Tuesday 23 November 2021

Little Guide To Pet Peeves (Pt 6 - out and about)

I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires and so here I am again, hoping to finish the series before Crimbo.  This was all written before Covid but since 'opening up', maybe a lot of it has become relevant again.


I’m sure ‘charity muggers’ are unanimously loathed, which is maybe why they’ve largely disappeared from our streets. But at their height, charities would send out over-zealous keen young things to jump in your path or dance in front of you with their clipboards and silly comments. In an aggressive market economy, even charities felt they had to up their game and profits with a sound business plan and a decent pension plan for the CEOs. So out went the humble tin which volunteers shook with the obligatory badges to pin on your lapel to show you’d donated. In came the chuggers with their clipboards and contracts for you to sign since it was no longer enough for you to give one-off donations. I had young men dancing in front of me telling me how nice I looked today (believing flattery would get them everywhere - it didn’t.) I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to mess with however chirpy or good- looking the boy might be. But I think the booby prize has to go to the young girl who shouted half way up the high street as I was advancing, ‘hello lady in green’. What was this supposed to achieve? A sense of flattery that I’d been especially selected from my fellow shoppers or one of embarrassing me into submission? Probably a bit of both but it achieved neither. I scowled into Peacocks to avoid said offending chugger, annoyed with myself for not having a ready retort

Formal Forms of Address

This is the flip side of the informal and nauseating terms of address such as the ubiquitous hun (see Pt 1). But it also irks me to be called Miss Rigby. It’s not just the ultra formality - and, sometimes insincere, politeness - it stems from an archaic time when a woman’s title was largely determined by her marital status. Of course that’s why Ms was invented - to disguise whether you were a Miss or a Mrs. But the pronunciation is always cringey and none more so in a situation when someone asks ‘is that Miss or Mrs?’ forcing you onto the back foot when you mumble in reply ‘Well muzz actually’. It makes you feel like a fussy feminist purist rather than the casual affable laidback person that was in conversation moments before. And leaving off your title is no guarantee of someone not supplying you with one anyway.

Years ago, tired of my local Nat West Bank addressing me as Miss Rigby every time I did a transaction, I got the title removed from my account in the hope that they would dispense with the formalities. But no. They still addressed me as Miss Rigby!

They do it because they can, they’ve got your name and your number – and I didn’t know what to do to stop them. But then I discovered a way of getting my own back. Thank you, Mr Parker. Much obliged to you Mr Parker (Nosy by any chance?) Well, they always had their name tags with first and last name on their lapels.

In the end I had to make a point of saying ‘please, call me Kate’ - which to their credit they did once I’d pointed it out to them. But I’d rather they didn’t call me anything or at least asked me how I liked to be known!

Untrusting Cashiers

Maybe you’ve also had this where you go to the till with an item and it’s not got a price on. The assistant at the till then asks you if you remember how much said item was and you do, you remember clearly, you can visualise all the other same items with their price tag on, it’s just that you happened to pick the one where it somehow got detached or maybe it was never priced in the first place. You tell the assistant that it was 1.75 without wavering and she still rings the bell and calls someone to check the flipping price!

People spreading their germs about in public.

Have people never heard of the saying coughs and sneezes spread diseases? And fair enough, you might expect it in a doctor’s surgery waiting room but what about those martyrs who stagger into work, thinking they’re being heroic and and then infecting the whole damned office with their horrible lurgey? It would have been so much better if they’d just had the common sense to stay off work because infecting half the work force isn’t impressing the boss, especially if he or she is laid up with it for three weeks as a result.

Then there are shops where a snuffling assistant hands you your loose change, the same hand which nanoseconds before handled a snot-filled tissue. This requires the hand gel on hand to smear liberally over your palms before you’ve even left the shop. Or cafes and restaurants. If you’re anything like me you will leave as soon as you get wind of a sniffle or a cough because the last thing you want are those nasty droplets breeding all over your Danish pastry. Or on the trains where there is some oblivious yoof - usually male - sneezing and coughing in the seat in front of you. You catch him using his bare wrist to wipe his snitch. These are probably the worst offenders. They just accept that colds are a part of life and a small inconvenience or price to put up with for that three day music festival camping in a wet field. In the presence of these types my seat is promptly vacated and if I’m lucky I will find another well clear of a non germ-free adolescent.

As mentioned above, this was first penned in pre lockdown and I'm still hopeful that some people have become more aware since we 'opened up' the economy and society post vaccination, but there are many others who many seem to have reverted to type!

Please feel free to share yours in the comments section below. 

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Little Guide To Pet Peeves: Part 5 (On TV)

I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires and so here I am again, bothering you with another! 

This one will probably only apply to a certain age group who still watch TV in a traditional fashion as opposed to live-streaming or catchup) but then adverts and usual irritants may still apply. 

Playing favourite or nostalgic songs in adverts 

I’m very careful to play my songs sparingly because overplaying can kill that nostalgia. Intros or select phrases of Johnny Cash’s This Thing Called Love, Boston’s More Than A Feeling, Boo Radley’s Wake Up Boo and Stevie Wonder’s For Once In My Life have all been subjected to prime time endless repeats at some point it the past few years or so. So much so, in fact, that I feared it would give me less than a feeling, or would feel this thing called hate whenever hearing Johnny Cash or Stevie Wonder for one too many times in my life. So wake up you advertisers, please, and pick on songs that we all hate already or perhaps some anodyne frothy tune that can lend life to your product.


For the last few years I have called it The Beast (short for Beastenders). It is the worst kind of sound pollution. The number of beasts that populate it several times a week are many and frequent. But the one who epitomises it most has to be Phil Mitchell: white, male, round red face, thuggy, speaking in husky threatening tones in words of one syllable. But the female version is just as grating. She is epitomised by Kat Slater. She shrieks in impossible decibel levels at anything and anybody in TV cockney. In fact, they all prefer to bellow at each other. Peggy Mitchell was one such screecher (pictured below). So why am I even writing about it? Surely I can just give the horror show of dark depressing themes and characters the widest berth imaginable? Not so easy if you share a house with a loved one who is hooked. And my computer just happens to be in the same room as our TV. 

Update: then we chanced upon these problem-solvers called headphones and now peace reigns supreme once more - at least in my earholes anyway. 

Second update: the old TV has been relegated upstairs so now no need even for headphones!

Mrs Brown’s Boys

When I first saw the trailer to this whenever it was I thought ‘that looks funny’ in the manner of Father Ted being funny. Wrong! It very quickly disappointed. A guy dressed as an old washer woman, come on! It’s hardly fresh, is it? It’s so 1970s. I can’t stand that cringy little laugh that comes just after all the credits go up either - just to remind you it’s not quite finished.


Wrong lingo

It does really irk me if slang and colloquialisms in retro TV dramas use the wrong expressions for the time. For instance, 'Call The Midwife', have done it a lot.

In the dramatization 'Des’ about Dennis Nielson, aired in autumn 2020 but set in the 1980s, the expression ‘in case all goes pear-shaped’ really jarred. 

As I write this, 'Ridley Road' has just aired on BBC1 (October 2021). It's supposed to be set in the early 1960s and for the most part the scenery, clothes and backdrop have been very authentic.  But then it let itself down with the postchronistic expressions. In the first episode one of the characters said ‘twenty minutes max’. In the second episode we were given ‘can you share where he is?’ (‘share’ in this context is very transatlantic and millennial) ‘having a right mare’ and ‘why don’t you just do one’. In the third episode we were treated to 'wowsers', 'grow a pair', 'I'm blagging it' and many more, and in the final episode 'bog standard'.   

It's not difficult nowadays to do your research and while we can all forgive the odd bum note, so many of the expressions weren't just a few years out of date, but decades. 

This triggers the same feelings that prompted the first blog (words and phrases) and is shared my many others, judging by the conversations I've had on social media.

Fictional new year ahead of its real life counterpart

I’m not a lover of new year at the best of times. I’ve always been more of a Christmas person and when I was younger it was because I was either always ill or there wasn’t anywhere to go. Now of course it means one year older. Why celebrate the all too swift passage of time? But just homing in on the rituals for a moment, there is something edgy and thrilling about counting out the last ten seconds of the old year in real time - before Big Ben bongs in the new. The operative words here are ‘in real time’. I do not want to see the cast of Beastenders (another pet hate we’ve already visited) or even my favourite Corrie characters singing in the new year with Auld Lang’s Syne a few hours before me. It makes it seem passé and stale by the time me and mine get to do it. So a note to makers of soaps - can you not schedule those scenes to go out on New Year’s Day instead? At least then we can be ahead in real time.

Well, that's all for now. I'll have another - hopefully this side of new year! In the meantime, please do share your own TV bugbears.

Update:  I've remembered another but more to do with films. I hate anything to do with vampires or skeletons jumping out in horror movies. They're so unscary and hackneyed. Many a good horror movie has been spoilt by OTT endings and ridiculous gory faces!

Sunday 8 August 2021

Little Guide to Pet Peeves - Part 4 (Interior decoration and outside spaces)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires. This one's short and a bit of a rag-tag of ideas. Apologies if your indoor or outside space is guilty as charged.

Metro Tiles

At the time of drafting this 2018-19, I noticed these horrid white tiles springing up everywhere. Especially to be found in bathrooms and kitchens. If you watch TV programmes about selling or improving homes you will see these replacing much more attractive bathroom or kitchen furnishings. But how did they become all the rage? I guess they are supposed to represent a clean minimalist look. But their stark shine makes them more suited to a butcher’s, maybe wiped clean of pig’s blood spatter. Or the functional brittle look of public toilets for easy disinfection or how I imagine the walls of a morgue to look.


Industrial Hedge Cutters

You know the sort; used by people contracted to housing associations and councils to trim public or communal garden areas. You’ll have heard them, often blasting you from your slumber at some unearthly hour with a persistent annoying racket. Whining on and on. And just when you think the hedgecutter has finally been switched off for good, stuttering to a growl, up it will start again, only nearer this time. When you think of wo/man’s endless capacity for improvement and invention, surely it’s not rocket science to come up with a quieter hedge trimmer? Especially now that I’ve identified a gap in the market. You’d think they could invent something ear-friendly!

                                                    Image courtesy Keith Syvinski: www.freeimages.com 

Royal Blue Walls

That sort of royal blue on walls in bedrooms. You know, Chelsea Blue. I won’t say Everton Blue (even though I’m a Liverpool supporter). I’m not that much of a fan of red walls either but there’s something about that shade of blue on walls that makes me feel a bit, well, blue! OK for kids but nothing worse for anyone else. The fact that I couldn't find an image with said blue walls is testament really. The picture below (which I had to adapt) gives the right shade but not the image in my mind's eye which is usually a cluttered sort of room.


                                            Adapted from an image by Spencer on Unsplash


Indoor furniture in gardens

A comfy settee with soft fabrics just looks wrong in a garden unless it can be packed away in the event of rain or change of season. What’s wrong with good old-fashioned deck chairs or sun loungers with their padded cushions? Surely these are the most sumptuous of outdoor furniture while still being practical? They are lightweight and can be stored away in the summerhouse or shed or conservatory out of season. But now the twenty-teens-and-twenties way is to have a gert big settee on the decking complete with cushions and coffee tables and the rest of it. Yes you can drape covers over them but are they really protected from the elements? They just seem a luxury too far to me.

                                                    Courtesy of Canna Curious Club on Unsplash


Everything about it. From the initial erection - that brain-shuddering metal clanking; that drilling and heavy-booted clomping about - to the ugly site structure stealing your light and invading your privacy, and staying up for an eternity. The only good thing about it - is when it's finally gone. 

Well, that's me. Now over to you. Do share your own bête-noires of the home-and-garden sort!

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Lille Guide to Pet Peeves - Part 3 (Eats)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I began this 'little guide' for fun regarding some of my personal bête-noires. At the moment it's serving to take my mind off other more serious things that have been going on in my life. 

So with no further ado I bring you Part 3 - edibles.


Ugh.  I suppose I never noticed it as much when it was a stick of chewing gum as in Wrigley’s.  (Though my mum hated an advert from the sixties for Wrigley’s Spearmint Chewing Gum with a vengeance).  Wrigley’s Spearmint tastes just nice, never spoils your appetite, I can still hear the catchy little American(ised) ditty and my mother cringing every time she heard it. 

But it wasn’t that which switched me off to spearmint flavour, unless subliminally.  After all, the Wrigley’s was the least offensive to my palette and could be chewed happily alongside the peppermint (though not usually at the same time).  I remember the peppermint Beech-Nut chuddy which had a crisp coat and were individual pillows rather than sticks. You had to chew away the outer coat until it was absorbed into the general mound in your gob.  But maybe I have dim and distant memories of a spearmint flavour too?  A quick google of the stuff shows that there was a spearmint as well as a peppermint flavour.  But I think the main offenders came in the form of those penny Arrow bars, some of which were toffee but others were a pink spearmint flavour (why pink, I have no idea, except maybe pink was more appealing to children). Other offenders are those spearmint flavoured sweets, chews and other minty delights that children buy and you knew the spearmint by its usual colour.Spearmint as a colour for a summer dress or T-shirt I have no problem with – it’s that cloying sweet minty flavour with something nasty lurking in there.  Who could possibly enjoy it?  I just want to spit it out and rinse my mouth out with the real deal – peppermint!

Rowntrees Fruit Pastels

Many childhood sweets and snacks conjure up wonderful memories of  spending our threepenny bits or sixpences in a dark corner sweet shop with rows of jars containing such delights as pineapple chunks, bonbons and peardrops, and a bell that jingled on entering and exiting. Memories of tearing off the packet in a spiral to reveal the next colour in the tube of wine gums or Refreshers and sharing with best friends. But I'm afraid me and those fruit pastels never saw eye to mouth. The sugar coating did indeed disguise something horribly cloying underneath but you'd need a more palatable sweet to rid yourself of the offending aftertaste.

    Ekkanat Sartsoongnern - Unsplash.com

Blue Cheese 

Just picture it. You’re looking forward to the smorgasbord of cheese delights: maybe some smoked Applewood, a bit of creamy crumbly Caerphilly, maybe some cream cheese peppered with - well, peppercorn - or apricot even, and then there’s this ugly stinking thing on the board, like a neighbour from hell, threatening to contaminate your chosen cheese or the knife which you were going to cut a slice of your said favourite cheese. I mean, cheese that stinks and looks as if it’s riddled with mould (it is!) and it’s some people’s idea of cheese heaven. Danish Blue is guilty enough but Stilton takes the biscuit – in fact it kills off the biscuit and everything in its wake. 

PDPhotos - Pixabay.com



I do get the sweet and sour thing; the need for contrast on your taste buds now and again.  I suppose this is why chutney has become the favoured complementary accompaniment to curry.  As a child I hated curry, it’s not the first choice of dish for an infant’s sweet tooth, I suppose that’s why chutney seemed a light relief in comparison back then. But my palate matured into curry while leaving the crude chunky bitterness of chutney behind (especially mango chunky with slimy sweet pieces lurking within the jar).  If you want sweet with curry,  bananas and coconut work fine, thank you very much.


Please let me know me any saving graces about this horrid, stringy, slimy fruit (apart from the fact it may be good for you).  But it’s a goodness I can happily live without.  My sister Ann and I always hated rhubarb as children, followed closely by gooseberry and, for me, blackcurrant (too sharp). But whereas gooseberries could taste faintly juicy picked straight from the bush (if you could get past the hairs) and quite inoffensive in a fool (that is, smothered in cream), rhubarb could have nothing done to it to render it pleasant. You can’t eat sticks of it raw to my knowledge (and why would you want to?) and cooked it becomes the disgusting slimy bitter mush mentioned above.  Some childhood fads you grow out of as your palate develops but to this day rhubarb still remains the bête-noire it always was. 

A friend who once invited Ann and I to stay over, wanted to know if there was anything we didn’t like to eat.  Being non-meaters we’d emphasised that important detail for the main course but hadn’t really thought about puddings.

So imagine our horror when she said she’d got rhubarb crumble for pudding. She said ‘I hope you like rhubarb crumble because I know someone people don’t.’  I had to bite my tongue at that moment to stop it yelling So why serve it up then?!  Of course Ann got in before me and said she didn’t feel like any pudding because her stomach was still a bit wobbly from the journey (it was a perfectly valid and genuine excuse) which left me having to spoon my way painfully through the bitter stringy abhorrence, hoping that the custard and crumble itself would act as suitable masks. 

Then horror of horrors we stayed overnight in her girlfriend’s mobile home and were invited to help ourselves to the coffee cake there on the side the following morning. (See Coffee Cake below)

This picture of rhubarb by julien merceron (pixabay)
also demonstrates the 
ubiquity of the offending whipped cream

Coffee Cake

When I was aged five I had a bad encounter with coffee cake and  never recovered. Maybe I wouldn't have been partial anyway.  But this coffee cake seemed to be one of those two or three storey affairs.  Maybe it just looms large in my memory, carried forward from a time when all things were mega large: schools, teachers, fellow pupils, houses, only to diminish in proportion if you revisit them in later years. But this cake was filled with a rich rum butter filling. I just remember the words ‘rum butter icing’ probably a conflation of the top and the filling, but the icing (though probably sweet and coffee flavoured) wasn't the culprit. But did I spew and puke up on that nasty rich buttery filling and it's been off the menu ever since. I apologise to my mother if it was home-made, because her home made chocolate cakes are to die for.

Cheese & Onion Pasties 

My mother and I share this strong aversion.  Now I do love a quiche, especially a home made one if it contains other vegetables such as broccoli, tomato, courgette, peppers and the onion isn't the predominant flavour.  Now I come to recall it, I'm sure the famous meal with the rhubarb crumble for afters may have had some sort of cheese and onion quiche for the main dish. This isn't one of my sister’s aversions but I think for me the whole meal was a write-off. Maybe it had saving graces in the form of other vegetables. But the worst main course imaginable is one of those cheese and onion pasties that you used to be able to buy circa 1970s. I say used to because I sincerely hope that pasty fillings have improved since then. But if you can imagine a cheesy mush being drowned out with a cheap raw onion taste between thick pasty-pastry you will get a feeling for how disgusting these were.  I have to add that cheese and onion crisps are not far behind in the stakes. They stink, what's more, and if you're ever traveling in a train carriage where someone's just popped open a bag of them, you will want to move seats pronto before you barf if you're anything like me.

Whipped Cream


Strawberry tarts, mandarin tarts, or delicious creamy lemony desserts in a cafe are delicious just as they are, if you are partial to this sort of thing. But so many times they are ruined with a tower of piped mush over the best bits. Many a time I've fancied one of those French pastries filled with fruit and creme patisserie only to find half of it obliterated with the white hat of shame. It doesn't look good, it tastes yuk, and it’s like buying haute couture clothing then covering it with cheap lace from the Pound Shop! What's more it makes a right mess of your mush. 

At least in this delicious looking sweet (monika1607-pixabay)
the offending whipped cream is on the side and not smothering the poor dessert!

Fried eggs 

Boiled eggs for breakfast, done just right with the yoke still hot and liquid, ready for spooning out of the shell into your mouth and dunked with a buttered soldier, now that’s yum. Scrambled eggs on toast, as long as it is creamy and just set (even with runny bits) that’s scrumptious too.  Even poached eggs are passable - clean cooked and usually served with the complementary toast which will absorb any stray yoke.  But who seriously enjoys cold coagulated egg yoke, bleeding its thick yellow over a fat-cratered egg white, frilled with a burnt hem, onto your plate, where it’s joined by cold tomato and other seepages from your Full English? No thanks.

by Alexas_Fotos (Pixabay) 


Not so much a pet hate but very meh. Bland. Vanilla. I don’t mean the lovely homemade sort. My mum used to occasionally make it and it almost had a melt in the mouth soft centre, and straight out of the oven it was rather good. No, it’s those tins which have loads of oblongs perforated with dots and sugar and have this icky aftertaste. Strange because the short in shortbread is obviously due to the high butter content but homemade short crust pastry and - my mum’s shortbread, as already ascertained - didn’t have any of this nasty flavour.

Well, that's all until my next lot. Do share your own in the comments section!

Friday 2 April 2021

Little Guide to My Pet Peeves - Part 2 (Social Media & other online annoyances)

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I began this 'little guide' for fun, so please do take it in the spirit in which it’s meant. These are just my personal bête-moires which I'm sure some of you will share.  

Many of you probably find the whole of social media is a pet hate.  Facebook is still my main social media platform and though there’s many things to like about it, for instance, connecting with likeminded people, reconnecting with old friends, sharing memories in nostalgia groups and much more, it’s a double-edged sword. Facebook is becoming more and more tedious, algorithms take charge and fewer and fewer of your friends’ post are visible without hunting high and low. Here are a few things which irk me on Facebook and more generally online:  

Visual Noise and GIFS

This includes any flashing pictures or carousels that assault your vision every time you visit certain websites. If you’re lucky you’ll find a well-hidden pause button so you can at least freeze the movement.  It includes adverts that pop-up on any Google page because we all know Google collects cookies so that little pictures of coats or dresses or - I dunno - hoovers which you’ve already bought (so why would you want to buy another?) pop up with impossible regularity.  As soon as you click on the little cross that closes the infernal window another one pops up further down, sometimes the same one, to boot.  Take note, gamers. There’s surely a good game to be had at seeing how many Google ads you can zap in a specified time.  

And don’t even talk to me about GIFS! For the uninitiated, these are big in-your-face animations that you can add to a thread on Facebook to express a feeling. An occasional one you may be able to ignore but to have bells and whistles and flashing lights at you when you’re just trying to follow a conversation?  Has Facebook never heard of the visually challenged?  Those who suffer with migraines?  With epilepsy?  Facebook has also increased the number and range of coloured backgrounds for your statuses. It’s all about bigger and brighter and READ MY POST OR ELSE!

People talking over you 

It’s rude in real life, when you’re stuck between two people and they carry on a conversation over your head. The more polite will be aware of you sitting like a lemon betwixt them and will say ‘shall we swap places?’ in order to continue their chinwag without subjecting your ears to any more than necessary.  But on social media, although people are aware of ‘hijacking’ threads and are pulled up over it, there seems to be no etiquette about people talking over you.  You start to feel invisible when you’re leapfrogged, while rude and inconsiderate just carry on their verbal ping-pong without a single thought to you or your comment. Sometimes more people join in, making you feel a complete outcast!

People friending you on FB just to like their page

I’m sure you know the type, especially if you’re an author or do anything else creative. As I’m an indie author, I’ve had many Facebook friend-requests from fellow authors. Usually they come from mutual author friends and in the main they’re supportive and respectful. But nothing makes my heart sink more than to get a friend-request from a new author who immediately asks me to ‘like their author page’ before speaking to me. Not even a ‘hi (or hey) nice to meet you and what do you write?’ It is the ultimate in bad manners and narcissism and always results in my unfriending them forthwith. I mean what do they think?  Maybe what I write or indeed the fact that I’m a writer has barely grazed their self-inflated heads.  Maybe somebody somewhere told them to friend lots of other writers and spam them to bits. They probably didn’t use the word spam, they probably told them to market assertively (aggressively).  But surely by now everyone knows that targeting other writers - especially writers you don’t know - does not work.  Other writers want other readers to read and review their work too. Other writers are busy writing. Why would they bother with some self-important, bad-mannered jerk?  You’ve got to wonder! 

Let’s Play a Game - each adding a word on social media

I see this occasionally in writers’ groups or forums. This is where each person on the thread just adds a new word, presumably to feel part of this larger joint story and to enjoy a transitory power in being able to alter its course. But the problem is, on Facebook, say, all but the last two or three contributions are visible and who cares anyway about this tedious and endless story?

My sister and I used to have a version of this as teenagers. But with much more exciting variations and outcomes:

Each word we wrote would be in pen in a notebook

Each word was written by a different character we’d invented (alternating between one of Ann’s characters and one of mine)

Each word was also written in that character’s own handwriting

And finally, we had a finite list of characters who we enacted so the total number of words would be something like 70.

This would mean a 70 word paragraph and even if our characters had two contributions per exercise, we’d  have a finite nonsensical very short story. But it’s finite nature was part of its charm. To this day I still remember the first line of one of those fun exercises which went: On top of my gothic football!



Yes those. Those annoying things that suddenly appear when you’re tying to sign in to a website to prove you’re not a bot. I don’t mind those that require you to tick all the pictures that feature, say, a car or a flower. No, it’s those infernal ones that have a series of numbers and letters embedded in some obscure cobwebby grid so you can’t see the blessed figures or numbers. It’s OK if it’s your bank sending you a PIN number through the post - you expect a certain level of obscurity but are bots so sophisticated that they’re able to read numbers and figures embedded in a tangled maze more than we can? These captchas do give you an option of trying another and then another. I don’t know know about you, but I find they get successively more obscure and wish I’d persisted with the first option! By this time I’ve lost the will to live and wonder whether the site I was trying to access is worth all the aggro.

Compulsory ‘fields’ on online forms 

It’s the requirement to give your phone number before being able to ‘turn’ the virtual page that does it for me.  There are great red lines on the page, like you’ve had a ticking off for handing in suboptimal homework.  I’m sure many of you will do what I do and fill out the telephone field with a row of noughts or ones and merrily get through the magic barrier.  I have to say though that some sites have wised up to this and spot that it isn’t a ‘real’ phone number.  Sometimes, I decide these firms don’t deserve my custom if they’re to be that intrusive. Why do they need my phone number anyway if they have my email? Hmm….

Card readers 

I understand the need for safety and security with all the scams and phishing that abound online. I really don’t mind even using the confounded card reader when I have to pay a new payee (as long as it doesn’t come up with an error, but that’s the trouble - too often they do). But when they’re working OK, I understand why I have to have extra security for a new payee. It doesn’t happen very often, right? But what I do object to is having to use one every time I go into my online bank account. I had been with my bank for 43 years and never an overdraft. That and my loyalty surely counted for something? I phoned them and complained, but still the need to use a card reader every single time and all because I couldn’t use my mobile (it doesn’t get a signal for me to receive their one time passcodes). So I’ve now found a bank that - shock, horror - is quite happy to send me a One Time Passcode by email. It’s not rocket science, it’s quite painless on both sides. So I decided the bank who had my money for 43 years didn’t deserve it a moment longer!

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

It has naff all to do with us here in the UK. I appreciate that for my friends and family across the pond, Black Friday relates to the equivalent of Boxing Day sales here (after, in this case, Thanksgiving). In fact, maybe they got the idea from us seeing as they don’t celebrate Boxing Day and hence no Boxing Day sales.  But we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, so Black Friday is just unmoored to anything. As for Cyber Monday, that must be highly annoying, even to our US friends, dragging out the consumerism even more. Soon we’ll be having Uber Tuesday and Red-Hot Wednesday tacked on if we don’t watch out!

Watch Parties

This is the latest annoyance on Facebook – alerting me to some watch party in my notifications. All they do is slow my computer down and stop my browser working!


It probably has its place but I really can't get on with WhatsApp groups - they seem to consist of one long continuous thread and haphazard conversations.  I had to search high and low too in ordered to switch off the infernal notification noises.

Well, that's all for now.  Do share your own in the comments section!

Monday 15 March 2021

Little Guide to My Pet Peeves - Part 1 (Words & Phrases)

 Little Guide To Pet Peeves

A long overdue follow up to my book Little Guide To Unhip but I have decided to do these as a series of blogs.

I shall being posting these over the next few weeks (or probably months at this rate) as it keeps evolving, especially as all our lives have changed so much since I began this. But some things are just as relevant as they ever were, for example, in relation to the online world!

I began this for fun, so please do take it in the spirit in which it’s meant.  I’ll put my hands up and say I probably have as many annoying little turns of phrases and behaviours as the next person.  These are just my personal bête-noires.  

I’ve divided them loosely into ten areas (which may change as I go along) but the first thing that inspired me to begin this was Part 1 – words and phrases. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section.


Part 1 - Words & Phrases


Hun- This really gives me the heebie-whatsits. It’s ubiquitous, you can’t escape it. The most guilty are women on social media or other internet platforms talking to other women.  The worst thing about it is that it’s meant to be a term of affection, or extending friendship. Sorry about your tooth pain, hun.  PM me, hun and I will give you a link XX.  But why? I want to scream ‘My name is Kate’ or whatever user name I happen to be using, so why the heck all this hun malarkey?  I’m not part of the hun club and you won’t catch me following the herd to be accepted. I am past all that.  I can forgive a person if they are Australian as I think its use there predates the false chumminess of the internet. I think it may be true in Scotland too. My mother used to call me honeybunch as a term of endearment when I was a child. But she is my mother and not many others used it. Certainly not every other person.

A close runner is Sweetie.  Sometimes I give in to temptation and call them 'flower' or 'petal' or 'my dear' in return.  My sister loathes it when men call her 'dear'. She always replies by calling them 'pal'.

Irregardless– it is regardless and irrespective but now the two seem to be conflated, and the uninitiated will continue to say irregardless, regardless of what I write and what is right. In fact, I couldn’t help but sneak this into a novel.  Speech blunders are wonderful for character studies!

Panties– I know I’m not alone with this one. In one of the book groups on Facebook there were 291 comments below the original post by someone claiming it was one of her pet hates too some years ago.  There were some hilarious contributions to the thread and particularly from one man who was persuaded to remove his ‘panties’ from the character in his book. This is the wonder of an international discussion where in the US women’s underwear is panties and the knickers of the Brits are not used.  One of my contributions to this long thread was the reason I loathe the word ‘panties’ is because it sounds a mixture of infantilising and porno in equal measure, ugh!  It seems to be generally us British women who cringe at its use.

So– this tiny little word at the beginning of every sentence, or in answer to any question put to a politician, or to begin any Facebook status. This annoys my brother more than me although I did incorporate this annoyance into the same work of fiction as the irregardless mentioned above. 

Going Forward– like ‘so’ heading every sentence, or ‘hun’ ending every social media comment, ‘going forward’ has spread everywhere like mold spores.  What began as a considered, emotionally intelligent way of getting one out of a sticky hole and not repeating the awful mistakes of the past in a given situation, now seems to be a redundant glue word.  ‘What we are doing, going forward, is this..’ ‘What do you want to do now, going forward…?’ As if there was some doubt regarding the direction of travel. What else are we doing?  As good as it would be to time travel, I don’t think physics has quite caught up with that yet, so we shan’t be going backward any time soon.  Whatever happened to ‘in the future’? 

My bad– when I first heard this – or should I say, saw it written down in a forum – I thought there must have been an error; that the author had omitted a word. It didn’t even make any sense. I wanted to say My bad what? But then, as is the way when you hit on a new expression, I started seeing it everywhere.  I mean, why not just say ‘my mistake’ or ‘I’m sorry’? That would be too simple, though.

Have Your Cake and Eat It – I’ve never really got the measure of this silly expression or what it’s trying to convey.  I know the sort of context in which it’s it’s said. But if it’s meant to mean you can’t eat your cake twice then why not just say that?  That’s perfectly clear to me.  But also it’s stating the bleeding obvious too.  Why would anyone try and eat the same cake twice?  I think we need a completely new expression or why not stick with the much clearer ‘you can’t have it both ways’. 

Anymore For Any More– Usually said when some hostess with the mostest is wanting to know if her guests want any more helpings of food.  It just seems to be one of those irritating, over-achieving over-used expressions which isn’t all that.  Maybe it’s just me, but just ask me and my table neighbour if we’d like any more. You don’t have to be clever: a hackneyed phrase that wasn’t all that clever to start with is just, well, annoying.

Panic Attacks- when what is really meant is a minor panic with none of the accompanying palpitations, quaking legs, flip-flopping stomach, sizzling/icy sweats, dizzy vision, swimming head, thoughts going faster than the London Marathon, you get the picture.

Furthest from the work place– this is one of those veiled vicious phrases employed by the Department of Work & Pensions to pass judgment on you or your sick and disabled friends, single mothers, long term unemployed etc and to single you out for some Nudging, Work Related Activity, Help with Your CV or something equally patronizing. Worse, you may be bullied, humiliated, sanctioned or all three with the new sweeping powers bestowed on the Employment Services and Disability Health Assessors.

Here are a few more phrases that are pretty annoying because of the regularity with which they’re used:

Kicked the can down the road (or into the long grass)–it was a good descriptive metaphor for the first person who used it, now I just want to kick it into oblivion. 

Thrown him/her/me under the bus– similar to above. They could at least change the mode of transport. The poor bus gets it every time.

Tin ears – there was a time circa 2019 when every other politician accused his or her opposite number of having their lugs made of a particular metal

Mood music – another platitude latched onto by (mainly) politcians

Let’s unpack thisnot in relation to returning from your holidays either, but ‘let’s go into this in more depth’.

Drilling down– similar to the above ‘let’s drill down into these numbers’

Early doors – the doors bit is completely redundant.  What people mean is ‘early on’. But the doors part obviously originates from going to a venue when the ‘doors’ were just opening eg for a gig or theatre production. 

It is what it is – a truism of ever there was one.  It isn’t what it isn’t might be a bit more original. Or perhaps try saying it isn’t what it is or it is what it isn’t which might at least raise a few eyebrows or spark some interesting philosophical debates

Dial it down – again, it was good on first hearing, a little less on second but very quickly slipped into clichéhood.  How many devices have dials these days in any case?

It doesn’t even touch the sides –another tired and over-used phrase

Row back – at the time of writing this (March 2021), this is used with increasing frequency.  Meaning to change your original opinion or decision 

Double down – apparently this comes from blackjack but it’s taken off now and applies to sticking to one’s position resolutely even in the face of adversity

From the get-go – nothing against US expressions when they’re from people from the US! But this has now largely replaced ‘from the start’.

Pushback – what happened to the good old-fashioned words such as resistance or opposition?

A friend of mine detests - singing from the same hymn sheet. I sort of know what she means.


Uptick - keep hearing this a lot!

Shift the dial - I guess, as with 'dial it down' people are getting very nostalgic for dials!

Get out of jail card - this has been popular in the last few years especially among sports' commentators

Lessons will be learned - this deserves a section all of its own.  Suffice to say, it has inspired a poem which has been published.

Baked in 

Blue sky thinking 

Low hanging fruit

Perfect storm

We're pregnant! - Now, I'm all for men taking part in childbirth and supporting their partners; they did have a big part to play, after all, but they are not seahorses. They don't carry the baby in their tums, so this is a step too far for me. 

I shall be bringing more pet peeves next time!