I have a new schtick. Out with sea-change and tree-change. Gone is man-drought and the skills shortage. I will even put on hold my near obsession with the Baby Bust. My newest, and by far the most controversial “cause” of my columnist career, is “manners”.
That’s right, you heard me, manners. I am sick of Australia’s rudeness.
No. Don’t go all “who’s he referring to” on me. I’m talking about you. What do you mean what do I mean?
Let’s start with the fact that you don’t return phone calls or emails. Then we could move on to the fact you are prone to hogging the armrest on planes. I just don’t get this. There’s a shared armrest: why does one person assume they have the right to sovereignty over the entire armrest? Why wouldn’t they think, I’ll share the armrest with my neighbour?
Instead, they seem to think first in gets the armrest or, more likely, what neighbour?
And don’t get me started on drinks functions. Why are people so rude that they happily chat with each other in tight circles so as to exclude people unknown to the group? It’s like “circling the wagons” to keep marauding Indians at bay. (No offence intended towards Indians.)
Or what about when you are at a dinner and someone is speaking and a mobile phone goes off? And the owner pretends they don’t know it’s their phone, so it rings and rings!
Or how about the loud-talking, Bluetooth gesticulator in a public place? You know the sort; they flourish in hotel lobbies and airport lounges. They talk loudly into their telephone headset and pace and punch the air: it’s a look-at-me-I’m-a-man-in-control-type situation. No it’s not. You’re just being rude. And a bit of wanker, actually. Everyone else conducts themselves with quiet decorum and dignity. Why can’t you?
And as for table manners, words fail me. Your fingers should not touch the back of the fork’s tines or the back of the knife’s blade. Your mouth should be closed while you eat. Do not point with your knife. Please, don’t point with your knife. I’ll leave the table if you point with your knife.
And during the meal you should not just talk to the attractive or interesting person seated on your left; speak also to the dull and unattractive person on your right!
Why is it that whenever I am seated at a table I always get the end seat so that if the person next to me doesn’t engage in conversation then I am left sitting like a shag on a rock?
Oh, the relief to be seated next to someone who understands the social etiquette of a balanced conversation. It doesn’t have to sparkle. I am not expecting Billy Crystal witticisms. Just a polite, balanced social exchange.