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Now we can all be perfectly trained

Hundreds of so-called Politeness Police have been recruited to beat bad manners on the French rail network.

A crack team of conflict specialists has been hired by SNCF with the power to fine travellers for having feet on seats, smoking and smooching. They will also have the authority to deliver on-the-spot lectures on respect for fellow passengers to anyone they deem rude.

What a fabulous idea. Get them over here now. As Brits, we are far too uptight to ever complain to someone's face when their behaviour is annoying, preferring to arrive at our destination silently fuming, having exhausted our supply of tuts.

May I suggest a few rules of my own? No talking whatsover on trains before 8am. No sitting in the aisle seat with your bag on the window seat (adopting an air of distraction will not cut it). Bulky rucksacks must be carried in front of you, not bounced off the faces of every seated passenger on your way to the exit. No hogging the arm rest and understand that being rotund does not entitle you to half of the adjoining seat; you'll need to perch for dear life on the edge of your own, or lose weight. This type of initiative could transform the morning commute.

OFFICE gossip should be encouraged because the threat of being talked about forces lazy colleagues to contribute, according to a new study. Psychologists at the University of Amsterdam found that up to nine in ten office-based conversations are based on gossip and it is an excellent way of ensuring a more efficient workplace.

But there is gossip, and there is Gossip! Being talked about for not pulling your weight on a project is not good, but rectifiable in the long term. Being talked about for entertaining your colleagues with a tequila-fuelled re-enaction of the Full Monty striptease at the office party is not. Fear of being the subject of such whisperings is particularly pertinent at this time of year. If you are reading this through the fug of the Morning After the Christmas Do, the damage may be done. Head swirling with indistinct memories of an overly frank pay discussion with your boss or giving a star-jumping masterclass to an aghast CEO? Grab thee a Lorne sausage roll and get back under the duvet. Your career is over.

As for the rest of you, tread carefully out there. Nothing says regret like the cold chill of simpering into work on the Monday morning after a Christmas party where you were the mainstay of the evening's entertainment.

AND finally. Anyone who ever doubted the intelligence of man's best friend, needs to see the startling video footage made by a New Zealand charity featuring dogs – average, unassuming mutts-in-the-street – driving cars. Actual cars.

Apparently, it takes a mere seven weeks to train rescue dogs up to negotiate the intricacies gears and steering. The only nod to their canine condition is a discreet booster seat and an adaptation to allow their paws to reach the gas. The idea was a bid to boost adoption rates by demonstrating how clever and easy to train the animals are. What a fantastic idea for a taxi company. I'm sure dog banter would be a lot more endearing than that of charmless human rants I've been subject to and with payment being acceptable in biscuit form, it's a win-win situation.

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