Peter Feely tries to put his first world problems into context.
I recently heard the sad news that my pet cat had died. Like other animal lovers, I had associated his personality with human traits and characteristics. Aware that such behaviour is akin to crazy cat women who sleep in bed with their moggies, treating them in the same deified way as the ancient Egyptians, I’ve always endeavoured to keep my emotions in check. I reminded myself that felines are linguistically unsophisticated, cannot read and have far fewer responsibilities than the average adult; so they are unlikely to share our level of consciousness. Admittedly, there are also similarities: as creatures we’re both historically inclined to vicious entertainment – if you’ve ever laughed at anyone falling over you’re guilty of the same malicious satisfaction a cat feels when it corners its defenceless prey.
Obviously, there are also things which your average feline performs superiorly to the human race. Cats can jump quite high, most are able to negotiate tight spaces with more finesse than ourselves and they have very quick reflexes. In the case of my deceased pet, despite being consciously inferior, the aspect of our psyche which we are criticised for sharing was a slight sense of entitlement. In the case of the cat, I blamed his genetics – the way his face was arranged projected an expression of disdain, paired with disconcertingly searching and intelligent eyes. In my case, I blame Dubai. Recently, I’ve heard people allude to ‘first world problems’. By contextualising our concerns next to the inconveniences of famine and war, it does make you feel daft.
And thus here, I’ve become a little unrealistic about what I expect. In the UK, if I walk into a bar and sit down, much to my annoyance, nothing happens. Waiting for a cab is now something that needs to resolve itself in a few minutes. The most alarming example I’ve encountered recently though was an individual’s irritation that their valet had the audacity to change the preset radio channel in her car. Pitted against the problems of sourcing clean drinking water and trying to sleep with the worry that your village might be pillaged, my fury at being unable to find enough reception to get the map app on my phone to work, or the inconvenience at having to wipe the steam off my Ray Bans every time I leave a building is embarrassing. I am aware of the ridiculousness of my discontented sense of entitlement and I intend to work on it. Yet, like my cat, I have one of those faces that can portray a sense of arrogant superiority, when all I’m probably thinking about is the time I saw someone fall over.