I miss the good old times when proper breeding was in fashion and words like THANK YOU, I’M SORRY and PLEASE were used everywhere by everyone. It was women’s task to instil etiquette in their children. And if some unruly youth was resilient to the teachings of his mother, grandmother or aunt, then the head of a family stepped in, and with a stern look or a quick slap to the back of the offender’s head, got the rebellious individual back on an even keel.
In the past people lived in smaller groups and everyone knew everyone. The pressure of society was so high that if someone put a toe out of line, he was kicked back to his proper place immediately. And that alone was enough to curb ill manners and boorish behaviour. The fear of embarrassing oneself and humiliating one’s family stopped many Victorian lads and lasses from misbehaving. Losing one’s face equalled society suicide and no decent person wanted to socialize with an outcast.
Nowadays people have a bit more relaxed approach towards etiquette. What’s more, modern parents show a disturbing leniency in bringing up their children. The kids are often given an unlimited freedom to do and say whatever they want, with no regard for other people’s feelings.
Sometimes I feel that good manners are no longer high on society’s list of personal accomplishments. In this day and age people haven’t got time to be polite. There are more important things to do than help an elderly lady cross the street. And if you know magic words like MAY I…?, COULD YOU…?, THANKS and PLEASE then it means your parents brought you up well. It also means you are in a minority because these days good behaviour is passé de mode, a thing of Victorian times.
I consider myself a polite and well-brought-up person because my mother devoted a lot of time and energy to teach me social etiquette. She taught me to distinguish between right and wrong and always pointed me in the right direction. My mother was a strict parent – I had many duties and very little freedom but that stopped me from turning into a reckless and irresponsible child. She raised me in the old fashion way and I am very grateful for it.
Being the person I am, I have little patience with boorishness and I stay clear of rude people whenever it is possible. In difficult and stressful situations I try to remain calm and remember that my ancestors no longer occupy trees and caves. But I must admit that there are times when I feel compelled to high five certain people in the face with a thick volume of ‘Etiquette for dummies’. I am not a violent person but even I have my limits!
And talking about books I have just finished an incredible book by Amy Alkon titled Good manners for nice people who sometimes say F*ck. The book is funny, informative and provoking at the same time. The authoress gives sound and proper etiquette advice covering every aspect of life. She answers the most burning questions about manners and proper behaviour, including:
- how to hush a loud neighbour without the necessity of hiring a hitman,
- how to respond to hate comments on social media,
- how to use a mobile phone properly,
- how to end an awkward acquaintance in the least painful way,
- how to keep your face in a disgraceful situation,
- how to travel by bus / car / plane without causing other passengers bodily injury or psychological trauma (and stop them from throwing you out, head first, onto the street),
- how to survive a social gathering when you’re the only person who knows how to use a knife and a fork,
- how to remain cool, calm and collected when you are surrounded by cavemen.
Good manners for nice people who sometimes say F*ck is a great read. It offers various tips on etiquette and explains, in a hilarious way, dos and don’ts of a polite society. It shows the reader the right and proper way of dealing with rude people and problematic issues. So if you are looking for a book that is funny, has useful tips and is entertaining at the same time, then this is a fantastic piece to have on your bookshelf.