TOPICS: Who's ya mate?  

THE state health service ain’t your mate, mate.

While it’s a far better friend in times of sickness than your actual mate and his offer to make you a new tooth from PVC pipe, the service has reminded its staff to keep things formal.

A Northern NSW Health memo warns workers about using terms such as ‘‘mate’’, which could be taken as disrespectful or disempowering.

Disrespectful? It just means ‘‘friend’’, doesn’t it?

Well, sort of. Listen carefully to your colleagues, fellow commuters and, well, mates. It’s a versatile little word.

There’s ‘‘he’s my mate’’. That one’s simple.

Then there’s: ‘‘Maaate, got change for the vending machine?’’

Or: ‘‘Ma-aate, you can’t say things like that.’’

You can use it to add a dash of venom to a statement: ‘‘Don’t try that on me, mate.’’

Who could forget the mythical Old Mate, a figure of incompetence and fun?

‘‘Everything was fine before Old Mate opened his mouth.’’ 

Or: ‘‘She really needs to break up with Old Mate.’’

A man calls a woman mate to show her she’s one of the lads.

‘‘Coming for a beer, mate?’’

A woman might call a bloke mate to make it clear their relationship is purely platonic.

‘‘Cheers for the flowers, mate.’’

You can ironically refer to someone’s nemesis as their mate. ‘‘Your mate the parking inspector’s at it again.’’

Finally, there can be few more cringeingly condescending terms of endearment in the English language than ‘‘matey’’.Even if  the user doesn’t mean any harm.

‘‘Made another duck, matey? Haven’t got a date to the formal matey? Oh well you hang in there.’’

Got that, matey?

 Minutes can feel like an eternity

JUST stay calm. You’ll be on your way soon.

Sure, the Swansea Bridge can crack apart the Pacific Highway at the worst possible moment to allow a yacht packed with what you imagine to be Corona-swilling, Rolex-wearing playboys to pass.

But there’s a method to the madness. The bridge opens for boats on the hour on weekdays, for any bookings. It doesn’t open at the peak traffic times of 8am or 4pm. On weekends there’s a no-opening period of 8am to 4pm. We’re told the clearance ranges from 2.7metres to 3metres, depending on the tide. 

And the average time drivers have to wait on a Swansea Bridge opening? The official figure is four to five minutes. Anyone who’s gripped a steering wheel at those lights while already late for a wedding will know that it’s actually an eternity.

How about you, dear reader? Have you ever been stuck at the Swansea Bridge at a really bad time? And if you’re a Swansea local, do you factor in a bridge opening when planning a trip?

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