Whatever else I am, I try to be a gentleman with regard to manners. I say 'please' and 'thank you' a lot and I'm old-fashioned enough to still hold doors open for people with a cheery 'after you' to boot. But in this increasingly screwed up, head-in-its-ass world of apoplexy at the merest gnat's fart of a potential offensive action or remark, I sometimes wonder if manners are worth anything at all. Why bother?
So, what's brought this on. I was entering a shop and, through the glass, I saw a woman heading for the door to leave. I opened the door and said 'after you' with a smile. She looked at me with a face that suggested she had just won gold at the world lemon-sucking championships and said - she actually said: "I'm quite capable of opening my own doors, thank you." And off she glided into the street.
I stood for a moment or two with my jaw scraping the pavement before shaking my head a little and entering the shop. As I browsed, I was aware that I was muttering expletives to myself at this gink of a woman and how she had pretty much ruined my morning which, up to then, had been jolly and upbeat.
My point, I suppose, is that it would have been better had she not said anything at all - and there are plenty of people who do not acknowledge a kindly, well-intentioned gesture like holding a door open. But she had to open her citrus-soaked bake and say what she said.
I don't wish ill on many people but I hope to read in the local paper about a woman with a taut, tight-lipped face and a gold lemon medal round her neck who fell down a manhole and who said to rescuers: 'I'm quite capable of falling into and getting out of my own manholes.'