A comedy of manners

I read an article on good manners last week, it not only made me sad that it HAD to be written, because some of the things highlighted in there are so often not done now.  It also made me grateful that my parents brought my brother and I up with good manners.  I say please and thank you all the time, make eye contact with those who serve me, smile at them too, and say ‘Bless you’ when anyone sneezes in my vicinity.  That doesn’t all make for good manners I know, but I am finding going out and about in public some days is such hard work, because people are so ignorant.  Seeing with magical eyes as much as I can the good in all people is hard work at times, because people are so wrapped up in their own worlds.

Hubs and I went shopping today, we were again assaulted by the child that lives in shopping malls who screams, “But I NEED it!” pouts, stomps feet, sulks and generally make their parents lives a living hell until they get their own way.  What happened to please?  What happened to the parents saying ‘No’ and meaning it, so that they wouldn’t have to put up with the behaviour, and neither would anyone else.  When did get OK to speak to anyone like that?  Let alone your parents, when you were out?  Maybe it is a UK thing, but the ‘You shall not embarrass your parents’ is near enough the 11th commandment, or was when I was growing up.

Same shopping centre, again today: I was standing waiting for hubs beside a shop I’d just come out of.  Unfortunately for 3 Asian women, I was also standing in front of the exchange rates, so that meant that they practically had to stand in my pocket while they gesticulated and had an argument about them for 5 minutes, nearly batting me over the head in the process.  If they’d asked me to move aside, I would have.  As they didn’t, I didn’t, I stood there firmly.  I am tall, 5′ 10″ and I have a presence around me.  When you travel on public transport you expect people to squeeze up against you.  In a half empty corridor, you don’t.  While I am English and would rather politely smile that tight little smile that says ‘You’re revolting.’  If you push me too far, you’ll get told you’re revolting.  Like the Indian man who hawked up next to me on the train on Friday.  I told him he was disgusting, then moved my seat as I really didn’t want to catch whatever was floating around in his loogie.

Anyway, here is a little list of dos and don’ts that were featured in Notebook, June 2010 issue:

Turn off your phone in cinemas or theatres, don’t answer your phone in confined public spaces like restaurants or toilets, don’t litter, don’t gossip, push the chair in when you leave the table, bring a gift when you visit someone’s home, reply to texts and emails, never laugh when someone says something racially, socially or sexually offensive.

Emails should be constructed with the same care and attention as you would a letter, there is no excuse for poor grammar, punctuation or spelling; Form orderly queues without pushing or queue jumping; Don’t smoke while walking along the street; Ring and turn up when you say you are going to.

I’ll leave you after that little pep talk with a quote from H Jackson Brown Jnr ‘Good manners sometimes means simply putting up with other people’s bad manners’.  Be that as it may, there is a limit, and I’ve reached it.

One thought on “A comedy of manners

  1. I have a friend who has a 15mnth old daughter who is now refusing to go out with her daughter to avoid the embarrassment of her crying and screaming and being naughty rather than telling her no.


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