All the questions; none of the answers

I’VE been writing these columns for two years. That’s about 100,000 words. I don’t know why I bother really.

I mean, I haven’t changed the world or anything. It’s a lot less words than there are in the Bible, which makes them lighter to carry about with you.

But no one is carrying my columns around with them, marvelling over the wisdom they contain.

That’s probably why someone called me a wanker in the letters column last week.

It’s all right though. I’ve been called worse. Indeed, you have only to read the name that was chosen for this bloody column to see that I am used to insults.

At school — where they could find something lavatorial to do even with a name like Cholmondeley-Smythe — they divided Pearce in half, called me Pee-Arse, and wet themselves laughing. So wanker is probably all right. I suppose.

But it makes you take stock. I mean, at least the kids at school knew me. When a complete stranger unerringly identifies your shortcomings you have to take it seriously.

It isn’t as if I’ve solved the mystery of Life, the Universe and Everything.

All I’ve done is pose some of the questions. Like why is the third drawer down always full of junk? And why do mossies get beamed into a parallel universe the second your hand closes around them?

But I’ve never come up with any answers, and that’s want people want. Not the questions – the answers. And I don’t have any.

All I can offer is that it’s all right to be a complete failure. Indeed, you can even be a success at being a failure. It takes almost as much effort as being a success at being a success (so if you try to fail and you succeed – which have you done?).

It’s okay to belong to a dysfunctional family and fight with your partner. It’s okay to want to beat the check-out girl with a frozen chicken and to wipe out the whole of Queensland Transport purely on the basis of the total incompetence of its telephone answering system.

No doubt there’s a book out there (or a columnist) that can teach you to love the check-out girl and Queensland Transport and how to manage your negative emotions.

Don’t listen to them. Before you know it you’ll be like one of those creatures in a Jehovah’s Witness brochure, where everyone walks around in togas smiling complacently and the lamb lies down with the lion (even if it doesn’t get much sleep).

They’ll have sucked out your personality and replaced it with a pink pavlova.

If there’s one joy in getting older it’s the unchallengeable right to be short-tempered, intolerant, impatient and an irrational wanker.

I told my wife a reader has called me a wanker. She wanted to know if I knew the reader’s name and address.

“Oh, don’t worry,” I loftily. “You have to be able to take criticism if you want to write the stuff I write.”

“It wasn’t that,” she said. “I just thought they might want to start a club.”