Are you sitting comfortably?
Please read this carefully:
Good manners at sea or anywhere else are like good digestion – if you don’t notice them, they are usually all right.
For those of you who are busy doing nothing on a cruise ship except watching the rest of the passengers go by, you’ll notice that men tend to reserve their most cordial manners for their friends; women reserve them for their enemies.
Rather like the ship’s crew, most of us never treat a guest like a member of the family – we treat a guest with courtesy.
How do you do? Lovely day!
Some passengers prefer to be reclusive but generally speaking most of us want to get along with the other people on the cruise, more or less.
Of course you can start the day by growling and spitting but surely it’s far better to issue a polite ‘Good morning’ to the other passengers – and members of the crew – that you bump into.
If you’re not fully awake, it’s quite acceptable to borrow the British habit of muttering through your clenched teeth the following abbreviated greeting: ‘Mornin’!’
And if you aren’t fortunate enough to be British (;-], you don’t have to adopt our habit of apologising for things that are so slight nobody else would think about them twice.
You know the kind of thing: ‘Sorry…so sorry…pardon…I beg your pardon…’
And that’s just for inadvertently forgetting to let somebody through the door you have just opened – even though they often forget to thank you for this courtesy. Ungrateful bastards.
I’m fine, thank you
I can’t speak for the current generation of British passengers – some of whom seem to have never been schooled in remembering their P’s and Qs (an English expression meaning mind your manners, and/or language, and ‘be on your best behaviour’), but I was brought up to believe that a little courtesy goes a long way.
That’s what my Nan always told me. With a whip in her hand.
Now some of you may be thinking that if you go out of your way to cultivate good manners, you’ll be mistaken for a ship’s steward.
And you may even operate on the theory that you’d don’t need good manners to drive a cruise ship.
But you’d be wrong, for even huge ships have to give way, at times. And so do captains and stewards, when necessary.
Many years ago I worked as a junior salesman for Asprey, the Royal jewellers in New Bond Street, London. One of my colleagues, who, like me, claimed he was brought – not dragged – up, explained that there are bad manners everywhere, but an aristocracy is bad manners organised.
Whichever end of the class spectrum you’ve come from, or think you’ve come from, I guess it’s all to do with being polite. Or at least keeping up appearances.
Cheerio, for now
In my experience, some people are too polite to be up to any good.
And, as will become obvious when you’ve studied the other passengers for a while, the less a person knows about you, the politer that person is.
As Samuel Johnson once said, ‘Politeness is like an air cushion: there may be nothing in it, but it eases our jolts wonderfully.’
Sydney Smith put it even better, ‘Politeness is good nature regulated by good sense.’
Thank you for your time and attention.