I despair that so many people these days don’t seem to have much pride. Not in their surroundings or their appearance.
Messy hair, clothes that look like charity shop rejects, and this is not when they are cleaning the house or gardening, this is out on the streets and in bars and restaurants. People who leave their overflowing dustbins outside their home all week, front gardens full of more rubbish. Then there are those who fly tip in beauty spots! If they can get it there by car, why on earth don’t they take it to the tip?
I have a holiday apartment I let out to holiday makers. As I used to live there it has been furnished and decorated to the highest standard. But some of my guests are remarkably slovenly. I find gone off food left in the fridge, my towels look as if they’ve cleaned the car with them, rubbish on the floor and the state of the bathroom is unbelievable. I even found dog poo on a bed once.
I couldn’t leave a mess like that because I’d be ashamed of what people would think of me.
Interestingly, without exception these people have been from the well-educated, middle classes, staying with their ill-mannered children. Do they assume as they’ve paid to stay there that means they can trash the flat if they wish? Or do they believe it’s my comeuppance for having the audacity to own a holiday home?
Whatever happened to conversation? Is that going the same way as pride?
I would hasten to add I do get many sweetie-pies too who leave it so clean and tidy you wouldn’t think anyone had been staying there. But like book reviews, the bad ones kind of cancel out the lovely ones.
Don’t even get me on appalling table manners! I’ve seen so many children shovelling food into their mouths with their hands. I’ve seen them licking the plate, and even leaning over it to lap up food like a dog! The parents aren’t much better, chewing with mouth hanging open, elbows on tables, tearing food apart rather than cutting it.
I wouldn’t want to see my step mother’s way of teaching table manners coming back. She kept a cane on the table and if one of us turned our fork up the wrong way to shovel in food, or failed to use the left hand for bread and butter, whack, down came the cane. As a result I feel guilty scooping up peas on an upturned fork even when I’m eating alone. But there has to be a balance between making meals a misery and allowing children to eat like animals.
Table manners and polite behaviour also come down to taking pride in producing children who know how to behave in public. They shouldn’t go haring round restaurants annoying other people, or speaking so loudly it disturbs.
I also hate people playing constantly on mobile phones! But that’s a whole other subject. Whatever happened to conversation? Is that going the same way as pride?
Maybe I’m turning into a female Victor Mildrew, but on a recent holiday when I saw a big four generation family of Italians having a meal together, I was impressed at small children behaving perfectly, teenagers talking quietly and respect being shown for the oldest family members.
I’d be so proud if my family were so well-behaved.
The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse is published by Michael Joseph and is available online and from all good booksellers.