It is said that no news is good news. I don’t know who said it but I have taken it to heart. Literally, I don’t listen to the news and hence, what is happening must be good. When the news comes on at, thankfully predictable, intervals, I reach for the remote and even get up and turn the radio off. Same with the ‘highlights’ on TV, I switch channels.  I have written before about hiding my head in the sand when it comes to this Ashes series and now I have perfected this technique.

I have history in the area. Throughout the day we usually listen to Classic FM. It plays a lot of nice, relaxing music but it is blighted, and I mean that, by the effing adverts. One or two are clever and make me smile, most pass by unnoticed but a few cause me to rush for the off switch or failing that the shotgun (I don’t actually have a shotgun, it is a metaphor). A while ago there was a jingle that started the advert Autoglass repair, Autoglass replace. Irritating beyond all coping with and the bloody jingle came right at the beginning so, even the quickest reaction and, you were half way through it.

Currently my most irritating adverts (most often car adverts) are those with the ’legals’, is that the term, at the end when the idiot speaker gabbles through a huge number of words telling you about terms and conditions or some such bollocks in a few seconds? I tried to count but of course the exercise is, by definition, impossible. I think I got a rough approximation of 50 or 60 words in 20 seconds. The great bonus of these adverts is that the gabble is at the end and therefore they are easily avoided. So it is with the cricket news. Easily avoided providing you are paying attention which, of course, is not always the case.  Sometimes the best laid plans gang aft aglay as Robbie Burns so wisely said. He knew a thing or two about trying to take control of one’s life.

This probably sounds a bit bonkers to people reading this who have no interest in The Ashes. So I will  call upon a couple of witnesses for my defence. First, an episode of ‘Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads’ in which Bob and Terry spent the whole day trying to avoid finding out the result of the match involving the England football team who were playing the game in a foreign country. The highlights, as it was in those days, were on that night and they didn’t want to spoil their enjoyment by knowing the result in advance. Fair enough. They went to extraordinary lengths to avoid finding out. At one point catching a glimpse of a newspaper billboard, they saw as much as – England F…  What did this mean? England 5, other team 0? England Fail. As I recall it turned out that the game had been postponed and the headline, I think, was England flooded. Now I know that a lot of people identified with this episode. They understood. Not quite the same as my current affliction but similar.

This kind of avoidance isn’t just sport related. I read in the paper, only this weekend, about the time when the Irish economy was seriously tanking and, I quote the article –‘A couple of years ago there were Irish citizens who would protect their mental health by routinely switching radio stations whenever the (financial) headlines came on’. So you see there is precedent for my own behaviour. As the writer said, it’s a mental health issue.

You might think that this degree of sticking head in sand is approaching serious psychological waters. I looked the term ‘avoidance’ up in one of my psychology text books. It’s associated with denial – reasonable enough and these (avoidance and denial), according to the book, are terms used when a person is placed under ‘moral strain’. This, in turn, is linked to the degree of involvement a person has with the subject / topic. If you don’t care then there isn’t a problem. These terms have an experimental basis. The research was carried out in the context of experimenters seeing just how far the subjects would go in giving other people (actors in the experiment) electric shocks if they were told it wasn’t their decision and they were simply doing as they were told. Quite a lot of electricity was used by those who felt little involvement with their fellow human beings. The book said when there was the likelihood of moral strain a person needs buffers to reduce the strain, avoidance and denial are buffers. That’s what I’m doing – providing myself with buffers. I hope you followed that logic.

I did wonder, as I wrote this blog, what, at a more general level, retired people tried, as a matter of habit or need, to avoid. Is there anything unique to us? Perhaps people who are still working because they remind us of what we’ve lost. Really old people because they remind us of what lies ahead. Young people because they remind us of what we once were. In my case, cricket obviously and joining certain kinds of retired persons’ clubs – those that advertise themselves as being for lonely people or that have any mention of eating together. I’m sure there are plenty more things and I look forward to finding out about them in my retirement years.


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  1. Alan Plumb 5 years ago

    What to do in retirement? As another psychologist my locus of control does not see me diving into despair when Spurs loose 5-0 or 6-0 yes bloody frustrated and ever optimistic that by the end of the year we will be in a better position than now! Then again as an Aussie psychologist i do have the euphoria of 3-0 at this stage. Yes I was anxious at times that the young stokes might have a partner carry him through. Where does this take us? The issue is how we think about things. We had a few series of losses which you were the benificery of in terms of bottles of Wine won on series outcomes and now I get one back. This series is not quite as good as sitting in the WACA with you seeing Eng lose in 3 days. Yes I can rub it in. Yes it is only a game, remember Spurs!
    Let’s go back to the locus of control as actually it is something we do have control over if we choose to! I do get frustrated with results, then there is tomorrow , another game, another challenge that takes one’s fancy or even the thought of what will the first vintage wines taste like?
    Over to you Peter your Aussie mate who after a few series is enjoying himself and who is looking forward to retirement in July. Then again for the next six months I work 0.5 and access long service leave funds for the other 0.5, so full salary working 0.5. There has to be some benefit for bring a colonial and part of the shrunk empire!


    • Summerhouse 5 years ago

      Well all sounds good then, congratulations again

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