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I walked into my local butcher’s shop the other day and there was a new young bloke behind the counter.

 I glanced over to see if Bazza or any of the other regulars were there as I am suspicious when walking into an establishment where one is reasonably well known, to be greeted by a complete stranger.

It was too late. He pounced.

“Whadd’ll be mate?,”  he asked .

As he attended to my order and started slicing the big cleaver dexteriously through my lamb leg chops, I relaxed a little.

“How’s yer day been,” he asked, not looking up from his now energetic axemanship.

I glanced at my watch. It was still only 10.30 in the morning.

Now I pride myself on my early rising, my fitness and my level of participation in all sorts of healthy activities but by 10.30 in the morning, I probably still haven’t chalked up a big score in that direction.

I know these butcher blokes get up at crack of dawn and start hacking into bloodied bovine corpses even before they contemplate breakfast, so I didn’t want to let the side down.

“My day’s been great thanks mate,” I said.

But no. He wanted more.

“Whaddya been up ta,” he pressed.

‘Well, “ I said, “I’ve been for a long beach run followed by a board paddle in the surf and then breakfast on the deck, so it’s been terrific so far, “ I replied, thinking this would satisfy his inexplicable craving for knowledge of my daily routine.

He looked at me as if I had been taking the mickey then he probably thought, “well some of these old bastards are pretty fit these days so I guess he may be some sort of fanatic.”

But he still looked dubious. I felt I’d won that round and was feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Then, as he handed over my lamb leg chops, neatly parcelled up with the price pencilled on to the white butcher’s paper, he struck again.

“So…….whaddareya up to the rest of the day then”?

For Gawd’s sake!!! Has this bloke got the blood of the Inquisition in his veins? Look I know they’re trying to be polite and friendly but why the third-degree? I’m an old journo so I’m used to asking  questions, but these days, it seems the conversation starters are nothing short of downright prying.

I know you don’t have to answer and some people resent being asked personal questions, even about such mundane matters as whether they’re going to Bingo in the afternoon or indulging in  primitive tribal ceremonies from the Lost Civilisations of the Incas.

Anyway, I blurted out something about taking the car in for a service and fled from the shop.

 But I felt violated. Solied.

Here’s this bloke, a complete stranger, whose sole job is to make sure my lamb leg chops are juicy and tender, who now knows more about me and MY diurnal functions than I really care for people to know.

What is it with these people in shops these days. They want to know everything..

I was in Harvey Norman recently buying some camera equipment when this gorgeous young salesgirl in a figure-hugging black skirt suddenly said: “ How was ya weegend ?”

I looked down at my newspaper. It was Wednesday.

Weekends loom large in the consciousnesses of the young but this was ridiculous.

Luckily, I had a ready response and besides I’m far more susceptible to young female charm in figure-hugging black skirts than I am to beefy butchers blokes in bloodstained aprons.

“Well we have friends from overseas staying with us so we all went out to dinner on Saturday night at an Italian restaurant and next morning went for a bike ride in the park,” I reported triumphantly.

It’s important when communicating with the young that you never give the impression you’re wasting a second of your life.

“Wow, awesome”, she said, not looking particularly impressed.

Funny isn’t it, the importance people place on, not their own activities, but those of other people when it comes to filling a weekend with untold hours of bacchanalian delights.

I snuck out of the store without buying anything because I couldn’t face having to tell her I had nothing planned when she inevitably asked me: “And whaddyaupta this weegend?”

Have you noticed this widespread trend now by complete strangers, shop assistants, restauarant and coffee shop wait persons, and barstaff mostly  to delve into your private life and extract some sort of vicarious pleasure from knowing that a) thankfully they’re leading a fuller more satisfying life than you are or, (b)  as in the case of the Harvey Norman girl in the figure hugging black skirt, secretly appalled of your apparently banal existence.

When we were their age, along with being warned never to stare at people or point, we were always told not to “be nosy”, it was the height of rudeness.

So what’s gone wrong with the world?

I’ve got nothing to hide in my thankfully, blessed and healthy existence, but every time I walk into a shop I really don’t want to be interrogated by some young thing, even if she is in a figure-hugging black skirt, about what I’m going to get up to a the weekend and especially when I suspect she’s been told to do it by a touchy-feely type of New Age boss person who went to the “Have A Nice Day“ School of Manners.

But I admit it’s not just the youth of today who have this trend…alot of people of my acquaintance and near my vintage will often, after the normal pleasantries have been exchanged with you and your good lady, suddenly say something like: “So what are you two up to today?”

Now we lead pretty busy lives but there are times when you relish the idea of spending a few idle hours with your beloved just doing nothing in particular and you certainly don’t feel inclined to reveal this to your inquisitor.

I got jack of it the other day and replied stony-faced to a particularly infuriating and inquisitive friend:  “Well I thought I might go and get a navel ring inserted and accompany the missus here to her weekly Belly Dancing Class.”

He reeled back in horror and we walked away feeling quite pleased.

A few days later he cautiously approached me and said:”I didn’t know your partner did belly dancing.”

“Dave,” I said, “she is NOT my you well now she is my loving wife of almost 30 years and just for the record, I was joking about the belly dancing….and the navel ring!”

He slunk away and he’s been avoiding me ever since…but I don’t really think he got the message.

Know what I mean?

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