Modern manners: I'm sure I left them here somewhere...

Posted on: 17 September 2010 by Anthony Martin

I have just become a grandfather. Already I despair about how my grandchildren will grow up amid the lax manners and slipping standards of the modern world.

modern manners

To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher: “We are a Grandfather”.

When I was told of the impending birth, I had extremely mixed feelings. After being initially delighted that my little girl was going to be a mother, there came a sobering thought.

A grandfather

Do I want to be a grandfather? They’re old, grey, balding and stooped. They sleep in the afternoon. They wear cardies and slippers. Worst of all, they have to sleep with grandmothers. This isn't me. I’m upright, virile, chic, fit and healthy. Admittedly, that’s only my opinion.

Little by little, though, your attitude changes. As the saying goes: “If I had known how wonderful grandchildren were, I would have had them first."

They are amazing little things, so much better than your own children were when they were born. Perhaps it’s the fact that you can have the joy without the responsibility, or that you can spoil them rotten because it’s your duty to do so.

They are blank canvases, little sponges ready to soak up whatever you impart. They will learn from those closest to them, they will mimic actions, accents, facial expressions and manners. It is manners that really worry me.

We brought up our daughter in an exemplary fashion. She was a vivacious, happy, cheeky and clearly intelligent little girl. She went to good schools, had a large and very close group of friends and grew up into a rounded independent individual who knew where she was going. She got on well with everyone she met, blended in to all societies and was loved and respected by all.

Then she went to university.

I still love her to bits but she changed. Is this part of maturation? The fish knives were first to come into the cross-hairs. ”I’m not using those ridiculous things any more, what’s wrong with ordinary knives?” Swiftly moving on to: “Why should I iron my clothes? They’re fine.” Continuing with the likes of: “Why can’t I eat standing up?”

She suddenly knew so much more about everything. The fact that I have had twice as much life experience makes absolutely no difference because, and get this: life has changed and moved on. Nothing is as it was: we are all living in a new era. Everything that went before and all we stood for is null and void and fish knives have gone the way of the woolly mammoth.

Now that she’s a mother but more importantly, how are my grandchildren going to grow up? What is this strange new world that they are going to inhabit and what are their values going to be? Obviously not mine or those of my peers.

My daughter has a dining table (with benches) but this is so cluttered that she and my son-in-law eat sitting on the sofa, in front of the TV, with their plates on their laps. Are they ever going to have a family meal and chat around a table?

OK, I accept that many of us have less time to attend to the niceties of life. But it should be expected that a short note of thanks is written, and posted, for an enjoyable evening and not emailed or, worse, texted. “Thnx fr gr8 ml lst nh. Cya."

I can almost imagine the future. Country-wide, examination boards will be accepting text-speak. English Lit.  2b or nt 2b – 1nce mor un2 the breech dr fnds – Nw is the wntr ofur discon10t. And so on and so 4th.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong. Perhaps I am being an old fuddy-duddy, after all I am a grandfather. Pass the cardie.

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