Fifteen pence? Fifteen bloody pence?!

THERE are certain things that only Brits can do properly.

Humour, for example, and making cups of tea.

We’re also exceptionally blessed with an almost sixth sense which can locate fish and chips, roast dinners and scones with jam and cream from several hundred yards.

The men of our nation are fantastic at looking like prize twits abroad (handkerchiefs on the head and socks with sandals: need I say more?) while our pronunciation of words such as ‘herb’ and ‘aluminium’ is top-notch (or better than our cross-pond cousins anyway).

But, in my opinion, the thing we do best is grumbling, and we’ll do it about anything, to anyone, at any time or place.

I say this because I’ve never seen or heard so much fuss from the general public than when the new carrier bag charge came into effect on Monday.

You could almost hear the sigh of happiness go up across the length and breadth of the land as we awoke, as one, to the realisation that it was going to be an excellent day for whinging.

In the supermarket I found myself queuing behind a man who declared he ‘could not believe his ears’ that he would have to pay an extra 15p for the three bags he had used.

“I cannot believe my ears!” he told the cashier delightedly, several times. “Fifteen pee! Fifteen bloody pee!”

He did several comedy double-takes, as the bored cashier pointed to the huge sign explaining the new law.

“I’m appalled!” he continued, sounding more and more pleased with how the day was turning out. “Fifteen pee!”

The woman behind me leaned round, keen to join in the revelry.

“This country’s gone to the dogs,” she said happily. “Five pence for a bit of plastic! I’ve a mind to complain! Not that it’ll do any good because the government don’t listen – they’re just as bad! And another thing…”

They continued like this for several decades while the rest of the queue, not wanting to miss out, happily tutted and grumbled among themselves because they were being held up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice my ‘disapproving head shake’.

This great British past-time takes work, you know.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on October 8, 2015.


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