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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Stress-o-meter, day three

It seems things are worse than we expected. We thought it might be just the trains and the weather that were winding you up.

But as today's Stress-o-meter reveals, there's dozens of other infuriating factors that are causing the nation's collective nerves to fray.

Friday is the last day to register your discontent. Can you push the dial up higher? Don't delay, tell us your last minute Christmas stress stories.

TODAY'S TRAVEL STRESS
Donna: "GNER's holding music drives me insane, and the pause before the message 'Thank you for holding' gets up hopes of getting a real person."

Andreas: "I've had a scooter for 5 months, never had a problem. This morning I went to go to work, scooter had been nicked. Back on the dire tube."

Chris: "My wife was stuck for TWO AND A QUARTER HOURS trying to leave a Reading multi-story car park."

Paul: "On my motorcycle today I almost ran over a ladder (yes, a ladder) on the M23. So I stopped on the hard shoulder and called the police to alert them to this. The person who answered the phone was very short with me saying they were 'already aware of the problem' and promptly hung up!"

JUST ABOUT DOES IT
Shaun: "I owe thousands of pounds, I work ridiculous hours for little money and I cannot stand the general public."

GET THEE TO A SCULLERY
Cinderella: "My boss keeps getting in late and leaving early because of going to Christmas parties - he's been out of the office for two hours now while he "nips" home to get a change of clothes for a party tonight - but he tells us off for being five minutes late."

CALMER POLICE
Stuart: "I'm ridiculously unstressed. My manager's comments about stress were, 'Don't get stressed, get fat'. In the words of Radiohead: fitter; Happier; more productive..."

NOW THIS ONE'S A BIT SPOOKY (IF IT'S TRUE)
Philip: "I'm about to become unemployed; I've just returned to the town of my birth; I'm living in rented accommodation; there's no room at the inn (well I got chucked out of the pub - does that count?); my wife is pregnant (and her middle name is Mary); and it's Christmas."

IT'S WINTER, MARK
Mark: "It seems to be constantly dark just lately. Now I know that it is due to the seasons but going to work when it's dark and then coming home while it is still dark I just find really depressing."

A BIT OF HORSEPLAY
Hywel: "I placed a 50 each way wager on a horse at 9/1. It came in first, but due to an error on the part of the bookmaker (they had incorrectly priced the odds) they voided the bet. Result - the 560 they owe me will not be honoured. Bookie scum."

SUPERMARKET WEEP
Julie: "It's the supermarket. Why do people take their children... WHY! But I am calm."

Judy: "Horror of horrors the supermarkets are shut for ONE WHOLE DAY on Christmas day. I must rush out and spend four hours fighting other people off so I can stuff my trolley to overflowing."

AVAILABLE FOR WORK, SOON
Jeff: "After three months stressing it out in a dot.com I had a chat with the CEO at the Xmas party - trouble is I can't remember what I said!! I've still got a job I think...."

THAT'S RIGHT, BLAME SOMEONE. ANYONE
Tanya: "It's not much fun to hear all these complaints and moans of others. It makes me feel nervous and stressed in the end."

HOW NICE
Louise: "My stress level has just gone down two points - I laughed out loud at some of the other people's comments. I now realise that I will have a Christmas - whether the work gets done or not - so it's not worth worrying about. Thanks for the therapy."

UNHAPPY RETURNS
Andrew: "I work behind at a returns counter at a large store. What gives other people the right to give people like me a load of grief? All I ask for is politeness, but this is something 90% of customers cannot achieve. I have no sympathy for their pathetic stressed out lives when they are giving out as much as they get."

THINK OF YOURSELF AS A STRUGGLING AUTHOR
Clare: "I am quitting my job to do something more rewarding. I work in IT and have been in the thick of the dot.com revolution. With company closures etc, nothing I have coded in the last two-and-a-half years will ever see the light of day again."

ARGH, THAT IS THE MOST ANNOYING THING
Ruth: "To all my fellow human beings out there - a few words of warning - DO NOT DO YOUR XMAS SHOPPING DOWN OXFORD ST. Why do people sometimes just stop dead in their tracks? Do they not realise that they have about 50,000 people behind them trying to head up to Oxford Circus?"

NEXT TIME, STAY IN BED
Paul: "Four years ago my girlfriend left me a week before Christmas. Three years ago I had an argument with my new girlfriend's parents on Christmas day. Got thrown out the house. Two years ago and two days before Christmas I was hit in the eye by a full speed golf ball. Last year my dog died eight days before Christmas. Yesterday a car turned out in front of me and knocked me off my new motorcycle injuring my leg. Bike a write-off."

DISCLAIMER: THE BBC TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY...
David: "Take time out to steal from a small child's advent calendar, or be rude to carol singers, and you're sure to feel better."

SELF-REFERENTIAL STRESS
Elliott: "Ironically I'm publishing a book on stress. The authors of a section of it have missed their deadline. So I can now look forward to starting 2001 running around like an insect with an azure posterior."

SMILE, IT'S CHRISTMAS
Paul Jeffrey: "If one more person says 'Smile, it's Christmas' to me, I'm gonna deck them. I want to be 10 again. Christmas was fun then.

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20 Dec 00 | UK
Stress-o-meter, day two
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