Someone said to me the other day that “manners cost nothing”. And he was right. And to be fair I probably shouldn’t have told him to go and fuck himself after he’d simply asked me what the time was.
Only some of that paragraph is actually true.
I do hate it when people ask me the time.
But it did make me think a little bit. Manners are uncool nowadays, aren’t they? Being polite is like a sign of weakness. It’s almost as if natural selection is killing off all the lovely people. Cunts rise to the top of the food chain.
We live in a world where Cowell and Sugar disguise impoliteness as honesty for entertainment. But it’s all bollocks. It’s not entertaining to see some poor, vulnerable individual ripped apart on peak-time television because a pre-pubescent producer with the morality of Skeletor’s scrotum has decided that it’s their turn to be humiliated this week.
Does Cowell exercise this same honesty in his private life? What will the high-trousered new father do when the fruit of his face-lifted loins returns home from nursery with its first painting? A swirl of thick red poster paint resembling the remains of an inquisitive red panda at the bottom of a food blender that Cowell Jr. has gleefully titled “Daddy”!
Will he grit his teeth and declare “That’s wonderful darling! Stick it on the fridge with Harry Styles’ latest charcoal drawing of his cock!”? Or will he be honest? Will he be impolite?
“That’s absolutely awful. You clearly have the artistic capability of Rolf Harris’ conscience. I wouldn’t commission you to paint Lee Marvin’s wagon. Louis, what do you think …?”
But then, I’m as guilty as him. I sit and watch The X Factor with the sole purpose of tweeting mean things about the hopefuls. I’m a hypocrite. I pick and choose. But then, we all do.
We are, if you think about it, naturally impolite creatures. Manners are learnt not innate. Manners are forced upon us. As children we are all potent balls of selfishness. All “I want”, not “please may I have”.
If you get a job where you have to deal with the public on a daily basis you get training on how to deal with them. On what to say. We aren’t trusted to be polite on our own. I had a pizza delivered the other day by a delivery guy who basically recited a carefully prepared, polite, delivery message that ended with an “enjoy your evening” and a thumbs up. And throughout this, in my head, I was screaming “just give me the fucking pizza and fuck off” … I was too polite to say it to his face.
I am, though, a big fan of politeness. Of pleases and thank yous. Of listening to people when they’re talking to you. Of not interrupting. Of apologising when you’ve done something wrong. It’s respectful. It’s what elevates us. From the animals. From the French. And yet …
… I do feel uncomfortable when people are too polite. What are they hiding? What contempt bubbles underneath the surface of their sunny disposition? Show me an overly polite person and I’ll show you a closet serial killer who’s too close to their mother with a penchant for making lamp shades out of the skin of cheerleaders that ignored them in High School.
It’s a fine line between friendly and creepy. Manners do cost nothing. But then, neither does the Argos catalogue …