Peering through slitted eyes at my at my fellow subjects, a practice I try to avoid as much as possible, I would assess them as being, on the whole, incredibly ugly, mostly badly dressed, inarticulate but loud-mouthed plebs (yes, that word again!) with whom one would not wish to enter a jungle! The fact that their assessment of me would not be much better is neither here nor there but would serve to convince me that the British, on the whole, are to be avoided. So imagine my surprise on reading a report at The Coffee House from an American visitor, actually Joe Queenan of the WSJ, who was stunned by the innate good manners of us Brits demonstrated to him over and over again on a recent visit to our 'septic Isle':
Three times in the space of 24 hours young men offered their subway seats to my
wife, who is neither elderly nor pregnant. They seemed to do this out of a sense
that giving up one's seat to a person at least one generation older was the sort
of thing gentlemen did, even though not one of them fit the narrow technical
definition of a gentleman. One guy looked like a gangster.
Would it be cynical to surmise that Mrs. Queenan is drop-dead gorgeous? Yes, of course it would because Mr. Queenan has other examples:
‘At the Kensington High Street tube station, we had trouble figuring out the Oyster Card transit payment system. A very young Underground employee, noticing our confusion, offered to insert the coins for us. This sort of thing never happens in New York, where being perplexed is viewed as a sign of mental impairment.’
OI! I yell in my typically Brit-yob voice, how come this Yank gets good treatment when every time I stand utterly perplexed in front of all those complicated ticket-thingies in the underground the staff are all too busy gossiping and telling each other what a great shag they had on Saturday night rather than assist a poor old-age-pensioner like me? But Mr. Queenan is relentless, the British are jolly, spiffin' friendly and nice and he won't hear a word against them:
In the market town of Stroud, a clerk walked about a quarter-mile across a supermarket to show me where the sparkling water was. But the real capper was when I visited the post office In my suburban New York town there is a post-office employee so belligerent that people drive to the next town to ship their packages. That town is 5 miles away. And the employees there aren’t all that much nicer. But at the post office in beautiful downtown Stroud, the helpful staff didn’t act like I was brain-damaged because I did not know how much postage to put on a postcard to Canada. Nor did they act like the world owed them a living.
Crikey! He should try the monosyllabic old grump who runs our village post office! Still, on consideration perhaps he's right. I mean, be fair, one only has to read this typically British blog to get the feel of what a pleasant, tolerant and good humoured bunch of people we are . . . sorry, did you say something? . . . lookin' for bovver, are you? . . . well, piss off . . .