanks for explaining it, Pat.No doubt some of this applies to Bear.

Anonymous said...

Here is a sir who wanting to imitate the clowns Sits on his nose ,How after that he can blow himself !!!

I feel sorry for his wife her children , but especially for the nurses, who , in case of emergency is confronted to this type ( Dude ) of olibrius.

The man is an onion Which takes itself for a big plum.
He is more glorious to conceive as a flesh with a solid central entity, eternal although mysterious that we call a soul, rather than to see itself constituted of a multitude of tiny peels built in the course of the experiments around a space which we shall never manage to know.
In brief, an onion without soul, mortal and which makes cry.

kenju said...

I don't know who he is, but I do know some men with anger issues, and theya re not easy to deal with. I hope he got/gets help.

PI said...

John.g: we've only your word for it. I'll have to have a word with your Dad.

Sandy: I hope Bear isn't so explosive. Maybe he should have watched it.

Crabtree: I think it was very therapeutic that his wife, children and friends could have their say. I hope he pays attention.
I think the onion analogy makes sense.

PI said...

Judy: he's a British (Welsh)actor/presenter /comedian; very well known over here and the last person you would imagine to have a violent temper.

R. Sherman said...

Anger can be a good thing, if it is reserved for appropriate times. The problem is that most people overreact and deploy their tempers under circumstances where it is not warranted, methinks.


Kim Ayres said...

I thought it was brilliant programme and I'm looking forward to next week's.

Anonymous said...

Yes the onion !

The coat does not make the monk ( saying from our home )
Under the dress of a monk hides a man!

Take an onion and peel him ( to strip ) more you remove layer more he makes you cry !

Sous l'habit d'un clown peut se cacher de la tristesse :(

PI said...

Randall: I can't imagine you doing that:)

Kim:I'm glad at least one of my pals watched it. We will be in a cottage in Fremlington but as long as the reception is OK I'll be watching.

PI said...

Crabtree: c'est vrai! You are a philosopher:)

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Well Griff is a Celt isn't he, it goes with the territory. I used to think I suffered from manic depression until I remembered that both my grandfathers were Irish. So that's all right then!

rashbre said...

Didn't see it but I'd have put him into the slightly bumbling category, so it goes to show that all cannot be read easily.

Presumably there's a mental health thread through the documentary somewhere?

I suppose another unfortunate variant is substance abuse (booze n drugs) related.

Eryl Shields said...

This all sounds fascinating and makes me wish I had a TV.

Happy hols! X

PI said...

Daphne; do you have a temper too?

Rashbre: I used to reckon you had to climb a mountain or sail with a man to see what he was really like.
I hope they mmay touch on the ental health connection in the second programme. I don't think hormones were mentioned either.

Eryl: If you had one you wouldn't read so many books.

problemchildbride said...

Pamela Stephenson gets my goat for some reason. It's unfair becasue I don't know much about her apart from her Billy Connolly biography and when she was all over the shop promoting it.

My brother was a nurse in the intake ward of the worst hospital in Glasgow and regularly had to face angry, drunk or drugged up patients or relatives. Being the only male nurse there he was the obvious target and it used to worry the hell out of me that he worked there. Nowadays, he's a medic on the rigs in the North Sea. Despite the howling storms out there, he says it's a far gentler gig.

PI said...

Sam: Pamela S had done so much paryodying of what is now her own persona - it's difficult to take her seriously.
It must have been a nightmare having your brother working under such horrible circumstances; and a relief now - just the elements to cope with.

Kanani said...

My son has a terrible anger problem. There isn't a day where he doesn't use a harsh tone of voice with me, sometimes even humiliating me in public.

He has three diagnosis: ADHD, NOCS, and Asperger's. He's on medication. Yet, it seems to me that the real struggle with him is slowing down long enough to think rather than react on impulse. There's also some paranoia involved with his personality type, which of course feeds into his insecurity.

I'm sure Griff can be utterly charming when he wants. And that's what helped him get his foot in the door with acting. Lucky man. He's found some success and praise. But for every one of Griff --there are thousand of people like him who don't find success, and smolder dangerously without any outlet.

Anyway, do let me know what you find out.

PI said...

Kanani: I'nm so sorry you have such a heavy load to bear. It must be hell at times for both you and your son and I pray life will get easier for you both.