You can’t be truly rude until you understand good manners

Not being of noble blood, although like most natives of these crowded isles I’ve probably got a trace somewhere in the distant ancestry, I’ve always taken encouragement from the aphorism “To be born a gentleman is a matter of luck, to die one is an achievement”.

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I try therefore to be courteous to all, to only be rude to people when I intend to be, to help others when needed but otherwise pass unnoticed through life.

This is doubtless a product of the country and age I grew up in, a Britain in which the guiding principles were :-

a) Mind your own business, and

b) Don’t behave in such a selfish, obtrusive or objectionable way that someone else will be required to complain, therefore being forced not to mind their own business.

Today’s Britain has changed immensely, mostly for the better. The stifling deference to authority has all but disappeared, perhaps too much so but in general beneficially.  Conformity is less evident, allowing people in minority groups to be mainstream and apart as the fancy takes them.

What we used to consider strong language is now, like an audible form of litter, abounding in our streets and public places. The people using such language are not doing so in an aggressive or threatening manner, its just the way they speak. The people themselves, usually young, are probably unaware of the effect it has on some others, but are in most cases otherwise courteous, kind and thoughtful. They are also noticeably more at ease with each other and people in general than was the case when I was younger.

We are unquestionably, to my mind, more tolerant nowadays than previous generations. What has come with this though, is that now people can be selfish, incompetent or untruthful to an unbelievable extent without attracting opprobrium, what they must not be, ever, is rude.

Recently a car pulled out from a side road right in front of me, in town so I was doing about 30 mph, causing me to brake very sharply. I flashed my lights and sounded my horn, to make sure that the driver had seen how near a miss they had had (And to vent my fury). About half a mile further up the road we both pulled into the same car park. The driver rushed over to explain that they had not been being rude, they just hadn’t seen me.

They would rather I thought them an incompetent driver and a menace to public safety than that I would think them rude. Unfortunately I have neither the breeding nor the manners to be properly rude to people like that, so I just smiled. Wimp.

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