One of the questions I am most asked about my specific brand of cynical blogmanship is why do it at all? Why can't I just leave people alone with their harmless fantasies and online fripperies instead of poking them with a big stick and getting them all agitated?
My answer is that I can't not do it. It is hardwired into my brain.
There is a saying which goes "give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" which is perhaps best illustrated with a story from my past. When I was a little girl of about 8 or 9 years old, I went to a small village primary school. The pupils there ranged from infants of 4 right through to 11 year old seniors waiting to move up to the secondary modern. One of the 11 year olds was a nasty piece of work. Andrew, his name was. Handy with his fists. Came from a rough part of the council estate and a family with a bad reputation. I mostly kept out of his way but occasionally our paths would cross, which never ended well for me.
Our school playground had a fence all around it and a five bar gate for deliveries and the like. One playtime I observed Andrew, alone for once, sitting on top of the five bar gate. He was facing away from the playground, gazing out onto the road, his back to me, just perched there.
"Don't do it," said the cautious part of my brain. "He is a bigger and faster than you and he will catch you and hurt you."
I couldn't argue with the logic in that. On the other hand, he was someone I loathed and feared in equal measure and he had his back to me in a perfect "hey, push me into the road!" position.
"You really shouldn't do this," said my voice of reason as I stealthily approached from behind. "He is going to be so angry."
The birds sang, the sunlight dappled down between the leaves on the trees, I stretched out my arms and I shoved him off the top of the gate with all my strength.
Then I turned and ran, ran, ran. I didn't wait to see the results of my efforts, I just assumed he would be up and at me as soon as he hit the deck. So I pumped my plump little legs and skidded into the school just as he slammed through the door behind me. We were in a small entrance hall which led into the headmaster's office. I had my hand on the latch which would open the door to Authority and save me from the Law of the Playground.
"If you hit me," I panted, "I'll open the door!"
He stared at me for a moment then gave me a dead arm with deadly precision and accuracy. You don't get to be head school bully without that kind of skill. I did not, of course, open the door. I just clutched my arm and saw stars for a bit. My upper arm subsequently came up in a purple lump about the size of an orange. I remember my mum being quite upset about it, but I considered it fair enough and well worth it for the pleasure I had of pushing him off that gate.
Another story, the same school, the same 9 year old Luka. I had been in a fight with a girl named Helen. I can't remember what it was about, but we ended up in that Headmaster's office, standing before the desk, examining our shoes while he lectured us both on our shameful behaviour. "Now apologise," he commanded. Helen said sorry. I said sorry. Yet I felt the situation was unresolved as I was clearly in the right and Helen was a ratbag. As we left the office I said in a loud, steady voice, "But I'm not sorry, really."
I spent the rest of playtime sat at my desk with my hands on my head. It was an old fashioned desk, small and wooden with a lift up top so you could keep things inside it. I gradually became aware of the rest of my classmates watching my punishment through the window behind me. I quickly drew a picture of Helen, complete with stink lines, and a caption stating "I hate Helen, she smells" and stuck it on the inside of my desk lid, which I left conveniently open, so everyone could see it. Including the teachers on playground duty. I missed a lot of playtimes over the years.
It seems I could never just leave well enough alone. If it seems to me to be right, or just plain funny, I can't stop myself, regardless of the consequences. But how about you? If you could take a trip through time and see yourself as a child would you recognise the same character traits you display today?