If you wanted proof that the veneer of civilised behaviour in our capital masks a ready-to-erupt, white-hot magma flow of outrageous thoughts and beliefs, a glance at the latest Mumsnet debate to go viral should suffice. A contributor to the web forum calling herself Niloufes complained that her daughter’s babysitter wanted to raise her hourly rate from £6 to £7.20 — the minimum wage — when she is mostly “ sitting watching TV”. Niloufes appended the acronym AIBU to her post — Am I Being Unreasonable?
A torrent of opinions duly swept through Mumsnet of a magnitude not seen since the heady days of 2012 when regular user Sara Crewe asked if it was weird that she and her partner had a “post-sex clean-up area” by the bed including a “penis beaker” for “temporary cleaning/dunking”.
Today as in 2012, the responses were polarised. Some pointed out to Niloufes that the babysitter was not just a couch potato but a “surrogate parent”, there for all eventualities or emergencies that might befall her infant charge. Others took a purist free-market approach, suggesting in effect that while the babysitter had a right to set her own rate, Niloufes had the equal right to opt for the cheapest possible childcare. An impoverished Syrian refugee would probably do it for £5 an hour, surely? Maybe even £3? Or maybe just for the chance to sit somewhere warm and watch telly?
What’s most interesting though is the attention it has thrown on the Mumsnet-generated word AIBU. It is such a perfect London coinage, a sort of figleaf of civility offered up before we let rip the terrible thoughts that run through our minds as we slog through the urban jungle.
Another example on Mumsnet is “AIBU to think that homeless people should be grateful if someone gives them food”. A third poster asks if she is being unreasonable to find the clean-eating Hemsley sisters deeply annoying, to which the answer surely is YANBU — you are not being unreasonable.
AIBU is the London equivalent of “Am I alone in thinking…?”, the phrase deployed by swivel-eyed country types when writing to the Telegraph. Here at the Source, we have our own list of dark thoughts that regularly march through our minds, desperate for an airing. AIBU in thinking you will share some of them…?
1. AIBU… to think that people should pay the NHS for treating lifestyle-related conditions?
Not just smoking- and drinking-related illnesses like lung cancer, emphysema and strokes, but sports injuries suffered by stupid middle-aged men playing five-a-side, sprains caused by high-heeled shoes, and gastric bands and other weight-loss treatments for fat greedy people. And while we’re at it, fat people should be charged for two seats on aeroplanes.
2. AIBU… to think that people who make commuting worse should be penalised?
Failure to remove a rucksack on a crowded Tube or give up a seat to someone in more need should result in a £1 fine docked direct from an Oyster or credit card when the miscreant swipes out. Standing on the wrong side of an escalator? A £5 fine.
Only remembering at the barriers that you need to swipe out, and fumbling through EVERY SINGLE POCKET to find the aforementioned Oyster or credit card? That’ll be £25, rising by a further £5 for each subsequent offence until you bloody LEARN. Come on, the facial recognition software must exist to make this possible.
And while we’re at it, those who carry large bottles of water, huge bunches of keys, hammers etc through airport security should be barred from their flight, then from all flights if they reoffend. And 10 per cent should be docked from the estates of people who kill themselves under Tube trains for the SHEER BLOODY INCONVENIENCE they cause.
3. AIBU… to think there should be a set of compulsory rules on tipping?
If you are supposed to tip a black-cab driver, why not an Uber driver? If you tip a hairdresser, what about a masseur? And if you tip a masseur, what about a chiropodist, dentist or proctologist, who undoubtedly deal with ickier bits of your body? Why do we tip waiting staff rather than chefs, and what about barmen? Can’t we crowdsource a set of rules on who to tip and how much and just stick to it?
4. AIBU… to think that politicians should be given an electric shock to the genitals when they talk about “solving the housing crisis”?
The housing crisis is a direct result of the policies of successive governments since Margaret Thatcher’s, which have reneged on the postwar promise that everyone should have a roof over their head, provided by the state if they can’t afford it themselves. The electric shock could be slightly reduced if, instead of using the word “crisis”, MPs referred to “our massive collective failure of political will”.
5. AIBU… to want a really loud klaxon to drown out difficult conversational topics?
Bathrooms for transgender people? BEEEP! The Israeli-Palestine situation? BEEEEEEEEP! Brexit? BEEEEEBEEEEBEEEEEEEEP!
6. AIBU… to think that noise pollution warrants retaliation?
Come on, it’s surely OK to ask anyone listening to music on a phone on public transport if they are too poor to afford headphones and offer them a 99p pair, as at least one brave-hearted columnist does. Similarly, it’s OK to shout “FORGOT YOUR HEARING AID DID YOU?” at people playing superloud grime in a car with the window wound down.
Those whose car alarms repeatedly and pointlessly go off should be photographed and shamed on Twitter, though I personally think that keying their doors and putting their windscreens in is too good for ’em.
7. AIBU… to think that tourists should pay to get into our free museums?
Not just foreigners, but those idiots from the North who also walk really slowly down Oxford Street and never wear coats.
8. AIBU… to secretly hope that smartphone zombie dawdling in front of me will walk smack into a lamp-post?
Or even into traffic?
9. AIBU… to want less choice?
Damn, this kushiyaki chicken skewer with deep-fried tofu is impressive, but do I have to put it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest AND Instagram? And eating this means I’m missing out on rainbow cronuts and Hawaiian poke tuna… How many festivals are on this summer? And oh, bloody hell, Romeo and Juliet starting Lily James opens at the Garrick tonight. Do I really have to watch Versailles when I haven’t caught up on Broad City or Game of Thrones or Veep or Preacher on Amazon Prime? And AIBU to have been glad that Love, Nina was rubbish, so I didn’t have to watch it? In other words, AIBU to hate FOMO?
10. AIBU… to want to see less of my bae?
You know, he/she is lovely but he/she does that breathing thing, and the thing with the earwax, and sometimes I would just really like to be on my OWN. And while we’re at it, I’d often rather play Candy Crush than have sex…
11. AIBU… to think that because of the poor air quality and soaring house prices and the austerity and the library closures and the threat of terrorism and the stress that it might, actually, be quite nice to move out of London?
Whoa, wait, that really is unreasonable.