The Pillow Book of Prudence…

On etiquette. I was prompted to think on etiquette when my social media profile page was interfered with.  On the nature of those people who think it amusing to create software that intrudes on someone’s life.  Which led me to think about lack of etiquette in other areas.  Most notably mobile phones.

I once belonged to a social embroidery group and some of the partakers felt it was quite fine to allow their phones to ring as we all sat chatting and stitching. That it was perfectly in order to take the calls in front of everyone and to talk and then finish the call without a word of apology. Are these people so self- important that they cannot turn their phones off for the hour or two they spend in the company of others?  Do they think the world will stop turning if the phone switches to message-bank?  Do they believe we want or need to hear their every word?

I have had holidays where I have mingled with a group of women on the beach.  Many of them found it necessary to take their mobile phones.  What makes it necessary?  The fact that  a loved one might be sick?  That an emergency requires their attention? That may be so, but it never ever happened. Instead, the soporific sounds of the waves, of seabirds, and even of watery silence was destroyed by the every present ‘ring’ and then the awful conversation thereafter.

In this second week of February, I was prompted to think back to my mother’s generation. Who found it polite and politic to concentrate their attention wholly on their hostess or their friends.  I was reminded that even earlier, perhaps in Jane Austen’s day for example, people would attend others most often only on invitation and then between set hours and following a standard code of behaviour by the received and the receiver.  And whilst the rigorous nature of such a thing has relaxed, has it not relaxed so far as to be simple bad manners?

I can see that I belong in an era when invitations where sent, where they were responded to in writing, where manners made the man (and woman), where diffidence and lack of ego were much appreciated in a person and where black, my friends, was only worn when one was in mourning.