A Word In Your Ear - July 26, 2018

Belching Brits and their terrible table manners
Belching Brits and their terrible table manners
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I fear we’re becoming a nation of uncouth slobs; taking our plentiful life for granted and, as a school report once reprimanded me, ‘wallowing in the sloth’.

My father was a working man; mother a housewife who also did odd jobs. Back in those grey 1950s and early 60s, people were grateful for what little they had and learned to cope.

But they still taught children manners, some pride in appearances and inspired a will to improve. Streets were clean, kids obedient and my school motto was Manners Maketh Man.

Now few young people can use a knife and fork. They shovel with fork and fingers, perhaps feet on a handy chair, staring at screens. Even prosperous ‘ladies who lunch’ pick at food with forks – American style, perhaps inspired by TV cookery programmes where judges often do the same. As children, we were once shocked by a diner at a seaside café who complained his steak was small, then sliced it up and ate it with a fork.

“Must be a Yank!” said dad. Americans were wealthy but lacked our manners from generations of culture.

Abroad, we admire the dexterity of chopstick users – with their own codes, such as not eating left-handed as it nudges a neighbour’s elbow.

Many rice-based cultures favour a practical spoon and fork, but no one eats as badly as Brits now do.

We’re also usually the worst dressed – either ‘grungy’ or ‘flash’, while often hideously obese.

Why is it those fattest favour the tightest leggings? We’re even lazy in speech, picking up clumsy American expressions and ‘like’ text-speak.

People eat far in excess of what’s needed, wasting much. We’re building up medical problems, while losing respect around the world. At our health centres the fittest specimens are the babies. Hopefully, they’ll do better than ourselves . . .

But who will teach them?

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