The Old Grumpies column: We can ask ‘how’ - ‘why’ is more difficult...

At our recent meeting, the grumpiness started early when some members had to make a detour to get to the meeting because a road had been closed.

Someone said: “How is it that the council think that a tiny sign on a lamp post is all the notice they need to tell you that the road is to be closed?”

Another said: “And how is it that there is an enormous sign down Halifax Road which tells you that in three weeks time a road in Heptonstall will be closed for two hours. A road you have never been down and never will go down?”

What followed was a large number of: “How is it that…” questions such as “How is it that temporary traffic lights keep springing up and some can have a mile queue one way and nothing the other way?”

Our tempers are greatly affected by which way we are going at the time. And how is it that there are signs on the roadside which indicate ‘men working’ but the chances of seeing that is about as rare as spotting a golden eagle flying over Halifax. If you do manage to see one they appear to have had their hands super-glued into their pockets. Workmen not golden eagles, that is.

Then it was the turn of motorists: “How is it that some think that ‘no-entry’ signs don’t apply to them, they can park anywhere, and wherever or whatever the situation they have the right of way and if they want to use their mobile phones they will?”

Frustration was expressed at the way they seem to get away with it, but if we park two inches over a parking bay we have £60 to pay (generously reduced to £30 if we pay straightaway)

Dog dirt was next and a member seemed to have put his finger on it when he asked “How is it that some people collect their dog’s contribution in a black plastic bag and then either throw it over a wall or hang it on a tree?”

At this point someone remarked that he felt there were far more important subjects to discuss. This was accepted but as far as dog-dirt was concerned we agreed we would not sweep it under the carpet.

Before we could get on to the dreadful demolition dumps and the potty pothole patching policy and the woeful wheelie-bin tossers, the mood softened a little when attempts were made by a member to ask some lighter questions such as, “ how is it that the word ‘dyslexia’ is difficult to spell, or ‘abbreviation’ is such a long word or that there is no easy way to remember how to spell the word ‘mnemonic’?

Although no-one really knew what he was talking about the mention of the problems of memory provoked one member to ask: “How is it that I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday but I can vividly remember my first girlfriend telling me I had cold hands?”

Our resident doctor then tried to explain about long and short-term memory, about rehearsal and commitment and just happened to recollect the occasion many years ago, when he lost an arm-wrestling match with a young lady, as an example of how some things stick in the memory.

Judging by the response to that confession he will never be allowed to forget it.

It was inevitable that someone would ask: “How is it that if I do ninety-nine things right and one thing wrong I am continually reminded of the one I got wrong?”

You could tell that the chairman was worried at the direction the questions were going and when someone asked: “How is it that when you are fast asleep in bed, your good lady will wake you and then ask you if you are awake?” he banged his gavel and said that there was a danger that if we continued on that particular subject people might think that we were sexist.

When he announced that the subject at the next meeting would be politics with special reference to the General Election the mood of grumpiness returned.

Apologies were given and when those who had just woken up heard the news, they said they would rather talk about dog-dirt...