Wrestling with the mower in suburban Auckland.

Well, that's blown it

David received a parcel from his daughter in the UK for his birthday. "When it arrived it had an official sticker saying it had been opened by Customs. One of the items in the parcel - an inflatable Zimmer frame (not sure what she's getting at!) - was also opened. We couldn't understand why Customs would have been so interested in this parcel, but reading the Custom Declaration all was revealed. Our daughter had listed the cheeky gift as a 'blow-up Zimmer frame', perhaps not the best choice of words. P.S. I haven't blown up the Zimmer frame. Yet."

Hitting nail on the ... ear


"In the late 1970s my boyfriend and I were staying with friends in a small Waikato town," recalls Jennifer. "Our friend decided she would let her two daughters get their ears pierced. The older girl was worried about how it was done and if it would hurt. Teasing, my boyfriend told her that nails were hammered through the earlobes to make the holes. We eventually drove into town and had just stepped inside the shop when the older girl gave a strange cry and bolted back out the door. I still don't know why the Te Awamutu jeweller had four large nails neatly lined up on the counter!"

Cliches that grate

More readers share their most irritating phrases

1. Tony writes: "South Auckland - used as a generic euphemism for anyone poor, dole bludging, gang affiliated, child abusing, alcoholic or just anyone Maori or Pacific Islander. I once heard the rapper Scribe described on the news as a 'South Auckland' talent, when he is in fact from Christchurch."

2. Another reader hates "died doing what they loved best" and says "so what he/she liked best was what? Dying? I mean, you might like fishing/swimming/surfing or whatever but drowning? Hmmm."

3. A mother of 4-year-old identical twin girls is 100 per cent sick of hearing "double trouble". "It's not funny. I've heard it before and it's not even close to accurate," she says.

4. "Possibly the most irritating and long-lived cliche around at the moment is 'at the end of the day'," writes a reader. "I thought this had disappeared years ago along with 'at this point in time' and 'the bottom line is ...' but, no, John Key has resurrected it and uses it with monotonous regularity in almost every speech he makes."

War of words

Many of you responded to our reader's dislike of the cliche "religion is the cause of all the wars in the world" - and his subsequent claim that atheists were responsible for the bloodiest wars in history. Rob from Tauranga was the most articulate: "Firstly the only reason the 20th century was so bloody was because much better weapons were developed. Secondly Hitler was not an atheist; he was brought up a Catholic and later changed to a Protestant faith. There are many quotations from him expressing his faith in God. Mussolini led a Catholic army in the same war, and Stalin's war was promoting communism, not atheism. Humans have always fought wars for land, resources, and many other reasons but the one that stands out is religion. Most of the current wars are between religious groups, in Croatia, Palestine, the Muslim brawls between various sects, the terrorist wars between the West and the extremist Muslims ... I have never heard of a war to promote atheism."