What I really hate however (yes, I'll go so far as to use that word) are readers who can't or won't take a piece in the spirit in which it was written, and readers who point out the one, singular exception to the topic at hand.
As someone who writes a lot about Americans and Brits, of course I generalize. That's because a) I don't know every single person in either country, and b) there are certain generalizations to be made. I take great pains to insert the words "Generally speaking", "Usually" and "often" in order to leave the door open for the one in a million exception. And still.....
Either these readers are trying to speed read and missing most of the text, or they are just bound and determined to find fault (and therefore have far too much time on their hands). In my book Rules, Britannia (see left panel) in writing about the UK, I said "Apart from in London..." in almost every chapter, before making a fairly general comment. Despite declaring that this wasn't a tourist book, nor was it a guide to London, I still had American commenters saying that they'd lived in London for X years and had never seen/heard that of which I spoke. Sigh. I even had one American pretty much telling me that I must have made up Morris Dancers because he'd never come across them. In London? Really? You don't say.
In a recent column I wrote for BBC America's Mind the Gap, about tea in the USA, (65 comments - and all fascinating) I was making the point that sometimes I just want a decent cup of plain old tea and not the fancy stuff that is really only "hot juice". I gave the Starbucks tea menu as an example, and made the fatal error of naming their Jasmine Orange tea (which, incidentally, I got straight from the web site, but no matter). The response from one commenter?
"And no, it's not Jasmine Orange tea you're seeing at Starbucks, It's Orange Blossom green tea which is fantastic with a bit of lemon when you feel a cold coming on. There's a big difference between Jasmine tea and Green tea lover will tell you."
See what I mean? Completely missed the point of my piece which was, - it doesn't really matter what it's called, it's just not real tea as far as I'm concerned. Good job I have developed the skin of a rhino - I just couldn't be bothered to put that comment right or, for that matter, correct the bad grammar. Really people, if you're going to have a go in a comment box, take the trouble to re-read it before hitting "publish".
In general, (she says, generalizing), my readers are a nice bunch and not given to pettiness and sniping. I just felt like having a bit of a rant.
Hillary gets it!
*Blue Peter - Wiki does a good job of explaining this well-loved British Children's TV show. Let's just say if you got a letter read out, it was a BIG deal. And don't even get me salivating at the thought of being awarded a Blue Peter badge.