Frankly, I'm sick of these pleasantries.
I hope this column finds you well.
And I hope this column finds you particularly well if you work in public relations.
Why? Because trite introductions such as this (others include: "Great to be back in touch with you") bombard my inbox on a daily basis. They always come from strangers so it seems only fair to reciprocate.
I had one such message only this morning, from the purveyor of a fruit-based soft drink.
I didn't understand the press release, which had something to do with the World Cup, but that's hardly a surprise as I was cheesed off by the opening greeting.
There it was: "Dear Richard, I hope this email finds you well." It was from Laura.
I was tempted to tell Laura: "Dear Laura, I hope this email finds you well.
"Unfortunately, I'm not feeling very well. I've got a nagging headache, a stiff neck and recurring coccyx pain. The latter has been a curse. I'd ask my GP for some Tra-a madol but I fear she will think I'm a dope fiend. I watch Holby and I know junkies will do anything to get a fix. But really my lower spine does give me some jip.
"Plus, I'm also experiencing lowlevel nausea. I may have caught a bug from my wife who's been under the weather with a nasty virus she picked up while working in a local school. You know what these places are like - kids chuck-k ing up, vomit spray flying through the air.
"All in all, it's a wonder I'm able to function, let alone respond to your kind email. But thanks for asking about my general sense of well-being.
"BTW [that's very PR, using BTW] no, I am not in the least interested in your client's new ver-r sion of squash."
But I didn't write this, because it would have been harsh on Laura, who had to get a diploma to come up with phrases like "I hope this email finds you well."
And I'm not kidding - I'm really not - but I've just had a quick look at my latest emails and there's another one there, docked in the last 10 minutes, and it starts: "Hello Richard, I hope you're well."
I was always taught not to take sweets from strangers or run off to see their puppies. It's a concept that holds true for business rela-a tions - and email correspondence.