YOUTH MATTERS: Good manners by Francesca Cotton

What are good manners? I was brought up to hold doors, let people through before me, say thank you, and so on.

Today, I find there is a distinct lack of any consideration for other people.

How hard is it to move aside on a pavement or hold a door for someone? Is it pure rudeness, or do people actually think it is not important any more?

For example – while walking to the train station this morning, I found the pavement in front of me blocked by schoolgirls walking three abreast. Oh god, I thought. They are far taller and look four years older than me (despite the fact I’m 22).

In the moments leading up to what could be a head-on collision on the pavement, several things go through my mind: are they going to move aside? Should I move aside? What are the chances of being hit by a car if I do step off the pavement? I decide the latter is rather likely so in order to avoid being mown down by a car, I continue walking.

Eventually I meet the girls head-on. No one moves. I brush shoulders with one and expect a mouthful of abuse to ensue. It does not, and I live to fight another day. It is sad that many of us are now ready to expect aggression from younger people.

With younger people, you could pin their lack of manners on the fact that it is just not instilled in them the way it used to be. But surely a lot of it is common sense?

It is not just the younger generation either. Older people are guilty of it, too. I find it harder to excuse them, but maybe it is a cynical thing – younger people are rude so why should they bother holding doors for them?

Personally, when someone holds the door for me or says ‘after you’, it does bring a smile to my face. It shows some human consciousness, an awareness of others. Something which has become rare in an age when people are usually attached to iPods or their phones.

I accept that people are not likely to change overnight, but I have decided that letting people know you are annoyed is best.

A sarcastic ‘that’s OK, you’re welcome’ is my personal favourite. It does not solve the problem, but it may well make people think twice.