Friday, August 26, 2011

Bad manners and Colin Cotterill: Whom would you kill?

Colin Cotterill has, like me, fantasized about killing off people with bad manners. In my case, the victims include the slouching youth who blasts music in the subway and the self-important lawyer bellowing into his cell phone on the Paoli local to the Main Line. Here's a post I made in 2009 about Cotterill's Aging Disgracefully, along with a question to readers.
***
"Hilda knew the lass would be making people's lives a misery when she was sixty. She'd decided then and there to make an example of her."
The perp/protagonist of "Gran Larceny" is a senior citizen, which is the point of Colin Cotterill's Ageing Disgracefully, a collection of short stories about "murderers, bank robbers, practical jokers, serial killers, perverts and just plain liars, all of whom are old enough to know better."

She also shares a trait with the killer in Ken Bruen's Calibre: She targets people with bad manners.

(It is just coincidence that I am trapped in the Pen & Pencil Club with a roomful of a) flacks and political operatives who [though it's redundant to say so] are b) unnecessarily loud and are also listening to c) reggae.)

Who would you bump off, rob or set up because of their rudeness, thoughtlessness, lack of consideration and other offensive carrying on? How would you do it?
***
Colin Cotterill will be part of my “CRANKY STREETS: WHAT'S SO FUNNY ABOUT MURDER?” panel on Saturday, Sept. 17, 11:30 a.m.-12:30, at Bouchercon 2011.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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34 Comments:

Anonymous John H said...

uh? my mother-in-law?

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I am torn between curiosity for details and a desire to preserve family harmony. I'll opt for the latter.

I will say that Cotterill's and Bruen's choices of victims proobably let many readers fulfill vicarious fantasies.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

I could, of course, specify what I risibly refer to as my family, plus a few other borderline criminal or collectively psychotic organizations, and a few mavericks and loners ripe for Nemesis who have crossed my path. But if we are particularly concerned with rudeness, thoughtlessness, lack of consideration and other offensive carrying on, I should have to say just about everyone. We have in society two measures of the truth of this. One, the way people drive. Two, the way people use email.

December 24, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

It we're talking about rude, thoughtless, and inconsiderate, I'm with Mr. Dukenfield. Anyoune under the age of seven is fair game.

The fact that the flacks and the political operatives (perhaps we could call them polyps for short) were listening to reggae only raised them in my estimation, which I suspect was not your intention. Now, if it had been Celine Dion I'd happily send you a few hollow points to help take care of them.

The style terrorist in me was offended by the peculiar relationship (if their was one) between the a, b, and c in the bit in parentheses, but I suppose we have to make allowances for a man working in the incongenial surroundings of the P&P Club. We should probably consider it an achievement that you were able to write at all.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger seana said...

As I am just about to go to work on the 24th of December in a place where throngs will be arriving to do their harried last minute shopping, I think it best if I do not indulge in this pleasant Festivus pastime. But have fun!

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, what about the way people use cell phones and the way they listen to music?

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I am glad you stopped short of incitement. In any case, there have been political figures whose bad manners -- the subject at hand, after all -- were the least of their sins.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Solo, that's the second invocation of W.C. Fields on this blog in recent weeks. (There is a plaque to his memory on Market Street here in Philadelphia.)

The flacks went on to listen to bad Beatles songs and Johnny Cash and June Carter's peculiar rendition of "It Ain't Me Babe" as well. Reggae at its worst can be dopey and repetitive (and I don't mean rhythmically hypnotic or blazing with a starkly honest lyrical simplicity, either). I'll admit that the surroundings colored my opinion of the music. The sight of these offensively self-important loudmouths bobbing their chins to "Get Up, Stand Up" was wholly unnecessary given that the jukebox contained Chet Baker, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and some fine local jazz musicians as well.

I plead guilty to constructing a series, the syntactical diversity of whose elements may inhibit easy reading. One is a subject, one is an adjectival phrase, the third an object. The several uses to which I put the humble parenthesis mark was no help either. I shall strive foe greater clarity in the future.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, may you have a peaceful day.

Perhaps I ought not to mention that the perpetrator in Colin Cotterill's story is incited to a criminal career by the rudeness of a bank teller's rudeness to the ten customers waiting in line for service.

December 24, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter

Here's a link to a reggae song that I hope wouldn't set your teeth on edge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ8nTjDhkfI

As we say in these parts, Nollaig shona dhuit

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Aw, hell, I like "One Love/People Get Ready." It was just the company that soured me on the song I heard last night. Hmm, why does reggae sometimes get on my nerves? I shall have to think about this.

I'm surprised no one took me to task for my comment on Johnny Cash, June Carter and "It Aint' Me, Babe." That odd rendition deserves further discussion.

"Little Cottage in Negril" harks back to reggae's soul roots. Thanks for the clip, and a Merry Christmas to you, too.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Heavens, Peter, you are right there. I should have included the cell phone especially, and put it at the top of the list. My antipathy to that device is deep.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

On a tolerant day, I adopt the guns-don't-kill-people;-people-kill-people argument: It's not the devices, it's the ill-mannered slobs who bellow into them without having the courtesy to lower their voices. Other days, I just say randomly booby-trap one in ten cell phones worldwide, make sure everyone in the world knows this, then let them decide if it's worth the risk.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Let me weigh in on the cell phone discussion by offering a perspective from an American campus where I teach.

The use of cell phones by students is ungovernable, and courtesies are irrelevant. Neither classrooms nor lectures are sufficient to deter mindless students (i.e., the majority) from covertly texting and engaging in all sorts of other electronic chicanery.

There is no way of turning back the clock on what I see as a generational shift in sensibility and respect. Almost everyone under the age of 30 is addicted to cell phone technology; almost everyone over 60 (myself included) cannot understand the addiction (and, in fact, I despise the cell phone behaviors that can no longer be mitigated or corrected--i.e., we are doomed to a very different "brave new world" in which cell phones have chipped away at civility and social responsibility.

Well, that should be sufficient as my curmudgeonly rant against cell phones. All of what I am saying is not quite in the Christmas spirit, but I say simply this: with respect to cell phones and their rude, addicted users, I side with Scrooge and consider the entire annoying issue to be a humbug.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Correction:
I amend my final word from "humbug" to the more relevant phrase, "a provocation for murder."

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not just murder but mass murder, I should think.

My eye-opener on cell phones came the day I saw and heard a young man talking moderately loudly on his phone in a book shop while his companion browsed. Needless to say, the daggers I stared at the young man had no effect. When he got off the phone, he resumed his conversation with his companion in a voice not just more suited to a public place, but unusually quiet.

To the extent that cell phones encourage even otherwise polite people to act in public as if they were in private, they are undeniably a curse, and they represent a retreat from civility, consideration, respect and responsibility. To say so, though, is unoptimistic and therefore un-American, so my feelings are not widely shared in this country, at least not openly.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger R. T. said...

Perhaps you are like me: I neither own nor want to own a cell phone (and this fact shocks almost everyone I encounter on campus and around town); my personal resistance to cell phone ownership and usage amounts to my own small protest against the deterioration of civility and common sense in society.

December 24, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Times are bad. Children disobey their parents and everyone is using a cell phone.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You just think cell phones are good because when people use them, they can't be reading those books that everyone is writing.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I can well understand why some people feel they need cell phones. I myself have, on two occasions, found that having a phone would have been a convenience. But anyone who uses a cell phone in public ought to be conscious of his or her surroundings, and if you think I think there's any chance that will happen ...

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

What I wonder is how we all got conditioned to answer the damned telephone at the expense of face-to-face conversation in the first place.

I mean, okay, pre-answering machine there was the risk that the person calling wouldn't call back, but how realistic was that thought?

Pavlov and Alexander Graham Bell were in cahoots.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Philip said...

Linkmeister is surely right -- there is an extraordinary degree of conditioning involved in these things. I do not have a car (though nor do I live in Los Angeles), have never had a credit card, nor a portable music system (if that's what they're called), find the ipod especially horrifying, and would sooner chew glass than own a cell phone. I walk nigh on everywhere, only buy if I have the money to or in hand, regard listening to music -- classical, at least -- as a process and experience that requires particular conditions not to be found sitting on a metro train, and am totally at a loss as to why I might want to talk to anyone at all while walking down the street or dining in a restaurant. And yet, hordes are there who cannot conceive of life without these things, who sometimes are literally fearful at the thought of being without them, and who do not understand that the answer to the question, "Whatever would we do if we didn't have the...?" is "You would get along just fine, and some of us would get along a lot finer."

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, it might be nice to ecraser le téléphone, but that would mean tearing down superhighways because people would have to live closer to where they work. This would not be economically viable.

As far as the ring that once summoned us to the telephone, how much better that was than customized ring tones. I guess I can think of better ways of expressing my indviduality than programming a phone to blare a different pop song in a public space for every person that calls me.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

"Whatever would we do if we didn't have the...?" Whatever you did two years ago, before the ... was invented.

I dunno ... in the 1960s, didn't people celebrate their supposed liberation from big business? Today we celebrate the increasing thrall in which media and big business hold us.

December 24, 2009  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I'm sure I speak for Brian when I say our neighbors. The ones behind us.

December 25, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, do you even have neighbours behind you?

December 25, 2009  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

LOL - yes, the ones behind our back yard. With the big black dog that barks all the time. I don't mind the dog, though - at least, as long as he isn't barking before 5 am.

I will say that I've heard a lot of talk of bumping off former spouses lately. Not from Brian. Just saying.

December 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

When the dog does not bark at night is when you should grow suspicious. You appear to feel about dogs the way I do on a tolerant day about cell phones. And can one train a dog to attack an ex-spouse?

December 26, 2009  
Anonymous I.J.Parker said...

Misanthropy is my second nature. But mostly I just look at people who irritate me with cellphones or pants hanging below their underwear, or tatooed bodies squeezing out between their too-tight clothes. Occasionally someone makes me very angry. I had a boss once! Wished him dead and gone every day. Heart attack. He was the type.
These days my anger is directed at traditional publishers who grab all the profits from our books without doing anything to promote them. Yes, you've guessed it: I have some of those contracts that give me only 15 % from e-rights. That's going to change! I'm on the war path and have started self-publishing with a trilogy set in 12th century Japan. It's doing well. Much better than my traditionally published Akitada novels. Revenge!

August 27, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, it's easier to ignore visual stimuli than auditory ones. I'll grant them their public displays of underwear and fat if they just turn their damned music down.

I have wished colorful plagues upon a former owner of my newspaper. I have never taken action as contructive as you are on your current war path. Best of luck!

August 27, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I do not use a cell phone except if my land line isn't working, which does happen as the phone company does not really care about its landline business.

I am amazed at the way some people [mis]use their cell phones, discussing personal topics loudly with others around, dialing while they're in the midst of a conversation with others, non-stop usage as if it were life-and-death, etc.

I say "Bah, humbug" to it all.

And didn't W.C. Fields say, "I once went to Philadelphia, but it was closed." (or a reasonable facsimile of this.)

September 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philadelphia is, in fact, proud of W.C. Fields. A historic marker in front of the old Strawbridge Clothier department store on Market Street notes that Fields worked there when he was "a lad."

September 10, 2011  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

W.C. would have had a "field day" with cell phone [mis]use these days.

September 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

He would have knocked those loudmouths in the head with his cane.

September 10, 2011  

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