Rob Stocks - Taking Stock 14/2/2011

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I’ve never considered myself a grouch, so it came as some surprise recently when a colleague here at Gazette Towers chose to point out how ‘less grumpy’ I’d been since the birth of my twins.

I’m not saying I’ve ever been Mr Sunshine. I’m not afraid to share my opinion, whether it be politics, fashion, the fact there’s nothing on the box or what the kids are up to across the road.

But come on, I’m hardly Victor Meldrew.

Truth-be-told, it’s set alarm bells ringing.

Being a curmudgeon has always been a trait I’ve associated with men who’ve entered middle age.

In years, undoubtedly, I’m not there yet.

I have friends much closer to 40 who are still trying to live the student dream – work by day, pub by mid-afternoon – with varying degrees of success.

As a family man, I’ve left all that behind. But in doing so, have I mentally crossed the line from sprightly youth to professional grouch?

There are a few telltale signs.

For a start I cringe at the thought of my entire teenage years, not to mention my time at university. My Durham Desmond (that’s a 2:2) is all well and good, but I can’t help but feel it might have been improved upon had I spent less time in the New Inn and more time in the library across the road.

Shirts, I think, are as good an indicator as any of the stage you’re at in your life.

When I was young there was always a definite divide between workwear and Saturday night specials.

Nowadays the two piles have merged into one – most of which are white because, after all, it goes with everything (although usually a cardigan). Fortunately the internet is full of answers for those looking to pin down their position on the snakes and ladders board of life.

Take, for example, the International Society of Curmudgeons, which not only provides a brief rundown of famous grumps (some fictional, all much older than yours truly) but will also, for a small fee, provide you with your very own certificate – endorsed by loveable Muppet grumps Waldorf and Statler.

There’s advice too on how to spot if you’re a curmudgeon.

Apparently it’s something to do with a dark sense of humour and a bleak world outlook – that’s how you can tell a real curmudgeon from a regular grouch.

Not me, I decided I’m not a curmudgeon and cancelled the order for my $4 certificate.

My Good Wife agrees. She’s told me that miserable as I might be, I could never be accused of having a sense of humour. That’s enough to put me back in a bad mood – middle aged or not.