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Standing up for decent manners

PUBLISHED: 09:40 30 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:59 06 July 2010

REGULAR readers know that bad manners are my big bugbears.

Pig-ignorant behaviour, rudeness, lack of consideration and common ill manners - there's never an excuse.

REGULAR readers know that bad manners are my big bugbears.

Pig-ignorant behaviour, rudeness, lack of consideration and common ill manners - there's never an excuse.

I see red when people don't say please and thank you - and it's not just children and the young who grab and run - barge to the front of queues, refuse to give up their seats or lend a helping hand to someone struggling in the street.

I hate anything that smacks of a lack of respect for another human being; people who believe they are superior to others because of their bulbous bank balance and who rank people according to their shallow 'social importance' rather than who they really are.

People who turn the other cheek and refuse to stop and help a person in need deserve nothing but contempt.

And I can rant for England after trips to town or the supermarket where the lack of consideration and finesse of people who barge their own way through believing they are the most important person on this earth is astounding.

And against the drivers who never put their hand up to acknowledge you've pulled over to let them through, who swiftly and sneakily nip into a parking space you're patiently waiting for, who never thank you for standing and holding a door open for them.

People have accused me of being too much of a “people pleaser” - that might be hard to believe considering some things I write - and a soft touch by going out of my way to be courteous.

But I believe politeness and simply being nice makes the world a better place for everyone.

I always try to smile at people serving in shops, invite people queuing behind me with small baskets of shopping to go ahead of my laden trolley and will happily stand for minutes outside big stores holding open the door for other customers.

I always, without fail, let drivers out of side roads or car parks into a line of traffic, however much hurry I'm in.

People notice and remember the little things and appreciate the effort - even if some thick idiots don't.

And, I'm a great believer in karma. What goes around comes around. If we treat others how we wish to be treated it all gets right in the end. One good turn always deserves another.

I've invested much hot air in urging my boys have lovely manners, hammered into them since they were toddlers. “What do you say?”

It's paid off and if they stick to what they know they will make their little place in the world happier for everyone.

So when I saw a goonish father lurking behind his teenage son, defending him for refusing to stand up out of respect when the headmaster entered the classroom, I wanted to shake his blubbery shoulders until his beer belly exploded for being so small-minded.

Tim Walton, unemployed and by the look of him good for little apart from downing beer and causing trouble, was standing by 15-year-old Daniel, from Macclesfield, saying his son was right to remain seated when head Kevin Harrison walked into a room.

Daniel was expelled for refusing to stand and throwing a bit of cheek in for good measure.

I wanted to expel him to another universe when he said he had told his son that people needed to “earn respect” before it was shown.

Easy perhaps to see why Mr Walton - even he deserves the respect of a proper title - is out of work if he goes into a workplace with that attitude.

A headmaster has earned respect because he holds the post of head. It's how society works. Unless Daniel learns that fast he'll end up like his father a charmless oafish unemployable lump being kept, incidentally, by the people he believes should earn his respect.

But sadly Mr Walton is in a growing minority who see no need for respect or manners to anyone else and are passing on their rude selfishness on to their children who will have not a hope in hell of succeeding in our still, but for how long, civilised society.

Half term arrived when it felt like they had only just gone back to school.

If your week has been anything like mine, you'll be wrung out from your unpaid jobs as entertainer, taxi driver, travel planner, chief cook and bottle washer and childminder as well as holding down the day job.

My older son persuaded me in a weak moment to have three 12 and 13-year-olds for a sleep over. Outside it was raining, inside it was indoor cricket.

Stumps became an art installation in the hall and chunks were knocked out of the masonry by over zealous bowling by two county under-13 players.

The sleepover was a misnomer with the racket finally subsiding at 3.30am.

But, despite the bombsite and dark shadows it left behind, I'd far prefer my boys to feel welcome to fill their home with their friends knowing there is always a full fridge, a (relatively) easy going mum and a ready made wicket than roaming the streets.

After all, before we know it school holidays will be a distant memory and we'll be willing them to ring home once a week.

Personal successes against the odds always make my heart sing.

Witnessing someone, written off at an early age as a no-hoper, exceeding their own let alone their former teachers' expectations and achieving qualifications and awards they never dreamed possible is wonderful.

Pride and self-esteem palpable through their beaming smiles and those of their families.

At a graduation ceremony last week I watched graduates accepting honours degrees who had turned up at a further education college five years ago at 16 considering themselves “non academic.”

Some, to be frank, were a total pain to their lecturers in the first terms, unlikely to stay the course or make the grade.

But, choosing a vocational route, they took learning at a new pace and followed a pathway all the way to degree level without having to leave home and rack up huge debts.

It's a different way of becoming a graduate but not a lesser way.

These graduates in their caps and gowns are beacons of hope to those who don't fit the one-size-fits all comprehensive-to sixth form-to university model.

Not everyone has to take the A level sixth form route to put letters after their name.

The vocational route - qualifications designed with employers - is a route not shouted about enough.

Whatever the feelings about sweaty shifty Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time, personally the saddest moment for me was explaining to my two children in 2009 what the BNP stood for before he took his place beside politicians as an apparent mainstream party and watching incredulity and upset spread across their faces.

Twenty years, not even a decade ago, would I have believed this even a remote possibility.

It all feels a bit fishy when the Department of Health starts dictating our Christmas lists.

Not content with invading every other area of our lives, Whitehall Mandarins are now setting Father Christmas' agenda for children and adult alike.

It's beginning to feel more like Beijing than Beccles.

The nation would be a better place if we all woke up on Christmas morning to find a Nintendo Wii in our stockings.

The Department of Health is endorsing the Wii Fit and Fit Plus for couch potatoes and Nintendo is putting money into Change4Life. Hope the Government is getting commission to put back into the NHS to deal with all the joint injuries.

They will probably issue a diktat to all get on them at 6.30 am for a nationwide Tokyo-style motivation work out.

I think I'll stick to chasing the dog.

Beautifulpeople.com is a dating agency reserved for those at the peak of physical perfection to create a spooky “worldwide community of beauty.”

As the most beautiful people are often the most tiresome, vain, empty, dull and sometimes nasty, dismissive people it should be a community well worth bypassing.

Uglies should not apply. In my experience the less attractive are the kindest, loveliest, most fun to be with people.

Beautiful people are welcome to each other.

Husband balked when reading that our profile ticked the boxes for the most happy marriage and least likely to divorce.

The secret to a happy marriage is as simple as choosing a wife who is smarter than you and at least five years younger with neither with a divorce under their belts, according to academics at the University of Bath.

I'm five years younger than him and, as a university graduate, can boast higher qualifications.

“If we have the secret I pity the poor people who don't,” he said, quite shell-shocked.

So seven-year-olds are to get careers advice to encourage them to think of the future.

So in 10 years' time there will be queues of boys wanting to be astronauts, train drivers, inventers and fire-fighters and girls wanting to be princesses, snow queens and vets.

Another misguided use of taxpayers' money.

Day after day we see new images of young men ripped apart by bombs in action in Afghanistan leaving them limbless but never hopeless.

If ever was a year for everyone to wear a poppy to display solidarity and put money their way it is this year.

And every school should set aside half a day for every age group to explain exactly what the poppy symbolises and what the appeal means and just what the armed forces sacrifice.

Typical man.

Affronted that his act Danyl was in the X-Factor sing-off, Simon Cowell turned his anger on the women for spending too much time in front of the mirror.

Instead of dealing with his frustration, he summoned Cheryl Cole and Danni Minogue to remind them it was a talent not a fashion show and ordered them, in future, to be preened and ready 30 minutes before curtain up.

His outburst will ring true with many a wife.

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