Archive for the 'good manners' Category

Supermarket etiquette – shopping dividers on the conveyor belt

This week’s Thanet Gazette was worth every penny for the debate on the letters page (13). Go read the issue in the library if you missed it.

Last week Jane Allen, who shops in Birchington, wrote:

“The person in front never puts the divider up between their shopping and mine. I think this is extremely rude. I was brought up to put the divider up after my shopping on the conveyer belt and ALWAYS do.”
Despite letters to the paper and going out to talk to shoppers in Margate it seems the Thanet Gazette were unable to find anyone else who felt passionately about this matter, in agreement with Ms Allen.
I was not the only person who checked the date to see if it could be an April Fools joke when I first read Ms Allen’s letter. Is she serious, or an agent provocateur? Anyway, being the pedant that I am I spent too much time pondering the issue myself because my gut reaction was that Ms Allen was actually wrong.

The divider of shopping etiquette is not as she stated.

With great joy this week I read the reply from Mark Goddard of Minis Road, Birchington, it is this I would urge you to read in full. He is a man with too much time on his hands to write about the trivia in life; he explains most eloquently why etiquette should suggest that when in a queue one is not responsible for what goes on behind the queuer. The queuer is merely responsible for ensuring appropriate space (barrier) between herself and the person in front.

If there is something trivial to argue about there will be blogs and websites dedicated to the subject, so I did a little search. The www is almost quiet on this matter. I did find a very entertaining blog, however, in which the author explains that the rules of etiquette are one should put the divider in front of your own shopping but the are strict rules governing your response if the person infront places the divider for you:

“My point being that the checkout divider has no significance over and above the thousands of other things happening around you at such a point in your life.
“However, others see the matter differently.
“It turns out that there is such a thing as checkout-divider-etiquette. And, it turns out, that it is a gross infringement of this etiquette should you not put down the plastic baton whenever the chance presents itself to you – … it turns out, at no point are you, the person ahead of them in the queue, obliged to place the plastic dividers down for them, the person behind you in the queue.
“And on top of all of that, if someone puts one of those plastic batons down between their food and yours, and you are behind them, about to put your prospective purchases down on the conveyor belt, it is obligatory to mutter a thank you. Letting out a voluble thank-you isn’t advisable, as this may come across as sarcasm, but mumbling an indecipherable thank-you into your sleeve is the very least you should do.”

There are, however, many pages dedicated to the subject of queuing, jumping it, holding your place with your shopping trolley whilst you go off for forgotten item, paying with small change, not getting your money out ready until it is time to pay, etc…




I think – people who find these things all so worrying might be better doing their shopping on line and/or sticking to small shops. Supermarkets are not going to be pleasant.
I found one angry supporter of the Jane Allen view.

Curvature of Space / Time & toilet rolls

On the web there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of contributions to the debate. Not much of a debate, however, as the dissenters seem to a a tiny minority, but in this free world they are entitled to continue in their own idiosyncratic way.

I am talking about those who hang the toilet roll the wrong way round.

Hung the correct way most of us find it easier to tear what we need and there is some argument that less toilet paper is used/wasted, therefore, this saves money and is the most environmentally friendly way of hanging the toilet paper.

The correct way is perfectly illustrated here:



I had to search hard to find some explanation/ justifications for hanging it the WRONG way: One commentator claims that it is easier to pull/tear sheets away with just one hand; others have claimed that the paper is less likely to all unravel over the floor.

What is this unravelling problem? It is not one I’m familiar with. I guess gravity must work in a strange way around their homes. In fact, it could be that their toilet roll is by coincidence aligned a particular sharp curve in the space-time continuum.

Is there a limit to a healthy interest in toilet paper – I found a site where people review different makes – Andrex had the most reviews – Who would read them, would you?

I mentioned this to my mum. Like me she buys which ever is on special offer – 3 for 2 or 12 rolls for the price of 9… In fact, if there is no special offer I’m confused by the choice and so don’t buy any! Any way, mum told me her hubby has definite toilet roll preferences with explanation which are far too detailed.

Read reviews if you like:

Toilet seat lid etiquette

Toilets should be left with the lid down, Mr Tara Plumbing believes, it looks tidier.

Perhaps he is influenced by the Feng Shui notion that all the good energy which is swirling around the house seeking a means of escape will find it by plunging into the pan.  With all our internal door constantly open AND the lid up we are doomed!  Strangely, there is no suggestion that negative, bad energy would feel compelled to drown in the toilet water.  I’m a little cynical, myself.

A few days ago I knocked Mr T.P.’s toothbrush out of the cupboard and straight down the loo.  No I didn’t swill it in the sink and put it back! I owned up and threw it away.  So, that is why the lid should be down!

I had suspected it was an equality campaign.  If those who stand up to wee are to lift the seat and replace it when they have finished, then there is a certain equality if we all have to lift and close the lid. As you can imagine, this very subject is the focus for many a web page, for various reasons most seem to agree with Mr TP, although, don’t quote me on that as I did not conduct a full review! For those interested on what others have to say just search on the title of this page.  This blog site is dedicated to it:

Blog on all toilet related matters here:

Bon Appétit in Ramsgate

 is walking distance from my house. Based on my one visit on a mums’ night out I would highly recommend the restaurant and so does Mark Palmer in the Daily Telegraph.

It is French, of course, the menu is for the dairy-loving carnivore. With just 2 hours notice they were able to come up with a delicious choice of vegan options for one guest, which is the sign of a good chef. Now, let me tell you, I don’t do food reviews. My vocabulary has no adjectives which can be applied to comestibles. The food was interesting delicious, portions sizes were generous. The food was excellent, fresh, tasty, interesting and well presented. Bon Appétit is expensive (relative to the area), but you get what you pay for (expect to pay £25-£40pp (depending on how much you like your puddings and alcohol), it is worth it. In an elevated position under the Royal Harbour Yacht Club it has a great view over the harbour.

Whenever a large group go to dinner, that tricky issue of the bill with inevitably arise. I hoped someone would say, “Don’t worry everyone, I’ll get this”! I ‘ve been for dinner with strangers many times. I remember once being most impressed by the local lawyer sitting next to me who suddenly produced a tiny note of everything he had, with the price. He had obviously written this, very discretely, through the evening. As a regular member of that group he told me the end of the evening was always chaotic as everyone paid for what they had eaten.

With another group that I regularly eat with we also pay for our own meal. I have no problem doing a quick mental tally of my own consumption, but I’ve always been impressed by the woman who brings her calculator and works it out to the penny (no rounding it up to the nearest pound) she then meticulously adds on 12.5%. Actually she multiplies by 1.125 as she is using a scientific machine. She’s a girl with a math’s degree on a budget!

The mum’s divided the bill equally, always a recipe for confrontation among strangers! Who didn’t have a pudding? Who only drank tap water? Not me – I ate and drank as much as I could! You don’t keep this wobbly tummy without working on it!  How much should we leave as a tip? At least 12.5% is a minimum guideline if you have had good food and good service.

I heard a very interesting programme on Radio 4 this week. Did you know that it is legal and common in the restaurant business to pay staff less than the minimum wage! It is expected that wages will be made up by tips AND income tax is paid on those tips. If you had a good night out, with good service and sat at a table for several hours, the least you can do is reward the low paid staff with the best tip you can afford! 10% is the absolute minimum, in my opinion, 15-20% is quite reasonable. I’m known for being thrifty, so if I don’t feel I can afford the tip then I would eat somewhere cheaper – Beano Cafe have a good reputation! 

I’m sure buffet, eat as much as you can type places thrive because of groups of strangers. At such places the food might be somewhere between awful to palatable. At least there is not much chance of arguing over the bill and a generous tip might not be required.

By the way, if you check out the review for Bon Appétit (link above) you will note Ramsgate is up and coming! The author mentions that we have a Waitrose and a Cafe Nero. Mr Tara Plumbing recalls the Waitrose opening in the early 1980’s and as an apprentice plumber he worked in there at one of its refits in the 1980’s. Apparently it was built on the site of a former brewery.

More :

Education ~ manners or grammars?

I could not disagree more with Julian Brazier, MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, he wrote about Education in the Adscene, this week. This is a relief as I was worried when I found myself in agreement with the sentiments of leader of the Tory party recently. Am I mellowing in old age?

As a local MP, not surprisingly, he is over enthusiastic about the Kent education system, a very strange system of 11+ and selective grammar schools for those who perform best in a test at 10-11 years old. He says he is concerned “that four fifths of the country has no selection and does not have enough good schools.”

Which implies there are more ‘good schools’ in Kent compared to the rest of the country, relative to children numbers, and that this is connected to selective education. On what evidence? There are Comprehensive state schools which appear higher in the league tables than the Kent Grammars – however, I do not think position in league tables of GCSE results is the total measure of a ‘good school’.

As a new comer to Kent, my impression gained from several years of hearing parents complain about the selection procedure is that it is a shambles or a disaster for the majority of children. I’m sure there are many good schools, the problem is the process for getting in to them.

I went to a High School in Worcester. There was no 11+ and no grammars. The children came from all social back grounds and all abilities. Mathematics and English were streamed by ability from our first year of entry, and most other subjects were taught in mixed ability groups in the first year. As we got older, almost all subjects were streamed.

Before I reveal to you just how well or badly my old school performs let me list the numerous advantage of my school experience:

in my junior school (1970’s) there was no training, pressure or competition to pass the 11+ (it didn’t exist);

at secondary school we mixed with others of all abilities and back grounds;

all children had the opportunity to move up or down the streams as a result of their intelligence and effort;

children could be brilliant in some subjects and poor in others.

Julian Brazier is worried that a mixed ability Comprehensive school can not challenge the brightest children, he says:

“Even with streaming, a school in a poor area is unlikely to have enough bright mathematicians in each year to fill a whole class.”We do not need to guess the answer to this, as the vast majority of the country does NOT have selection.Whilst I was at school, in my Comprehensive, I remember other pupils passing the Oxbridge entrance exam.

I was not the only child in the school to get an ‘A’ in my ‘O’level Maths (the best result

you could get in those days). Clearly, our maths lessons were as good as they could be, as was the rest of our education.

Friends Reunite reveals that many of my year went on to University or professional/higher education (at a time when only 5% of the population went to Uni.).

What about the vast majority who FAIL the exam in Kent? Some of these children also have grade A potential in some subjects but in Kent, they will not mix with the most able. I could go on and on…. but I think there is overwhelming feeling against selective education, which was so unpopular and, therefore, scrapped in most of the country a long time ago.

Being the kind of woman I am I must say SIZE IS IMPORTANT, probably.

I really do not like the idea of secondary schools with a thousand students or more. I suspect size is important: my school had around 500. The children knew all the teachers, and they knew all of us. All children could be made to feel important and valued.

We can’t all be Einstein! A debate about grammars is irrelevant to most people. The really important issue is how to engage, interest, teach or train the majority of young people who are not going to be doing well in GCSEs.  The children who would have left school at age 14 or 15 in my grandfather’s day.  He did very well for himself through the old apprentice system.What about the offspring of Mr & Mrs T.P.?  Like any parent I want the best for him. His parents have brilliant brains so he may genetically blessed in the IQ department. In other parts of the country I would be happy for him to go to a good Comprehensive. As he is only 5 we have a few years to see what life will bring.

As someone with varied life and a string of academic achievements I feel quite strongly that is more important in childhood to develop skills for living rather than obtain umpteen grade A exam passes.

Life skills that all children could learn: numeracy and literacy, of course, but also to have social skills. To be able to communicate clearly, confidently and politely. Good manners, good posture and charm will get most people a long way in life and are more useful than A levels in most situations!

Reviewing our estimates

You may think calculating the price for a quotation is easy, after all we do it all the time. No, if you are seeking a quote from a builder or plumber in Kent, each job is quite unique and the spreadsheet we use has space for the following items:


2. Labour

3. Fuel (hour far is the job)

4. car parking (if applicable)

5. a proportion of our overheads (you know, insurance and advertising)

6. smokers in the house? daily penalty for inconvenience. We may decline the work as we have to consider health and safety in the work place and providing a safe work environment for employees.

7. pets in the house? Possible penalty for inconvenience

8. Interesting people with interesting hobbies – price will include a discount – because we are interested in meeting you again and hearing more about your charity work, collection of African wood carvings or whatever (mostly because Mr Tara Plumbing and I are lonely people with no friends!)

9. friendly (sexy) housewife? secures discount of about 10% – the guys will enjoy working there.

10. Over the top sexy housewife who greets the workers in dressing gown or similar – add £100 per day danger money as no man can be left to work alone for his own safety. (Despite appearances, the men are frightened of these ladies!)

11. young children – usually discount – sympathy for sleepless nights, worry, single income household, etc…

12. teenage children – penalty due to obnoxious behaviour and the possibility they may destroy the work we’ve done whilst it is still in our guarantee period.

13. Messy house – may incur penalty depending on work

14. Rudeness on telephone or when we attend the house – huge penalty – we are not keen to see you again so we need a huge incentive to put up with you.

15. Invite us to a swinging couples party in your hot tub! We will come to the party but we won’t do the work in your house!

16. Then finally, add V. A. T., of course, 17.5%

So you see, it is not as simple as it looks.

Note: Item 6 & 7 depend largely on smell and there may be no charge if there is no inconvenience (& no smell).

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