I'm sorry but it is time for me to release my grumpy old woman on the world!
Yesterday a woman closed a swing bridge practically in my face because she didn't want to delay her dog walk by the 20 odd seconds it would have taken me to pass through.
Today I met a working boat and butty. I'm very tempted to name and shame but I won't. They were approaching on quite a narrow part of the canal. Since I know they need every bit of water they can get, I slowed to tick over and practically drove my boat up the side of the bank so they could get by easily. As the male skipper of the motor boat came alongside I said 'Good Morning' and smiled. Now I know what many working boatmen are like so I didn't expect warm gratitude or even a whole sentence. But I also didn't expect to be utterly ignored as if I didn't exist in the same universe as him! I mentioned this blanking to the woman steering the butty but she just said 'Oh he's always like that'. Why??? What does a nod to acknowledge someone's courtesy cost? Is saying good morning somehow lowering him to the grotty standard of your normal boater? I know those with vintage or working boats consider themselves to be the aristocracy of the canals and rather above the rest of us, but courtesy costs nothing and it's really horrible to be treated like you don't exist.
To complete my day, I was returning from the supermarket in Rugby. I was laden with shopping, in my back pack and with a full old ladies trolley. I was on a narrow pavement with a steep curb when I heard the repeated ringing of a cycle bell getting closer and closer behind me. I stopped and looked at the young man who was forced to slow down from racing speed. He waved me out of the way! I asked him where he expected me to go? He said 'into the road, I want to get by'. I said 'What with my full trolley? Why can't you ride into the road. You are a young man on a vehicle. You shouldn't be on the pavement in the first place!' He swerved round me onto the road and uttered an expletive I won't repeat here, before mounting the curb back onto the pavement.
What is happening to us as a society? Rudeness seems to be everywhere. Is it because we are fed incivility and rudeness by our media, our politicians, big business? Are we all just too much in a hurry to be courteous? Are we so driven to be first, fastest or best that we will trample over others to get our way?
Well not me! I shall continue to be courteous to working boatmen whether they choose to respond in kind or not. I will open lock gates or swing bridges for others when I am in the position to do so. I will doff my cap at passers by and say, 'Oh no, after you my dear fellow'.
Who is with me? Shall we start a quiet revolution? Shall we bring courtesy, chivalry and good manners back, even if we are met with ignorance? Let's make our corner of the world just a little more polite and a little bit more pleasant for us all.