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Peter Corris, AuthorWhen the Editors of the NRB invited me to write a column I asked them what they wanted me to write about.  ‘Anything,’ I was told; I could be a grumpy old man and complain about things if I wanted to.

I haven’t done much complaining so far, other than about poor writing, but now the impulse is on me and I’ve compiled a list of things I actively and strongly dislike:

‘Somethink’, ‘nothink’ and ‘haitch’. I know the Macquarie Dictionary accepts ‘haitch’ as a dialect variant but I disagree. It’s incorrect and ugly. Pronouncing ‘ing’ as ‘ink’ is indefensible.

2 ‘Have a nice day’,  ‘How’s your day been?’ and ‘Thank you for your time’. These are insincere Americanisms we can do without. I want to reply to ‘How’s your day been?’ with ‘None of your f….ing business’, but I don’t. Recently I took about two seconds to tell someone at the door I wasn’t interested in what he was hawking and was thanked for my time. The people who train (are they trained?) door-to-door representatives should teach them to adjust to circumstances.

3 People who speak on mobile phones while dealing with shopkeepers; shopkeepers who speak on mobile phones and/or eat while dealing with customers, especially me.

4 ‘Eight items or less’ signs in supermarkets. It would take only one extra letter to correct this to ‘fewer’. And I resent people who go through ahead of me with ten items or more.

5 Hairdressers who chat while working. I can’t recall ever having a worthwhile conversation under these circumstances. Happily, I’ve found a way of limiting it. When approaching the chair I pointedly take both my hearing aids out and put them in my pocket. This usually results in the barber limiting remarks to asking me how I want my hair cut.

6 Drivers who stop across light-controlled and other crossings, obliging pedestrians to skirt around them. Some have the decency to look embarrassed but most do not. I believe cameras should be installed to capture this offence and heavy fines should be imposed.

7 Banks and Post Offices (or Post Shops as they are now offensively known) that don’t have enough staff on duty with a queue growing. In my impatience I’ve been known to call out ‘More hands on deck!’ to the incomprehension of everyone under 60 and the embarrassment of everyone else.

8 Being asked ‘Can I help you?’ when obviously simply browsing in shops, and being utterly unable to find anyone to help in places like Target and KMart.

9 Plastic clothes pegs that disintegrate under the impact of weather and wooden ones that rot. I see no way around this problem – metal ones would rust and soil clothes. Research is needed.

Of course I dislike a lot of other things, such as the charges banks impose for using ATMs, experimental writing, both rugby codes and soccer, conservative politics and all forms of religion, but this’ll do for now.

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