June 20, 2006


London fails civility test in survey of world cities (Alan Hamilton, The Times, June 20th, 2006)

English good manners, did you say? No, they don’t exist. In fact, we’re as rude as the French, and that’s saying something. They’re more polite even in Zagreb.

For courtesy these days you have to go to New York, a city once famed for its intensely irritating “Have a nice day” culture and for the most ignorant and impatient taxi drivers on the planet.

But, according to a former mayor of the Big Apple, 9/11 changed all that.

Reader’s Digest magazine sent reporters into the principal city of each of the 35 countries in which it publishes to conduct a survey of local politeness. Three tests were employed: dropping papers in a busy street to see if anyone would help; checking how often shop assistants said “thank you”; and counting how often someone held a door open.

London and Paris came a disappointing joint 15th, beaten by such cities as Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid and Prague. New York came top in the survey, with a score of 80 per cent, compared with 57 per cent for London and Paris.

Posted by Peter Burnet at June 20, 2006 6:31 AM

What nonsense about 9/11. I moved to NYC in 1985, and New Yorkers have always been very helpful and courteous. What they are is abrupt -- very direct, talking fast, interrupting, ending conversations quickly and then walking away. Often mistaken for rudeness. But if you get in trouble on the street, New Yorkers will rally to your aid instantly, and almost always say please and thank you. Not true of the European capitals.

Posted by: Lisa at June 20, 2006 9:53 AM

So, don't waste a New Yorker's time, but a New Yorker doesn't think helping someone is a waste of their time.

Makes sense.

Posted by: Ptah at June 20, 2006 12:44 PM

I'm with Lisa. We visited friends in Brooklyn a couple of years ago and I was bowled over by the friendliness and helpfulness. Of course, I had to take a short nap after each encounter...

Posted by: Peter B at June 20, 2006 1:27 PM

Remember the east coast black out a couple of years ago? All those serious lootings happened in the Canadian city of Toronto, while New Yorkers helped each other out in the dark.

Posted by: ic at June 20, 2006 2:53 PM

Giuliani deserves all the blame. I assure you that before he arrived at Gracie Mansion, New York wasn't a very pleasant place.

Posted by: erp at June 24, 2006 2:33 PM