One of the nation’s top private girls school wrote to me a week back about my 12 year old daughter.

The letter was addressed to “Hi Robert” and signed by someone called “Senior Absences”.

We’ve discussed this in the office and after some debate, concluded “Absences” is probably Hindi while “Senior” is the sort of Christian name some Americans would give their sons. If so, probably the letter was written by an ethnic Indian migrant from America.

What Senior wrote, with no comma after “Hi Robert” and a superfluous one after the second word in the letter, was as follows.

“Your daughter, Amelia Jones was marked absent from College yesterday. Please reply with an explanation”.



Dear Mrs/Mr Senior Absences,

re; Amelia Jones

Unfortunately on her way to school, Amelia was viciously attacked by a herd of zebras. It took her 5 hours to kill the lot after which there seemed little point carrying on to school.

Yours faithfully,
Sir Robert Jones


To date no reply.


Ignorance and bad manners. I’m almost your age, Sir Robert, and resent anonymous people addressing me by my first name. Mostly they are young enough to be my grandchildren, but even if they were older it’s bad manners.


Perhaps ‘Senior’ was meant to say Sen’or? In which case a Spanish Hindi ? They are everywhere in Wellington!! As are herds of killer Zebra-although it seems like fewer today than yesterday thanks to Amelia “Zebra Killer” Jones. Now thats a name to cherish.

It is indeed ignorance. As they don’t appear to have any manners they are probably unaware what manners are? Thus, not bad, simply mannerless

Next to “Hi” from people I do not know is the barbaric “Hey”. My standing operating procedure is now to delete on first sight all emails that start with ‘Hey…”

markscreaminggoosearmstrong July 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm

And they teach our children…sigh…

More excellent work from you, well done, and never change.

Does this top school not realise that last week was a school holiday… perhaps all parents received such a letter; meanwhile the teachers sat in empty classrooms wondering where their pupils were….

Working for investments banks for a quarter of a century, I noticed that formality and deference are slowly diminishing in importance.
Additionally, with English now being the global lingua franca, perfect grammar and spelling aren’t cherished as much as they once were.
This is probably a shock for baby boomers, but less so for people my age (Generation X).

Not to downplay the reason for this post, but I really had to laugh at your reply. Thanks for the laugh.

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