Modern manners


Now, my question today is, is it ever ok to call ‘Please, please, for the love of God stop singing’ along a row of changing cubicles to the songbird three doors down? He was obviously a happy chap after his swim, and why wouldn’t he be? I often feel like having a bit of a trill after a dip, but therein lies the difference: I don’t. I hum under my breath. I might be swept away by the swelling strains of an orchestra, or soaring high over the descants of the organ in St Paul’s, but crucially, the thunder is inaudible to everyone who doesn’t live in my head. Anyway, naturally I didn’t say anything at the pool, or at least, not at a volume any higher than the one I’d set for my heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of Danny Boy that was currently unspooling UNKNOWN TO EVERYONE AROUND ME.

It must also be pointed out that the quality of my performance suffers with every extra notch of volume, as anyone who has stood near me in church will attest, so it’s not just selflessness, it’s mortification that keeps me silent. Not so nobly forbearing after all, then.

Another conundrum tangled my wires last weekend. It was as I was helping my father carry some large trunks (packing, not swimming) down two narrow flights of stairs furnished with an awkward bend at each end. The trunks weren’t crushingly heavy, on the flat at least, but the question of whether to obey my 78-year-old father’s instruction to ‘Let go; I’ve got it’ when he’s three stairs below you and the trunk is made of steel and threatening to toboggan unchecked down to street level threw up some urgent-feeling quibbles.


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