...when I'm running. A list of things that irritate me generally would occupy far more than a single blog post. Even the patience of my devoted readers would not extend that far. No, this is very specifically the things that irritate me when I'm out running.
Mostly, it's people.
There are the people who walk along, heads down, eyes on their phones, completely oblivious to everything around them. The young man on Wednesday, occupying the centre-ground on a pavement more than wide enough for two, concentration fixed on his phone. As I drew near, his aimless feet meandered him even closer to the line I was running, forcing me off the pavement and onto the road, at which point he looked up and gazed at me in slack-jawed incomprehension. If I'd been less British I'd have said something cutting. Instead I said "tsk" inside my head and kept running.
There are people who walk along in a group - sometimes a family of four, all holding hands; sometimes a group of friends chattering away; sometimes a school party heading for the bus. This section of pavement is the worst in my village:
Yes, you're right, it's a huge pavement. There is easily space to fit four people side-by-side across this pavement. And it is here that I regularly meet four people side-by-side. And none of them step aside. They can see me coming, sometimes they even make eye contact, but they resolutely march on, families holding hands, friends busy comparing notes on whatever it is teenagers care about these days. And I'm forced to run in the road. Why? Why are people so rude? How hard is it to share public space in a civilised fashion?
There are people who shout things from cars. Yes, I'm a woman. Yes, I have breasts. Yes, I'm running. This is not worthy of comment. And even if it is worthy of comment, it's only worthy of the kind of comment you are welcome to make to yourself. Quietly. And no, shouting at me to run faster is not funny, or clever. It's particularly not entertaining when a 7(ish) year old winds down the window and shouts at me to run faster.
There are people who are listening to such loud music on their headphones that they don't hear me running up behind them, even with my elephantine footsteps. Nor do they hear me call out "excuse me!". No, once again, I have to divert onto the road to bypass the noise-o-philes. It's beginning to be a good thing I live in a quiet village, with the frequency I end up in the road.
There have been a couple of notable occasions when self-absorbed, lazy arses have decided that they don't want to walk the 20 yards from the official carpark into the local shop, and instead have decided to drive their obscene four-by-fours up onto the pavement to park. The pavement that I have been running on at the time. I have literally had to leap sideways to avoid being run over.
There are the dog walkers. Not the lovely ones who see me coming and make sure that their dog isn't in a position to either be freaked out by me, or to want to chase me. Not the ones who very kindly stop and hold their dogs (and to whom I always offer a heartfelt thank you). No, it's the ones I never see. The ones who leave their dog poo all over the path. I live opposite a delightful bridlepath. One that is so well-used by dog-walkers that the council have kindly provided a poo-bin:
That little red box? That's a poo-bin. And the council send a poo-collection van every week. What a great job! Poo-collection operative! However, given this provision, why does there have to be so much poo on the path?
It's a good thing that most people are quite nice. Other runners who offer that rueful smile of mutually acknowledged exhaustion, people whose music is quiet enough that they hear my laboured tread coming behind them and discreetly move to one side of the pavement, drivers who see that I'm heading towards crossing a side-road and wave me across so I don't need to break stride, the aforementioned dog walkers who keep their dogs calm and under control. It's everyone else that pisses me off.
Photographs purloined from Google Streetview.