SHEFFIELD, England / Sheffield Star / Columnists / August 27, 2010
PAUL LICENSE - Older they come, harder they learn
By Paul License
AS you get older you get slower. And not only in your actions.
You think less nimbly.
In many ways this is a good thing. You mull over things at length and as you ponder you weigh up the options.
No foolishly rushing in where angels fear to tread.
And the conclusion you eventually reach is a result of well-rounded consideration of all the options.
Not everybody may agree with what you decided. But it is your very own conclusion. Something to cherish and champion.
However, the slowing thought process can have its drawbacks.
Recently, we were introduced to a new computer system.
I was the star pupil in the little group of us who were tutored in its niceties. But that was only because I was bluffing.
I followed the instruction and copied the process on the screen and achieved the desired effect.
But minutes later (let's be honest, seconds later) I had forgotten most of it.
And when the chaps teaching us how to use the system moved on to the next section of our lesson I could remember none of what went before.
And, boy, did I grow tetchy.
Angry even. If there had been some raw meat handy I would have downed it in one gulp. That's not like me, really. I am quite easy-going, on the whole.
But when the red mist of frustration overcomes you, it is time to watch out - or make concessions.
And I think that's what we all ought to do in the case of local MP Denis MacShane.
A nicer bloke you couldn't wish to meet.
But he showed the dark side of his nature when he was being shown the intricacies of the House of Parliament's new computerised expenses claiming procedure.
He is the only one to be named but it seems a number of MPs also felt the need to let off steam when the details of the new system became too much for them to follow.
They swore, shouted, slammed things on the table. In fact, they showed themselves up.
But who wouldn't?
Generally speaking they are all of a mature nature.
And, as I say, the older they come, the harder they take on board new ideas.
There is a school of thought which reckons that we should be calm and mild at all times.
But life is not like that. And when you are being shown something which is simply not sinking in, then I know I would submit to the temptation to let off steam. I know that because I've been there and I've let off that steam.
So let's be a little bit more charitable towards poor Denis MacShane.
He is at the wrong side of 60 for all this hi-tech malarky, for goodness sake. And I don't mean that unkindly.
But I'd like to think that the Whitehall team who were instructing MPs in the new system gave as much back.
It would have been great for a brow-beaten civil servant to turn to a petulant parliamentarian and fire back an equally rough and ready string of four letter words.
How would the MPs have responded to that?
I'd like to think that they would have taken it on the chin.
But then the civil sevants wouldn't have got a box of chocolates out of Denis The Menace MacShane if they had, for that's how the gentleman member for Rotherham said sorry for his outburst of bad manners.
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