In my favourite Georgette Heyer book, Cotillion, there is a lovely hero, a burbling not very bright man called Freddie. He is aristocratic, impeccably dressed but most of all he has the best manners of anyone in the world. Manners maketh the man so they say, or woman of course and at one point in the story Freddie is being critical of someone and he says 'kind of fellow who behaves scaly to waiters' and that is the point.
I have just been to Athens and stayed in two five star hotels. It being the close of the seasons these places are cheaper than when the season is in full throttle during July and August. It's my birthday and it has become customary for my lovely daughter and me to spend the days around it doing something wonderful.
The only blot on these things is rude people and hush, dare we say it? Some of them are British.
Why do people leave their manners at home when they go on holiday? I'm presuming they don't behave like this at home but then maybe they do, maybe they are just so full of themselves that they are rude all the time. I don't think this is to do with culture or customs. I addressed several English people and was ignored. I'm not easily ignored. My daughter tells me I can be very loud so perhaps they don't care for my bouncing Tigger impression or perhaps to be put crudely they are so far up their own backsides that they don't notice other people.
By October the people who work in the hotels are finished, knackered. They've put in many hard hours early and late and they don't need the hassle.
Standing in the foyer of the wonderful Grand Bretagne hotel in Athens, waiting to be checked in, people pushed past us, told us they were more important than we are, that they had less time than we did and their designer clothes presumably were there to show how very much they mattered.
Nobody speaks unless it's to get themselves somewhere. I'm embarrassed for them.
The thing about manners is that it's all about making things easier. The reason you're supposed to spoon your soup away from you is so that it doesn't end up in your lap. You can put a napkin on your lap too and that stops you needing a dry cleaner. You wait in line because it means everybody gets a turn. You can even think of it as better for you. Unless somebody's rude to you first you don't do it to them and most importantly of all you never ever humiliate anyone who is hard working and doing his best. You don't start eating before other people because it means you're finished when they are halfway through and it mucks things up if you're having three courses and in any case why would you want to? The best dinners of course are those you share.
So remember, folks, do unto others as you would have them do to you and as Bertie Wooster might say, What ho, old bean.'