Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Manners maketh man

The motto of Winchester College and almost certainly coined by William of Wykeham, founder of the  College.

Although when the motto was adopted by the College the word "manners" probably had a different meaning from our understanding today, to me it still seems very apt.  Life is so much sweeter when those around us display good manners, and I don't mean good table manners.  Placing one's elbow on the table while discussing a serious point over dinner hardly counts as a major breech of etiquette these days, although seeing a dinner companion chewing with an open mouth is a little off-putting.

I do get slightly irritated on those occasions when I have displayed good manners by holding a door open for a lady and she just sweeps through with no acknowledgement.  It doesn't seem too much to ask for a smile and a 'Thank you'.  I get just as annoyed when I see somebody leave a supermarket till without thanking the cashier, although in that case I am annoyed for the cashier rather than myself.  I sometimes stop and wonder how often I am equally guilty given that it is so easy to be in a hurry or to be worlds away mentally writing tomorrow's blog or some such.

I think that I generally remember to thank the supermarket cashier and the bus driver, but one place where I slipped up for a good many years was in the home.  Every night the Old Bat puts a meal on the table having spent an hour or so preparing it - not to mention the time and effort involved in shopping etc - and it is just too easy to take that for granted.  I do now try to make the effort to express my appreciation, but it is difficult to come up with a different form of words to avoid it sounding either insincere or mere habit.  I console myself that it is the thought that counts.

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