Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Manners maketh man

A neighbour came to our house the other day to ask us to sign a petition. The local post office is threatened with closure which will have an adverse effect on the ageing population. I know it must be ageing because another funeral parlour has opened in the village, no doubt to take the overspill from the many retirement homes and sheltered accommodations in the area. Personally, it seems a strange place to retire to; the village is not pretty and is more of a dormitory for London than anything else and, of course, there's the local hospital for the criminally insane – sorry, politically incorrect there - high-security psychiatric hospital from which inmates occasionally escape. At the other end of the village is a well-known public school from which some of the inmates would like to escape.

Nonetheless, postal services must be maintained and we were happy to affix our signatures. After he had left my husband told me what the neighbour had said as he came into the house. The dogs had rushed to the door with their customary enthusiastic curiosity and as the neighbour was invited in he said, 'I don't know how you can live with all these dogs.' It was not a jocular comment, more of a complaint.

Perhaps next time we see him we should comment on his decor – or clothing – or choice of car. 'How can you live with that wallpaper?' we could say, or 'H'mmm, don't think much of your curtains.'

It's foolish to trouble myself over these minor irritations, I know, but while I try to be courteous to people, all too often some are, at best, thoughtless. Someone once sat in my house drinking sherry and said, 'I could do such a lot with this room.' Others have made to sit down, looked at the seat and remained standing. Our house is a home, not a show house and there is wear and tear (and animal hair) on the furniture, marks on the wall, mud on the floor, dead rats in the cupboards (okay, I'm exaggerating – only one dead rat) but I'll bet our house is intrinsically cleaner since animals create a lot of washing (see the previous post 'I live to launder') and we have wooden floors to make floor cleaning quicker and easier.


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