Counterpoint by Scott Freeman Barging professors will get short-shrift


Postscript to last week’s rant about pointless research projects: I was struck slack-jawed by a BBC radio interview with a woman who had deliberately bumped into hundreds of Britons in the essential quest to discover how many of us apologise when someone else collides with us in the street.

Not content with the startling statistic that nearly 80 per cent of us mumble ‘sorry’, apparently she set off around the world to discover if the same proportion of French, Spanish, Italians and presumably the good people of Papua New Guinea felt the same impulse. As it happens she found fewer than one in five were inclined to beg her pardon.

Now I’m not sure how this expands our knowledge of human kind, but let me assure you the next time a German university professor barges into me in the street I will give them short-shrift.

And.....While I’m on the subject of pointless, answer me this. Why is it that people looking to sell their car to casual passers-by plaster a sign in the window announcing “For Sale” but omit to tell us how much they want for their none-so-shiny set of wheels? Nobody has ever put a notice in their windscreen saying “Not for Sale”.

Here’s a tip: What potential buyers want to know is HOW MUCH? Most of us can identify a Ford Focus from a Ferrari, so we don’t need this detail. Registration plates give a pretty good clue to how old the vehicle is so there is no need to tell us it’s a 2006 model, and if ever there was a redundant piece of information it is “good condition”. I’ll be the judge of that. HOW MUCH is it? All of us have a budget in mind and will look more closely at a vehicle in our price range. Put the price on the screen. Nobody will spot your poster saying £3,000 and think that’s what you paid for your last service. Trust me.

And.....finally, according to the proverb, Rome was not built in a day. But I bet it didn’t take much longer than the construction of Matlock’s new toilet block. Perhaps they are crafting a Colosseum and a Trevi Fountain for our delectation. I’ll let you know.