March 1, 2018

ON NOT BEING IN FRANCE:

An outbreak of good manners (Theodore Dalrymple, 2/28/18, Salisbury Review)

I am so used to lamentation - my own, that is - that I know that I am sometimes inclined to overlook how much better certain things have become of late years. We notice deterioration; we take improvement for granted the moment they have occurred.

Among the things that have improved in the London Underground. I spent most of my early life in London but am now only an occasional visitor, and I never cease to be astonished by the improvement in the underground service. The trains are cleaner, more rapid, more frequent better-ventilated, roomier and quieter than I remember them. I recall with a kind of condescending or indulgent amusement that the civilised are inclined to employ towards the primitive that people once actually smoked in them and took the fug for granted, as a quasi-natural phenomenon.

Another thing by which my wife and I have been surprised is the politeness of the passengers: they invariably stand up for her and when they see that I am with her, they stand for me too. They do so with an ease, grace and naturalness that that suggests that their politeness is habitual. Even those whom I would otherwise tend to regard as tattooed monsters often offer us this courtesy. Sometimes I don't even have to be with my wife for a seat to be given up for me.

Posted by at March 1, 2018 6:27 PM

  

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