Let’s talk manners

(Photo credit MegaRat)

It takes just 38 seconds to drive up Fort Royal Hill from Worcester’s ‘ghetto’ to des res postcode WR5. It’s a significant hill.  It runs alongside Fort Royal Park, once home to a lot of used needles but famous because Oliver Cromwell routed the Cavaliers there in the Battle of Worcester.  It’s also a rat run, where parked cars challenge the rats.

I recently performed a rather selfless, natty, Starsky and Hutch manoeuvre to give way to a ‘lady’ in a big black, shiny people carrier.  She ignored me.  No smile, no polite hand gesture.  Rude.  I seethed and controlled my own hand.

‘Manners maketh man’.  They do.

Agent Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth in Kingsmen makes the point.

(Photo credit 20th Century Fox SG)

Some of us hearing Colin Firth’s name, have to take a moment … the Mr Darcy emerging from lake scene.

Mr Darcy lake - Manners

His/our decorum recovered, he says:

“Miss Bennett please allow me to apologise for not receiving you properly just now”

… lovely manners.  Of course he got the girl!

When Jane Austen (1775 -1817) dreamt up Darcy, manners, etiquette and being polite were quite the thing!  This kind of behaviour had migrated from the King’s court and influenced the elite -hence the term ‘polite society’.  The new middle class in 19th century Britain was so desperate to fit into the social hierarchy it self-helped: ‘How to behave’ and ‘Hints from a gentleman’.

I was brought up with FHB (family hold back), don’t eat the last sandwich/cake – offer it round, don’t start to eat before everyone’s been served, don’t put your elbows on the table, say please, say thank you.  At 19 in Rome, I was stunned; Italians didn’t stand up for nuns on buses! At 29 and separated in a tube carriage from my friends I clearly remember hearing “Hey Liz, how many more months before you have the baby” … “Just 1”!   A man shot up and offered me his seat …. I don’t think many women even looked up.

Is anybody listening?  I’m frightened good manners will become the stuff of folklore or become extinct.  Don’t you know that self-confidence is underpinned by having good manners?  Manners give you an edge and a leg up; as USA Supreme Court Judge, Clarence Thomas, said:  “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.”

So mind your Ps and Qs!


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