There's a lot of anger about. Yesterday morning in the corner store stubbly track-suit man came in for his 'Sun', saw a queue of three for the till and left his twenty pee on the counter. The Sri-Lankan checkout girl tried to give it back to him, motioning him to join the queue. Suddenly he exploded with rage; "I'm not f...ing queueing! You've got your money!" and stalked out. It woke us all up. It even woke the Nigerian security guard up.
In the office I caught a senior colleague, a man known for his equable temperament, kicking the photocopier, jammed with papers he needed for a meeting for which he was already late. The IT manager is having a breakdown and his PA fields phone calls with 'he's gone home sick' with increasing frequency; abusive emails have mushroomed recently as work pressures mount and the office systems are unequal to the task.
On the train last week, as a large baby buggy blocked much of the door zone during the rush hour, a professional thirty something bloke squeezing into the available space looked directly at the guilty mum and asked "Oh for f...s sake! How sensible is this?" to which there was no reply. We've all been harassed and inconvenienced by 'buggy rights' for years now, but this was the first time I'd heard anyone fight back.
This was also the week in which with my red pencil I'd removed £40k's worth of ludicrous self-indulgent crap from a construction drawing, bling geared only to the designer's portfolio photograph on completion, not to the client's needs or the prescriptive design brief I'd issued. The architect was incandescent with rage and sent me a very foolish email. I replied that I was perfectly willing to determine his contract immediately, and would he prepare a final fee account. Cue abject grovelling from his partners over the course of the afternoon.
In Tesco last week, bag-rationing led to a massive row three tills down. The store is apparently issuing each till with a box of free bags a day, and once these are gone customers are asked to pay 9p each for a 'bag for life'. An Afro-Carib granny wasn't standing for it. The supervisor was summoned. The manager was summoned. Her inspired invective against global warming brought a smile to my face.
At least another half a dozen minor incidents recently - queue rage, trolley rage, general impatience, people voicing things they don't usually voice - and I'm sensing there's an ascending general rage building up. The speed with which Old Holborn and Anna Racoon raised Nick's freedom money was driven by the anger of suffering smokers. In smoking shelters across London there's an inchoate anger against authority in general - 'the council', 'the government' or more often 'they', the 'they' that are the great grey indistinct suffocating presence of the State in one guise or another. The most popular rallying cry of the day is 'Get off our backs!', raising a heartfelt cheer of support whenever it's vocalised. If any party wants an election slogan, 'We'll get off your back' will win a few million new votes.
But it's not about party differences. That the three main parties are all the same is a truth universally acknowledged. Whenever politics is discussed there is absolute consensus that we loathe them all. Immigration is a running sore. Food inflation, less noticeable to those with mortgages enjoying low interest rates, has hit those on low or fixed incomes hard.
Neighbourhoods filled with boarded-up pubs as they are here, destined to be redeveloped as homes for immigrants by the hated Housing Associations, as they are here, are a popular provocation. There's no doubt that the white working class are the angriest, but the white middle class are close behind them. And our Afro-Carib population, the most assimilated of all the new Commonwealth cohorts, close behind them.
Targets of this anger are also inchoate; Muslims, Africans, East Europeans, the priviliged, bankers, the amorphous political class, the tax-wasters, those who make and enforce rules, 'they'.
Quite how this rage will manifest itself on 6th May I don't know.