The Manners Manifesto 2012

It was new year, 2008. I felt it was time to “solve the problems of the world before it’s too late.” I know, a lofty ambition. But I’d worked out that we held the key to making the world a better place and that waiting around for politicians to sort it out for us was going to be a long one. I was pretty concerned about the environment in those days (still am, but I’m rather more fatalistic about the planet now – it’s clearly too late to save it), and none of what I went on to propose was going to mend the sky or wash the oceans or slow down the melting of the ice caps. It was simply a desire to adopt Derek Batey’s famous sign-off from Mr & Mrs:

Be nice to each other.

What followed was The Manners Manifesto. I felt then, and I still feel now, that it is within our gift as individuals to make the world a better place, especially the world immediately around us, by returning to – or a formalising the continuation of – good manners. I republish the Manners Manifesto here as more people subscribe to and read my blog, and I have more “followers”, thanks to Twitter, and I feel it may strike a few chords with the decent folk who “follow” me. Also, I wanted to give it a spring clean and update it to include manners on the internet, a burning issue.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Smile. Not all the time. Not at everybody. They’ll lock you up. But smile at the person who sells you your ticket at the station. Smile at the person behind the counter at the newsagent, and be glad we still even have ticket sellers and newsagents. Try this: look at yourself reflected in the train window, or the shopfront: your default face is one of tight-lipped, frown-headed anxiety. And with good reason. Now reconfigure it. Don’t show your teeth, this is England (or at least, it is where I’m standing) – but allow your lips to soften into a grin.
  2. Say please and thank you. I’d like a medium soya latte, please. I’d like one Lucky Dip for Friday’s Euromillions, please. Even if you insist, for whatever American reason, on using the phrase, “Can I get?”, suffix it with the p-word. It feels good coming out of your mouth. Combined with a smile (see: 1), it actually takes the edge off the sheer ritualistic, mechanical joylessness of an everyday transaction.
  3. Let that car in. Driving is a blinkin’ nightmare, especially in the cities, and even more especially in London. I’ve almost reached the point where I not longer use the car at all, and am contemplating a car-free future. Hooray. But in the meantime: you’re in the car, and you want to get home, or to the shops. Of course you do. It’s only natural. But so does that person ahead of you, indicating that he/she wants to cross the lane that you’re in, to make a right turn. Why not flash them through? It’s one of those maddening high streets that starts at the traffic lights with two lanes then almost immediately bottlenecks into one because of a bus lane, or a parked lorry. Come on: one at a time. You can keep edging forward to keep them out, but they’ve got to come in at some point. Why not now? And if someone lets you in, give them a friendly wave in the rear-view mirror. If someone cuts you up, or crosses in front without indicating, or jumps a light at a box junction and blocks your path, for a change, why not pull back from mouthing the word “c***” or “twat” at them, which won’t alleviate this temporary snarl-up; it will just make the atmosphere worse. Roll your eyes at them, or do an exaggerated tut, as if to say, “Cuh! The traffic, eh? We’re all in this together, and the sooner we get home, or to the shops, the better!” (To avoid being called a “c***” or a “twat” yourself, don’t drive into box junctions on amber, and use your indicators.) As I was told when I was learning to drive in 1982, driving is easy, it’s all the other drivers that make it difficult. You are one of the other drivers.
  4. Be friendly to strangers. We were brought up to be terrified of strangers, but we’re all strangers until someone introduces us, and only a very tiny percentage of the people you pass in the street will be paedophiles or murderers or knife kids. Most will be just like you, except with a different coat on, or a different bone structure, or with a few more miles on the clock. So if someone asks you directions, don’t run away, or pretend that you’re in a hurry, try to help them. Make them feel less like a stranger. Sometimes, the stranger will be shy, and would rather stand around looking lost than risk the humiliation of asking someone directions. If you see this, intervene.
  5. Help old people off or on the bus or train. There’s an etiquette here, so let’s use our discretion. Not all old people consider themselves old, and might look frail and in need of a seat, or a leg-up, but if you barge in there, they get embarrassed. It’s a minefield, but better to be the first person on a bus or in a carriage to offer your seat to someone with grey hair than to sit there, not knowing, willing someone else to do it first. I have found that helping people off or on the bus or train gives you a lift (ironic!) for the rest of the day. And not just the elderly – people with pushchairs, or loads of bags, or the infirm. (Helping blind people without guide dogs is another tricky one, but again, try and judge the situation on its own merits. Blind people are not usually afraid to ask for help, in which case, give it, and don’t run away, thinking, ha ha, they can’t see me. I think we all know not to pat or fuss guide dogs, don’t we? They are irresistible and the most noble of all dogs, but we must resist the urge, as it puts them off their job.)
  6. Say “No, thanks” to Big Issue sellers. I rarely buy the Big Issue. But I smile and say, “No thanks” to Big Issue sellers, which, in terms of manners, is better than looking at the floor, or regarding them with contempt for slowing down your walk to the bus stop with their untidy appearance. Let’s be honest, they’d rather you bought a Big Issue. But if you prefer not to, look them in the eye, smile, and say, “No thanks.” Your relationship with the homeless is a delicate one, especially in a recession where you might be the one in debt, and worrying about that, while the person without a home has a different set of worries. (You could have to sell your home at a loss; he or she doesn’t have one to sell.) I was once approached on the beach at Bournemouth by a beggar who claimed he had lost the return half of his train ticket in the sand. He was obviously a liar. I still gave him some. There are no hard and fast rules. I am more likely to give money to a homeless person who has a dog, but that’s just me.
  7. Be polite to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes, I do object to people knocking on my door after dark, as I always think of the old lady I used to live next door to in Streatham, who would have been terrified of a knock after dark, even if it was from an accredited British Gas salesman hawking for her electricity business. I think it’s OK to pretend you’re not at home if the doorbell goes after dark. You’re doing it on behalf of the old people. But if you do answer the door and it’s a young lad with a case full of inferior cleaning products, or two smartly dressed men asking if you ever think about Jesus Christ (or at least getting to that key question after luring you into small talk about non-religious matters), just politely tell them that you are not interested or that you are busy and smile as you close the door. No matter how annoyed you are for being disturbed, at least you can go back to the telly – they have to keep knocking at all the other doors, which must be shit. I am even polite to canvassing politicians.
  8. Never swear at people on the other end of helplines. They are just doing their job. If they cannot help you, ask to speak to their supervisor. During my BT problems in the summer of 2007 (by far the worst stretch of customer dissatisfaction I have ever experienced – but then again, I am not a Santander or LA Fitness customer), I reached the point of no return and calmly informed the Scottish gentleman on the other end of the line that I was about to swear, but not at him, only through frustration, and that he should not take it personally. Then I swore. (“This is fucking ridiculous,” were my words.) I’m not proud, but I think this preface helped. Keep them in the loop. Stay calm, and if possible, stay PG certificate. There’s enough tension in the world of customer service without blaming it on someone with a job on the other end of a phone. It’s not his/her fault, it’s the system’s, or the management’s.
  9. Never, ever drop litter. This may seem to be outside the remit of manners, but it’s not. It’s about respecting the space we share. It’s an extension of smiling and being nice. I’ve seen grown adults eat the last crisp in a packet and literally let the packet drop from their hand to the pavement below, without even a look back. Putting a coffee cup neatly on the pavement is no better than chucking it, overarm. Put it in a bin. If the nearest bin is full, take it to the next one. That cellophane bit around the cigarette packet? Just because it’s see-through doesn’t mean it isn’t there when you drop it to the floor. I live near a parade of shops with a KFC-copycat chicken outlet on it; pretty much every morning, especially Saturdays and Sundays, I see boxes and bags with this place’s logo on them, dropped in the streets adjoining. Clearly, late nite chicken eaters are beyond the niceties of etiquette, and maybe even drunk. I tut to myself at them, even though they have long gone. Even drunk people should be ashamed of littering. At least vomit can be sluiced down.
  10. Leaving bags of stuff outside charity shops when they’re closed? Come on! The signs are clear enough. Just because you’re a superhero for giving an old jigsaw and some jumpers to charity it doesn’t mean you can just dump bin bags by night with a clear conscience. Yes, the old ladies who work in there are volunteers, but does that mean they can think of nothing nicer at the start of a working day than sorting through your rain-sodden rubbish before they can even get in the door? On the same ticket, if you’re recycling cans or bottles, don’t just tuck the empty plastic bag down the side of the bin because fuck it, if they want you to save the planet, they can chuck your sticky bag away as well.
  11. Talk to people at the checkout. You don’t have to say much. God, even something inane like, “Busy in here, today, isn’t it?” or “Not as busy as usual in here, today, is it?” might put us on the road to peace in the Middle East. People everywhere are, by and large, just doing their jobs. When a man or woman in a brightly-coloured kagoule offers you a free newspaper, the very existence of which makes your blood boil, remember that it’s not his or her fault – they’re just trying to earn an honest crust, like you – so smile and say, “No, thanks” (see: 6). It takes a second. You don’t even have to stop walking. Likewise, if someone tries to give you a flyer, or a card, don’t take it as an affront. And if their technique is to hold their arm outstretched in front of you, which is an oppressive, invasive action, why not say, “Excuse me” as you push past?
  12. Don’t swear when there are kids about. I do, occasionally, if I forget when – say – I’m in a family-friendly eaterie, and it’s not nice. Reel those swear words in.
  13. Think before you post that nasty comment online. Seriously. Read it back. Then imagine you are the person who’ll be on the receiving end of it. How would you like it? If you’re on Twitter, have you “@”-ed the person you’re about to insult into the Tweet? If so, remove the “@”. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to like/dislike anyone in the public eye. (If you’re replying to a Tweet, check first that you’re not automatically replying to everyone “@”-ed into the original Tweet. Do they all need to read what you think?) I reserve my hate for elected politicians, dictators and people who are cruel to animals, but even then, I would think very hard before insulting them in a public forum. There are some Tories in the Cabinet I hate with every fibre of my being, but not personally. Save your hate for the system that allows the super-rich to avoid tax and for murderous tyrants to stay in power and for the planet to be polluted industrially because of the power of unregulated industry with deep pockets. (Most of the crimes committed on the internet are basically down to manners. Do not say anything to anyone online that you wouldn’t say to their face. Simple as that. And if you must post anonymously – I don’t really have a choice – do not use that cloak of anonymity to be a more horrible bastard than you are in person.)
  14. Oh, and don’t talk, eat loudly or text in the cinema. Basic stuff. The cinemas – even my beloved arthouse chain the Curzon – sell crunchy food. It’s their fault, ultimately, but if you must buy crisps or popcorn or sweets in noisy bags, try and time your racket with a racket on the screen. Talking is only permitted at the lowest possible volume, a comment whispered into the ear of an adjacent companion and no conversations. And turn your phone off, you moron. (Sorry to have to call you a bad name, but really?) If your wife is likely to go into labour, or a relative is about to die, stay by his or her side; don’t leave him or her and go into the cinema and leave your phone on. (I’m assuming that’s why people leave their phones on in the cinema? I mean, it has to be something life or death, right?) Key thing to remember: the cinema is not your front room. Other people have paid to come and sit in it. Respect them with your actions.
  15. Get out of the way. I have always thought that the world is divided into two types of people: those who get out of the way, and those who don’t. As long as we pretty much divide down the middle, this can work. But what if there are less people who get out of the way than those who do not? Anarchy. Why don’t we mix it up a bit? Get out of the way most of the time, but not always. Roll with the situation. I walk across the super-crowded concourse of a major London railway station most days. It’s amazing there aren’t more punch-ups. That’s a lot of people all going in different directions at once, crossing over all the time. It takes your full attention to avoid collisions. Give it. (This covers that most idiotic and perplexing of acts, texting while walking. Any activity that involves you looking down and not ahead while walking is a bad idea. This also includes reading a book. If you must do either, stop and stand to one side. I speak as someone who does occasionally text and walk when I think there’s nobody around, but they could be coming round the next corner, so unless you live in  the middle of the country, it’s still a bad idea.)

These are not impossible dreams, are they? The one that have survived from the first draft weren’t in 2008, and they aren’t in 2012. It’s all about a state of mind. It’s remembering that you share the planet, which is a lot easier if you first remember that you share Waitrose and the high street and the train carriage and the motorway.

There’s nothing in there to argue with, really, is there? It’s common sense. All I’ve done is arrange it into a nice list, with numbers, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Addendum:

I’ve already had a couple of excellent sub-clauses suggested via Twitter.

2a. Hold doors open. If someone holds a door open for you, say, “Thank you.” If you have just come through a door and someone else is coming through afterwards, hold it open for them. How hard can any of this be? And if you’ve just come through a door and it was closed before you opened it, close it behind you. This is extra pertinent on trains.

5a. A bag is not a person. If you’re on a bus or train and it is filling up with people, don’t wait for someone to ask you to move the bag you’ve plonked on the seat next to you. Take it off before that happens. There’s nothing worse – as you well know! – than having to ask to make this to happen if you’re standing up and wishing to sit down. And here’s a revelation: putting a newspaper up in front of your face does not make the tiresome other passengers go away. We’re still here.

5b. Don’t do anything on public transport that you normally do at home in the bathroom. I once saw a man actually clipping his toenails on a train once. His toenails (which as we all know are smellier than fingernails). He didn’t have a care in the world. I know it’s a cultural thing and probably a compliment in some countries, but let’s lay off the spitting, too. And even though some men pick their noses (and sometimes dispose of the contents orally – yuck!) without realising they are doing it, let’s start realising we are doing it!

5c. Let the people off first. It’s basic. It makes the world go round. If you wish to board a train, wait until people have fully disembarked before you step foot inside that carriage. And that means: nobody gets on until every single person who wishes to has got off. No crossover. If you were getting off, you’d expect nothing more. Here’s the newsflash: you will be getting off at some point.

11a. Put your phone down when you’re being served. Even if it is beyond your social powers to chat to the person at the checkout or the counter, don’t continue with a conversation you’re already having on your mobile. The same goes for texting. Have a bit of respect, and offer the person you’re expecting to serve you the full span of your attention. If your phone rings, why not take the call and say, “Sorry, I’m in a shop, I’ll call you back”? (Oh, and say “sorry” before you take it.) Equally, if you’re having a coffee with someone, whether it’s a friend or something more formal like a meeting, don’t take a call without first saying, “Sorry, this is really important, I’d better take this.” And then get up and move elsewhere. I realise that if you’re reading this and you’re of an age to have grown up with mobile phones, all of this simple etiquette is going to require some un-learning. But stick with it. We need to dial back from the unpleasant state we’ve got into with our always-on mobile devices. (I take great pleasure in turning mine off, but I realise I’m a maverick in this.) Real people come first, people on the phone come second.

(I’m all for further sub-clauses, by the way.)

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37 thoughts on “The Manners Manifesto 2012

  1. All good sensible stuff that’s not hard and would make a pleasant difference.

    The driving one could be expanded to just being aware of people around you in general – no stopping suddenly in the street, walking four abreast, clogging up escalators, taking an extra train seat for your luggage or feet. or leaving your shopping trolley diagonally across a whole aisle.

    And preferably no death-stares if somebody asks to get by / sit down.

  2. That was wonderful Andrew. And it IS all common sense. Thank you for posting this and also the one about Richard Bacon’s programme on the Anti-social Network. It was scary but enlightening. x

  3. Mr. Collins, I’m grateful for your post and a fan of much of your work. I agree that much of your manifesto is common sense to anyone with a smidge of mental health. I do, however, have one small and perhaps overly cautious concern with number 13. I get your point that spewing flagrant hatred or “trolling” as you’ve put it in a previous post, is intolerable…shameful really…likely from attention seeking, self absorbed nutters who shouldn’t be given a pixel let alone a entire comment box to stage their attack. But heading toward the other end of the spectrum at what point does “nasty” taper to debate, disagreement, accountability, iron sharpening iron? Even well intended opposing views can sting on first read, and can seem harsh without knowing the person saying it or hearing the manner in which they are communicating. The internet is a galaxy of misinterpretation. Is it possible for healthy debate in a medium devoid of intonation?

    • I’m all for debate. But personal abuse does not help debate. When, in real life, in the heat of the moment, you say something rude to the person you are arguing with, the argument is over, effectively. Same online.

      That said, you can say sorry immediately in real life. There can be a delay online, so in a way, you’re right, the lack of intonation is a problem. Which is why I said: read it back before you hit “send.”

  4. I remember reading this first time round & being pleased that I automatically do all these (bar 3, as I don’t drive). Perhaps it’s because I grew up living above my parents’ shop & knew what it was like when customers were rude to us it’s always been important to be polite. People either recognised us locally in the street or thought my mum was a shop assistant whenever we were out shopping & asked us questions, so I assumed that was usual & that one should be approachable & nice to everyone.

    (I still am stopped almost daily by tourists asking directions near where I work, while others aren’t even approached, so maybe Iit’s a family thing & we all look friendly.)

    I also say “good morning” to the postal workers, road sweeper, ticket collector etc on my way to work. After sometimes initial puzzlement, they soon smile back & reciprocate when they next see you, improving your commute as you’ve had some pleasant interchange to start the day.

    It can be interesting how different the service is if you just sa y a few friendly words at the checkout or call cente: often they put themselves out more for you (which is not a reason for doing it but a nice bonus when it does happen). And a smile back when you’re tired too, makes that wiait in the queue a little easier.

    Thanks for reposting this.

    Jeanette

    • I must admit, I’m so used to blank looks or no recognition at all from bus drivers, when I got on recently and the driver not only looked, and smiled at me, he said good morning. I think I must have looked shocked – almost offended! I say good morning back, but only once I’d got over it.

  5. I agree completely with the concept, and a . A few of the specifics feel a bit odd for non-city dwellers; for example I think the standard of politeness on the road (tho’ not necessarily the driving) is far higher here in rural Derbyshire than in London (not that I have actually driven in London for about 17 years). So it would be the rare sociopath who would not, other things being equal, let a fellow driver in / give them a friendly wave. Same goes for talking to supermarket checkout people – but it is easier when you probably actually know them / their mother / their son. Also I tend to say “Yes please” to Big Issue sellers, because I don’t see them every day, not even every week, and it is a genuinely interesting magazine which doesn’t come with the routine sexist baggage of most (RT excepted of course). The friendliness to strangers thing may not be so well exemplified here: on the whole people will try and help anyone and will probably work out that they have a connection, however tenuous, with the “stranger”. However I am not sure how welcome people who are obviously different in appearance / behaviour / customs are made to feel.

    Actually, a lot of these points resolve to “Would you do that if your mum was watching / listening / likely to hear about it…?” None the worse for that, a good precept!

    • True.

      And I accept that London is one of the rudest cities in the world, so all of my suggestions take that onboard.

  6. Fantastic read and nice to know there are other thoughtful people about! 🙂 I usually will let people in/out whilst driving even if I feel they’re ‘pushing in’. I was brought up to treat others as I’d like to be treated. It does annoy me massively to not be thanked for this though, as often happens.

    The only thing I struggle with day to day is people asking for change, normally with some kind of fabricated story attached. I get asked on a daily basis on the street where I work, and whilst I was tolerant at first, even sometimes giving some change, the tolerance has worn very thin at the sheer amount of times I get asked. Even got accosted at a cash point once, where I’m already on high alert & feeling vulnerable. I have no time for these people I’m afraid.

    • Oddly enough, there’s an etiquette to begging, too. Don’t get in people’s faces would be a good start. Don’t work train carriages (although we mustn’t forget, sometimes peer pressure and guilt work wonders in a public place, so you can see why someone might use this technique), don’t hang around cashpoints for the very reason you’ve given, Matt. But assuming those begging are homeless and without money, it’s a different ballgame to you or I being inconvenienced in the street. It’s a minefield, I agree.

  7. Alan added a comment from the UAE, but it didn’t get through, so he emailed me and I’m publishing it here:

    “I agree with every one of the rules, but if you think London is ‘one of the rudest cities in the world’ then you really need to see a few others. I’m not in London very often apart from going through Heathrow, but last year when I was on the Tube to the Leicester Square Theatre I felt like I was surrounded by friends and family compared to the public transport in Singapore. So driving in London might be a bit challenging, but try Cairo, or anywhere East of Germany or South of Calais.

    Also, rules 1,3 4, 5 & 11 will get you arrested, beaten up, mugged, ripped off or even kidnapped depending on which delightful city you are in. If I obeyed rule 3 here in Abu Dhabi I’d be three hours late for work every day.

    Like I said, I wholeheartedly agree with what you say, but please don’t bash London too hard.”

  8. I’m sure you’re right, Alan. I’ve never been to Singapore, or Cairo. My “furthest east” is the Czech Republic, and “furthest south” – I think – Dallas.

  9. I’m glad there are others that share my feelings on this. It takes minimal effort to smile, say thanks, please or even nod at someone…I cut through the massive shopping centre here on my way home from town most days and whenever I hold the door open for the person behind me it’s rare to event get even a grunt of thanks or eye contact let alone a simple thank you.

    I’m a student as well, so my working life has so far largely been in the glamorous world of customer service. I’ve never quite decided what was worse, working in a Spar or working in a restaurant. Working in a convenience store means you generally get people who are tired and grumpy after work and just want to sit on the sofa until they’ve realised they have no milk, so at least there’s a reason, if a poor one, for the shoddy treatment my colleagues and I would receive from the Great British Public. In a restaurant it’s worse because the clientèle ‘should’ be in a good mood; they are out for dinner after all.

    People literally treat you like a slave, skivvy and moron just because you are in the unfortunate position of having to serve them. In my time as a waiter and host I was sworn at, called an idiot, had customers click there fingers at me like a dog, shout at me when I was busy dealing with other customers and much more that I won’t bore you with.

    It’s a cliché but manners really do cost nothing and I can only speak for myself but it always ,makes my day when they are reciprocated.

  10. I cover all those bases bar one already, but I’m afraid when it comes to Jehovahs Witnesses I get a sense of humour failure, the best I can do on that account is ignore their exeitence. Other than that, sound advice. :))

  11. Spot on Andrew. I would say that what you are getting at is the old principle of ‘treat people as you would want to be treated yourself’.
    Nicer people = nicer world….

  12. Probably repeating myself here.

    “Get out of the way” is such a big one. I’m sure people see it as a sign of weakness. As if thinking it matters isn’t.

    5c applies to shops and other public buildings too – let people come out before you enter.

    If someone holds a door open for you, take it from them; don’t parade through without touching it, as if they’re your own personal doorman. Only being very old, or in a wheelchair, etc., lets you off this. Just saying thank you doesn’t cut it. (I once saw a slight old woman actually walking on the spot into the glass door of a shop, completely unable to push it open. A heartbreaking sight. I had to make sure she’d seen what I was about to do before I pulled it open from the inside to let her in.)

    Take your earphones out *as you enter* a shop you ignorant, disrespectful piece of…

    If you’re serving me in a shop and the Tory voter using the self-service till nearby has screwed up, don’t rush over to help him – or offer him advice – until you’ve finished serving me and everyone else in the queue behind me. Self-service. The clue’s in the name.

    If you’re serving me in a shop and an external call comes through on the shop’s phone,,, Where are you going…? Hello…?

    Don’t send your little girl into the shop to do your shoplifting for you.

    If you’re a tramp, don’t do what you do in the alley behind my house, and then throw used bits of bog roll into my garden.

    It’s the little things.

    • You’d better check that the person at the self-service till is a Tory voter next time, Dave, just in case you’re wrong to leap to that conclusion. (I, for instance, sometimes use the self-service tills, and if I’m buying alcohol will always require assistance.) It’s the system that’s at fault, not the staff. Supermarkets have only introduced self-service tills because they require less staff to run – say, one person for six tills – and by using them, we (and I mean we) are playing into the hands of the corporations who care not about customers or staff but about shareholders.

  13. Well said. I like to think me and my family pretty much do this regularly. I am one of those funny old farts who not only smiles but looks you in the eye. And never let a door swing. My 4 year old son had a nasty bang on the head from some ignorant woman who could not be bothered about who was behind her. I’m still mad and it was 21 years ago. Smile!

  14. I forgot earlier – re 5:

    I used to work with a lovely blind chap called Ron, who had a wicked sense of humour. He was fiercely independent & has a phenomenal memory, taking great pride in rarely needing to use his white stick because he’d learned his regular routes.

    If folk assisted him onto the Tube without asking, when feeling mischievous, he’d wait until the doors closed & then ask where his guide dog was…

    • Because I sometimes work at Broadcasting House in London, I often find myself taking the same Tube home as Peter White, the veteran, blind BBC radio presenter. He has a routine, and gets on the same carriage at the same spot every day (and reads off an amazing looking Braille reader for the next few stops). He clearly needs no assistance. However, once, the train pulled in about a foot behind where it would normally stop and I saw Peter about to miss the door when it opened, so I gently informed him that the door was about a foot to the left. He said, “Thanks,” and got on. That was it. My usual tactic with blind people is to be aware of them, but treat them like anybody else and don’t interfere. You can usually judge when your assistance is wanted or needed.

  15. Great post. Couple of additions from me:

    5a – I’ve begun to make a point of asking people to move their bags, even (especially) when there are plenty of other seats.

    11 – I hate free magazines (and the Metro). However, the guy handing it out is only trying to earn an honest wage doing a shit job that most of us wouldn’t want to do. This being the case, I make a point of taking one whenever offered, then dropping it into the first bin I find once I’m out of sight. This has two benefits. 1) chappy gets to go home earlier, and 2) fewer of these shitty oversized advertising pamphlets in general circulation. Gives me a disproportionate sense of wellbeing when I do it. Some mornings I even do it twice, like a proper little tart.

  16. Although I already abide by your simple rules as a manner of just being human, I went about my business today with extra concern having read the manifesto yesterday; it’s good to be reminded. Already I have offered my bus seat to a lady who could have been anywhere between 50 and 70, but didn’t let that stop any awkwardness (she didn’t take me up on the offer) and also had a rather nice chat to a friendly barista. However, as a result, he was distracted and made a rather lacklustre flat white. First world problems. But I feel GREAT. /punches air with a rolled up copy of the manifesto [freeze frame].

  17. I’m glad you’ve resurrected this idea, Andrew. And may I add “take your sunglasses off when speaking to a shop assistant in the course of their duties. Who are you – Carlos the Jackal?”

    Eye contact is a good thing.

  18. An addendum to 9:
    With regards to public restrooms and general cleanliness – be aware that you’re not the only person using the restroom and that someone else has to clean up after you.
    Just simple things like
    -Throw paper towels in the trash
    -Don’t splash water everywhere
    -Don’t piss on the seats
    -Flush the toilet

  19. A sensible manifesto for a happier world.

    Also very please to hear you are contemplating going car-free. Everyone’s doing it – Peak Car has finally arrived! I manage to live car-free in tiny public-transport-challenged Lincoln, so I’m sure you can comfortably do it in That London.

    Jonny

  20. The first (unhelpful) additions that come to mind are two quite specific ones regarding Google and its disgusting automatically updating, uninstall-immune GoogleUpdate.exe, and Arsenal’s noble legal team for their 4 year hounding of a Spanish boutique owner … Generalising it I suppose I’d suggest, ‘Do not think the rules & spirit of the Manifesto do not apply when you’re part of a gang.’

  21. Thank you, Andrew.

    Regarding the litter rule: cigarette butts are litter too. Do not chuck them on the ground. We have a lovely garden at work until you look near your feet…

    Regarding smokers: even if it doesn’t say clearly outside your building not to smoke near the entrance, don’t smoke near the entrance. Also, please wait until you are in position before you light up.

    Regarding driving/cycling: please take a micro-second to acknowledge the driver/cyclist who has waited for you as you make your way down that narrow street (a wave is usually best, we don’t always see a nod).

    Regarding driving: please indicate even if the only other road users around are cyclists and pedestrians. We actually need know what manoeuvres you are going to make as much as a driver does.

    And yes, to the addendum that you don’t talk on your mobile phone while you are being served in a shop, it’s so rude.

    • Absolutely. It’s possible that some smokers think cigarette butts magically disappear when not held between fingers. (Some smokers! Not all!) Mind you, smokers are an endangered species, hounded out of all the places where they used to be permitted to smoke, so you can’t blame them for feeling disinclined to suck up to non-smokers!

  22. Mr Collins,

    When do you stand as Prime Minister and where can I vote for you?

    As someone that walks faster than most can I add “When changing direction when you are walking about…just have a little quick turn of the head to check no-one is coming up behind you, like you would check the blindspot of a car. If you don’t do that and end up bumping into someone don’t act like it was their fault”.

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