I’m getting to be a professional grump. Which is not something I want to be.

They tell me an increasingly short temper is a sign of stress and trauma in my life. So – in theory – I probably shouldn’t worry about it. But my chances of decreasing that ‘stress and trauma’ are pretty slim at the moment. And I don’t like being the person who loses his rag at the slightest provocation.

Admittedly our current lords and masters don’t help. When one of them turns up on TV and starts spinning the standard party line about – well, pretty much anything – I find myself yelling abuse at them within about 30 seconds. It’s taken them twelve years to completely wreck the country and leave it as a broken caricature of a place I loved and cherished.

Now? I keep being reminded of the small-minded, ‘little England’ mentality that broke my mother’s spirit during the war. When she, more than anyone, wanted only to fight the aggressive fascism that is rearing its ugly head once again – even here.

So at least I have an excuse for those outbursts – though I’ll confess my fuse gets shorter by the day, and my outbursts get more vitriolic by the hour. (I’ve long ago run out of decent Anglo-Saxon and Norse cuss words. At this rate I’ll have to invent some more…)

Less excusable are my outbursts in the car. (They’re also, potentially, riskier. I don’t want to be the kind of driver who has an accident because he can’t maintain his cool.) My complaints about other road users are usually at grumble rather than rant level, but I’m responding less well to suggestions from the passenger seat.

I can’t excuse my outbursts, but I may be able to explain them. I think they occur because I focus very intensely on my surroundings when I’m driving. So I’m already tensed up in anticipation of a hidden danger ahead – or even behind me. (Especially given the way some people respond to my – doubtless very irritating – adherence to speed limits…)

Even so, poor Rosemary is now equally tensed up, because she’s worried that anything she says could trigger me.

That has to stop. I need to keep my temper. For multiple reasons…

Consider the etymology of the word ‘temper’. In Latin, temperare meant ‘to mingle, or restrain’. The noun ‘temper’ originally referred to a proportionate or balanced mixture of elements or qualities – as in, for instance, correctly balancing the four ‘humours’ believed to affect physical and mental health.

But – of course – it also refers to correctly balancing the different metals for a cutting blade, to achieve both durability and sharpness. And I’m in a battle here.

I can’t afford to let my principal weapon – my positivity – lose its edge. I need my sword sharp and well-tempered.

So it’s time for a little anger management…