In some ways, I admit that I am a bit old-fashioned because in everyday life I believe in the practice of good manners. I am grateful that my parents instilled good manners in me and I in turn (with a bit of help from Lady Pudding) sought to instil similar good manners in my children. We often reap what we sow and I am pleased to say that the respectful way our now grown-up children deal with other people demonstrates that our efforts certainly did not fall on stony ground.
In my former life as a teacher, I was often appalled by the poor manners of my flock. You'd see teachers struggling down corridors with their arms full of books trying to get through fire doors as the wildebeest horde rushed through, not one of them stopping helpfully to hold the door back. You'd say, "Please give the sheets out Johnny" and instead of "Certainly sir. No problem", you'd be more likely to hear: "Why can't somebody else do it?" or "Do I have to?". You'd give spare pens to penless "students" and they'd often not bother to say "thank you" or even remember to return them.
In ordinary life, I come across supermarket checkout personnel who happily hold private conversations across their conveyor belts as customers stand idly by like invisible people. I sometimes hear unbridled swearing on buses and on aeroplanes seats may be reclined on to your lap with no sign of a simple "Do you mind" from the ignoramus in front.
Flytippers, urban graffiti "artists", tailgaters on motorways, pub customers who won't wait their turn to be served, queue jumpers at bus stops, owners of pavement fouling canines - there are a lot of bad manners around.
As this blog attracts some youthful readers, I thought it might be helpful if we older, more mature, exceedingly well-mannered and fine, upstanding members of our respective communities drew up some guidelines to assist in the promotion of good manners. I'll start the ball rolling with half a dozen rules:-
1) If somebody gives you something - unless it's a sexually transmitted disease or a smack in the mouth - say "thank you".
2) If making a request of any description, supplement it with the simple word "please".
3) Look people in the eye when you are talking to them.
4) If you accidentally drop a piece of litter, pick it up and drop it in the nearest bin.
5) If you own a mobile phone, make sure that it is switched off during meetings, in the theatre or cinema, when travelling on public transport or when attending ceremonies such as funerals.
6) Help older people by holding doors open for them, giving up your seat to them on crowded public transport vehicles or - in the case of known neighbours - simply asking them if there's anything you can do for them.
Please suggest some other rules for those who clearly find the acquisition of good manners extremely challenging.