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Marking the New Year, Lynn Hawthorne details the ten most irritating things about 2006 that she'd like to see the back of.

Since my last column I’ve survived a birthday, a family Christmas and collided with the New Year, when it is traditional to reflect on the year just past and look forward to the future.

The media is currently saturated with compilations of the ‘best of…’ this and that and the world and his wife is being asked to comment on nothing in particular.

Not wanting to be left out, I’ve decided to turn myself into a Grumpy Old Woman…er, little acting required there these days!…and share with you my Top Ten Most Irritating Things I’d Like To See The Back Of and see if you agree…

  1. Over-used words and phrases

Am I the only one to be sick to the back teeth of hearing the same old tired phrases being trotted out? Why have people been on a ‘journey’ when all they’ve done is learn how to do something?

How about ‘amazing’ as so dreadfully doled out by Zara Phillips as she became BBC Sports Personality of the Year? I voted for her because equestrianism gets overlooked, because she’s a woman and I thought it would be nice to have a mother and daughter double.

Having heard her acceptance ‘speech’, I wish I hadn’t bothered. Don’t these royals, minor or otherwise, have access to someone who can string together a sentence?

And my final one for this category, a “rollercoaster ride of emotions.” Tess Daly please take note! English is the language of Shakespeare, one of the most colourful in the world, so please be more creative in description!

  1. The mysterious missing ‘th’ sound

Thanks to Eastenders and rap music, the ‘th’ sound has disappeared fromthe English language, particularly amongst boys and I would like it back.“I’ve gotta fink fings fru,” was a recent line of dialogue.

I can makeallowances for regional accents, but correctness is also important. ‘Thought’ is an entirely different word to ‘fought’ and I would fank you forremembering it…

  1. Previous news

I’ve mentioned this before in my plea to TV producers not to reveal theplotlines to programmes, but can we actually have the news after it has happened rather than before? “Today the Prime Minister will announce..” is the province of the psychic, not the serious broadcaster.

The only time these kind ofannouncements would be useful was if they gave ustonight’slottery numbers or the winner of the 3.15 at Kempton Park….

  1. Roll credits

How many times has the end of a programme been ruined by insensitive announcements over the end credits? The mood can be broken totally byplugs for what’s coming up. Let us savour the joy, the thoughtfulness, thetears as we watch the names go past of all the talented people who worked on the show. And in the cinema, can you stay seated until the end and leave those of us who likethe whole experience to get what we paid for?

5. Ask the Expert

I’m losing patience with Breakfast telly. They call in the ‘expert’, ask them pointless questions and even answer them on their behalf. Or they don’t let them speak. Or they ‘run out of time’ and cut short an interesting debate. Only if they’re making a worthless contribution should you shut them up, otherwise let them get on with what you’ve asked them to do!

My favourite is, however, the case of mistaken identity, where the guy waiting for a job interview ended up on News 24 gamely answering questions about a subject he knew nothing about! Serves ‘em right! Well, it would have done if anybody had noticed at the time…..

6. 6.Personalities without personality

Surely the time has come to end this cult of celebrity? OK, Andy Warholsaid we’d all have15 minutes of fame, but for some people that is, frankly,far too long. By about a quarter of an hour.

In Borders in Brum they’ve got half a shelf dedicated to Oh MyGod, a ‘memoir’ by the vacuous Chantelle who had the temerity to pollute the airwaves on Big Brother or some other reality nonsense.

There are some interesting people out there doing worthwhile things and talented writers whose work will never make the commercial page and yet wedevote tomes to the glorification of pulp. Let’s get a grip and soon.

7. 7. Call centres trying to be friendly

Idon’t think there are many people left who are happy with call centres abroad. I object to calling Mumbai or Bangalore to sort out my bankaccount or to pay off my loan for an Italian car I bought in Oldbury.

What really gratesisthe forced friendliness (“Andhow are you today?” Like you care!) and the cheek of being told that the operative can’t understand my Black Countrydialect! Enough! It was easier when theywere in Bolton or Slough, or even Glasgow….

8. 8. Midlands weather

Have you noticed how often the Midlands is missing from the nationalweather forecast? They’ll tell you about the north and south or the eastand west, but fail to mention the bit in the middle. Are we supposed topick the bit we like best and adopt that?

I once e-mailed Mo Dutta onhis weekend Radio 2 show and moaned about the very same thing andcome next bulletin, the Midlands reappeared. Bless you Mo and dear old Colin Berry!

9. Petty bureaucracy

Otherwise known by the phrase introduced by Esther Rantzen as ‘Jobsworth’. I took a group of friends out for a meal to celebrate my birthday and it was terrible. The standard in this particular pub had plummeted since our last visit and so we complained. Themanager said he was aware of the problem with the dish I had chosen but didn’t complain because he’d lose his job.

The fact that by 10pm the week before Christmas his pub was empty rather suggests that he was losing his clients and his job would follow anyway. Make 2007 the year the worm turns and we all develop backbone and the guts to refuse to put up with second best, whether as customer or employee!

10. Top Ten Lists

I don’t think I can stand any more talking heads wittering on about thingsthey’re too young to remember or never experienced in the first place.Some Z list celeb waffling about their favourite song, album, band, film,comedy clip, toy, TV programme, fashion item, hairstyle, cloudformation…blah blah…

No, let’s keep our moaning for the bus stop orgawping out of the window during a teabreak and only complain if it will be useful and get something changed for the better, large or small it doesn’tmatter as long as it’s done.

Happy New Year!


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