Mind your manners

News & Politics

Good etiquette is about kindness, consideration, and taking personal responsibility. Lynne Truss, the author of "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" has a new book lamenting "an age of lazy moral relativism combined with aggressive social insolence." "Talk to the Hand" includes this compelling piece of anecdotal evidence:

Truss cites the case of Janet Street-Porter who, while filming a documentary about education, tried to drum the importance of apologising into a class of children. "In every family home," she told them, "there's a word which people find it really hard to say to each other. It ends in 'y'. Can anyone tell me what it is?" A long and agonised pause followed, broken only by one boy shouting out - quite seriously - "Is it buggery?"
But the reviewer John Preston does his best to end the article on this upbeat note:
Yet, as I discovered recently on a late-night bus, the flame of etiquette has not been snuffed out completely. On the seat in front of me was a young couple. The man was trying to thrust his hand under the woman's skirt. After he had made several, unsuccessful attempts, the woman slapped him on the wrist and said sharply, "Oi cocker! Titties first."
Manners, as you can see, are also so often a matter of stating the obvious. [Arts & Letters]

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