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APOLOGIES: To all, for missing the last two weeks. This was due to extraneous events beyond my control.

MANNERS: Where have good manners gone? Once upon a time it was the occurrence of an incident of bad manners that we noticed. Now, alas we are similarly shocked when an isolated occurrence of good manners presents itself. What has gone wrong?

IMMOVABLE AUTHORITY: The problem of the immovable authority. I am sure, like me, many of you will have experienced the official who has no compassion, ‘Rules are Rules’, and one’s own circumstances do not fit the boxes he/she has in front of them to tick. Whatever happened to those who could think for themselves? How wonderful if they could see beyond their tick list. If only they could show some sympathy for another’s distressing situation instead of seeing only their own stultified view.

THE SMALL COST OF A SMILE: One wonders why so many companies seem to employ people, with the worst interpersonal skills, to man their Customer Services lines. Is it deliberate to give customers a hard time, or is it just lack of sufficient, appropriate training? It is comparable with many people on reception desks who never smile. How refreshing it was, recently, at the Macmillan Horizon Cancer Centre in Brighton, to be greeted by a reception desk full of welcoming smiling faces. Why cannot all such places be like this, it costs so little to put the client at ease when they are obviously troubled or distressed.

SPRING: As Shakespeare said, ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ Judging by the welcome sign of so many snowdrops, it is an indication that this is so and the wait cannot be long now. The French word for snowdrop, Pierce Neige, (pierce snow) is a very obvious description, but not as pretty as ours.

SMILES FOR THE DAY: Dr: Why are you here today? Alf: I feel like a pack of cards. Dr: Don’t worry, I’ll deal with you later.

What should you do if you meet up with a Blue Whale? Do your best to cheer it up.

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