in the UK we live in an ordinary town full of ordinary people. I have lived in the ordinary part of ordinary towns all my life but gradually I am beginning to feel that the ordinary British people have forgotten their manners.
A few weeks ago I was in an ordinary supermarket looking intently at something on the lower shelf when I felt a slight nudge against my leg. Then another one. I looked up to find a woman pushing her trolley against my leg to alert me to the fact that I was in her way.
She didn’t look like the kind of person I should argue with so I stepped aside to let her pass then stepped back again to continue looking at the lower shelf. Not a word passed between us and I was amazed that this could happen and that I should not feel outraged. It made me think what on earth have we come to in this country? Manners don’t cost anything but they mean such a lot.
As I walk along the pavements in my ordinary town, I find myself stepping off into the road to avoid having pushchairs being shoved at me. If two or three teenagers are coming the other way, side by side, occupying the whole pavement, I will brace myself for the inevitable jousting – who will step aside to let the others pass and what kind of language will I overhear? Will I be a target for sniggering or abuse if I proceed in such a fashion that suggests I expect them to show respect to an adult? (I find having a large dog with me, even a ginger fluffy one, often helps.)
The other thing that makes me cringe is hearing the F-word in public. I am no saint when it comes to the use of swearwords but I just can’t get used to the fact that foul language can be heard as a normal part of conversation everywhere. In private conversation it doesn’t bother me at all but I find it especially unsettling when it used between parents and children in public.
In our little corner of France, when I step out of the door and head into the village I will meet people who politely say “bonjour” to me even they may not know who I am. They say “bonjour” to everyone in the shop as they enter, the same to the person serving before they ask for their shopping and they say “au revoir” to everyone as they leave.
If youngsters are coming the other way I don’t feel uncomfortable or threatened. When they meet up with their friends they are likely to exchange bisous and handshakes and they seem to be polite to their elders. Maybe I think they’re not using swearwords because I don’t know what they are in French but one thing’s for sure – I don’t mind whether or not all this apparent politeness and good manners is sincere and heartfelt because it’s so much nicer to be around.
Writing now on the 4th April, they said yesterday it might snow, but I didn’t think it would amount to much.
I was wrong !! This is the view from our upstairs window at 7am and it’s still snowing. On 28th March it was 14°C as I drove to work and it reached 22°C in the afternoon, better than it often is in the summer.
The weather could well be the next thing on my list of pro’s and con’s !!