The sheep and the goats: a far from definitive guide

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The Independent Online
THERE are two kinds of people in the world, and this is how you may know them.

Those who, when taking money from a bank cashpoint, carefully count it before putting it away, and those who put it away immediately, as if they can't quite believe they've actually been given it and there is a risk of their being asked for it back if they leave it in their hands for a moment longer.

There are those who, when buying petrol, always know what the number of their pump is when asked by the cashier, and those to whom it has never occurred to look, even though this is the thousandth time they have been asked.

There are those who always pick up hitch-hikers, for someone to talk to, and those who never pick up hitch-hikers, for fear of having to talk to them.

There are those who regard gloves as a way of keeping your hands warm, and those who see them as a fashion accessory.

There are those who say: 'It looks like snow' hopefully, and those who say 'It looks like snow' fearfully.

There are those who cannot pass a mirror without stealing a look at themselves, and those who cannot pass a mirror without averting their eyes.

Those who always wind their videotapes back to the beginning, and those who didn't even know you were meant to.

Those whose videotapes are labelled with the name of the programme which is on it, and those whose videotapes are carefully labelled with the name of a programme which used to be on it.

Those who rip open Jiffy bags using the tag, as directed, and those who prefer to spend hours fighting their way in through the staples and sticky tape so that the Jiffy bag can be re-used.

Those who can never remember which is the producer and which is the director in films (and which is which in the theatre), and those who didn't know there was any difference.

Those who say 'Thank you' and 'What?', and those who say 'Cheers' and 'Excuse me?'.

Those who, when reading of some person's mishap in the paper, say 'Serve 'em right', and those who say 'There but for the grace of God . . .'.

Those who, when buying a paper in the morning, just buy their usual paper and go off without a sidelong glance, and those who contrive to slow down the operation so that they can read all the headlines and added attractions in all the other papers, and then go away wishing they had bought at least one other newspaper.

Those who look forward to Christmas, and those who look forward to New Year.

Those who make New Year's resolutions, and those who, on 1 January, make a resolve to give up something in Lent this year.

Those to whom a 'diary' means a little book in which they write down their version of what they have already done, and those who, by 'diary', mean a little book in which they write down their version of what they have already promised to do.

Those who can successfully imitate the Newcastle accent, and those who make it sound like not very good Afrikaans.

There are those who think Larkin was a poet, and those who think he was a character in The Darling Buds of May.

There are those who think The Darling Buds of May was a TV series, and those who think it was half a line of Shakespeare.

There are those who send a postcard by putting a stamp on it and sending it, and those who send a card by writing on it, putting it in an envelope, sealing the envelope, writing the address on the envelope, stamping it and then sending it.

There are those who feel quite cheered up when told to have a nice day, and those who feel suddenly depressed.

There are those who can never quite understand why the Duke of Devonshire has his country seat in Derbyshire (or why, come to that, the Marquess of Bristol has his residence - at least, pending appeal - in Suffolk), and those who couldn't care less why.

Those who have already mentally worked out precisely what eight records they would take to a desert island but haven't even bothered to make a will, and those who have arranged things the other way round.

There are those who, when unsure about tipping etiquette, tend not to tip at all (and therefore find themselves making lifelong enemies of Greek taxi drivers or Madeiran waiters), and those who tend to overtip (and therefore get into embarrassing positions by slipping 1,000 lire to a man they took for an Italian doorman but was actually a passing policeman).

Those who, when a film on TV is finished, switch off the set, and those who wait to watch all the credits roll up, entranced by the fact that all the people in the world with the oddest names have gone into film production and post-production . . .