Sunday, October 26, 2003
Walking to Sainsbury's this morning, Butter and I paused at a zebra crossing, expecting the oncoming cars to stop and allow us to cross. Did they? Hah! This prompted me to declare 'people who fail to stop at zebra crossings' as one of my pet hates. But what are my other bete noires? Here, for people who don't include top ten lists among their personal peeves, are my Top 10 Pet Hates:

1. The words 'Do you eat fish?'
I know I've gone on about this one before (see my FAQs) but it really does make me go all wobbly with frustration and rage. I only tell people I'm a veggie if I have to because I can't bear the inevitable follow-up question. I've considered getting T-shirts printed with 'No I don't eat fish' written on them, but that would prompt even more discussion about my non-fish-eating. By the way, being asked 'Do you eat sugar?' and 'Can you drink tea?' don't irritate me as much because they're so patently bonkers.

2. Celebrity authors.
This is a biggie, and I'm unashamed to say that it's caused mainly by jealousy and bitterness. It's also a fact that all novels by celebrities are rubbish. I know this because in the past, I read a few. Now I'm staging a one-man boycott of all novels by Ben Elton, Louise Weiner, Alexei Sayle and every other pop star/comedian/actor who's always had a book in them. I'm not even going to make an exception for Pammie Anderson's forthcoming meisterwerk.

3. The saxophone player who lives next door.
We used to think it was a clarinet, before Butter spotted it through the window. Being the Devil's own instrument, saxophones are bad enough when played by professionals. When played at 8am on a Saturday morning by a tone-deaf moron who hasn't quite yet mastered his scales, it's torture. Actually, I heard the US military were thinking of recruiting him to assist him in their efforts against internatiional terrorism.

4. Nose-blowing in public.
It always happens to me. I'm sitting on the train, minding my own business, when some flu-ridden Typhoid Mary comes and sits next to me then spends the entire journey coughing, sniffing and blowing their nose. Why didn't they stay at home? I don't want your germs! The Japanese have the right idea. Nose-blowing is practically illegal. It is, however, okay to hawk up huge gobs of phlegm and send them pavement-bound. Which is worse, I suppose.

5. The way people act around babies.
I don't dislike babies per se. In fact, I'm completely indifferent to them. I just don't get the way people ooh and aah at them as if they're amazingly unique and attractive. The presence of a baby - which will probably grow up to commit most of the other crimes on this list - turns normally sensible people into idiots.

(Having said all that, I once held my nephew while my sister went to the loo in Tesco and I was quite amazed by the way women suddenly looked at me. Babies can be amazing babe-magnets.)

6. Phil Collins
I'm not sure if a person can be a pet hate, but Phil Collins makes me want to projectile vomit. The music, the way he looks, his politics, everything he says and does. I used to wonder if I could ever be friends with a Phil fan. Fortunately, there aren't many of them around these days, so I hope this will never be tested.

7. The phrase 'Is it beyond the wit of man?'
This is a hangover from my Connex customer services days, a trauma from which I'm still recovering. Actually, I hate all hyperbolic phrases in complaint letters: 'I was appalled that the train was a minute late', 'The presence of a pigeon on the platform ruined my life', and so on. 'Let the train take the strain? You must be joking!' makes me turn purple too.

8. Everything the Daily Mail believes in
If I'm ever confused about something or am struggling to form an opinion, I just have to check out the Mail's stance on the issue. I then know that I should adopt the opposite point of view. Works every time.

9. Ironic dancing.
Trendy people - or people who think they're trendy - dancing ironically and 'hilariously' to pop songs that they despise. Is there a more pathetic site in the universe? No.

10. Automated telephone systems.
I want to speak to someone about my mobile phone bill. First I have to negotiate a maze of random numbers. Take one wrong turn and I have to hang up and start again. Then I do exactly what the company wants me to do: I give up. And weep.

So that's my top ten. Oh, and I also loathe all forms of racism, homophobia, sexism, animal cruelty, prejudice, ignorance, violence, war and abuse. I'm not completely shallow, you know.