Irksome things like extraneous packaging and tiny yoga pants can take your mind off harsh realities.

I can't remember when I last got the chance to watch the TV news and even Morning Report is a problem.

My children have of late started getting nightmares after seeing images of wars, Isis, plane crashes, car crashes and basically everything except house prices and the weather.

When I was a child my parents felt I needed to have my consciousness raised about man's inhumanity to man, and took me on protest marches, so naturally I have gone to the other extreme and want my children to stay innocent of the grisly unfeeling world for as long as possible.

Also, I find it difficult to answer their questions: "Mum, why can't there be peace in the Middle East", "Mum, why is everyone obsessed with house prices?" "Mum, why isn't the world stopping climate change?"


Starved of geo-political crises, I find it quite comforting to focus instead on minor, trivial, annoyances.

In a hostile, toxic world, it is soothing to let out your inner curmudgeon.

Here is my current schedule of random irksome things.

1 "The tragedy quickly became a trending hashtag."

2 My son keeps reporting players for "inappropriate conduct" on the game he plays called Spore. I asked him why he reported them. He said because they are BORING. I had to explain you can't get someone into trouble just because they are boring; tempted as we all might be.

3 Why package scissors so you need another pair of scissors to get them out? Extraneous packaging on toothbrushes and any other item.

4 Wrapping children's exercise books.

5 Self-discrepancy theory. The gap between the qualities you possess and the qualities you believe you ought to possess. Eg, I possess "English knees" but ought to have a thigh gap.


6 I have got drunk, eaten dinner, slept the night, played cricket, gone barefoot and many other things but I have never had sex in the office.

7 The perverse correlation between men becoming more hairy and women having to strip every hair follicle on their bodies (hipster beards and Brazilians).

8 The growth of spiritualising of hygiene hysteria and priggishness: antiseptic wipes, caffeine colonics and Gwyneth Paltrow steaming her vagina.

9 Discovering the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless. Peacocks tails, lilies. (For Darwin this was a deeply troubling observation.)

10 Lululemon yoga pants. They don't make them past size 12. Lululemon founder Chip Wilson: "Some women's bodies don't work for the pants. It's really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time."

11 The moment of pathos at the conclusion of doing my online grocery shopping when it prompts me "Things you've forgotten: DOG FOOD."

12 Cleaning up droopy helium balloons after children's birthday parties.

13 Service stations with no service that sell 50 sorts of energy drink but no jumper leads.

14 The growing phenomenon of faux-offence. (Rude sculpture. Benedict Cumberbatch saying "coloured". )

15 The grammar Nazi who wanted to get "comprised of" removed from Wikipedia. Initially thought he was language hero: actually, fruit loop.

16 "From my family to yours." Where did this revoltingly smug saying hail from? What if someone hasn't got any family? Or doesn't even like them? It is even on my favourite yoghurt container.

17 Parking buildings which only have two skinny carparks between poles on level 8.

18 The demonisation of the working classes in modern culture. Tim Lott: "From being heroic, interesting, passionate, honest and authentic, working-class people are now seen as white, racist, thuggish, scrounging, loud, unpleasant and uncultured."

19 Psychic entropy. A state of mind characterised by anxiety, sadness and boredom (invented by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the guy who came up with the concept of "flow"). He suggests using such times to do easy mechanical tasks like laundry and dishes, focus on external or others' needs, or in my case, play QuizUp.

20 Problems. The mind loves problems because it gives you an identity of sorts.