DUNCAN BARKES Good manners are free, bad can prove costly

‘Good manners cost nothing’ was a saying that regularly tripped off the tongue of my late grandmother. Alas, ‘nothing’ appears to still be too pricey for some people.

On a visit to picturesque and genteel Bosham recently, the beauty of the area was marred by some less-than-pretty manners.

I often hold the door open for people. I believe it is only right and proper to do so.

Fancying a look at the classic model boats in the Bosham Craft Centre, I went for the door to be met with nine other people coming in the other direction.

Naturally, I stood aside and held the door open as they filed through.

Only two out of the nine acknowledged this, while the rest just breezed on by without so much as a smile. I do not hold doors open anticipating thanks, but how hard is it to smile and say thank you? And isn’t it the right thing to do?

A recent bank holiday quest for a late lunch also provided a ‘how rude!’ moment, this time by someone being paid to deal with customers.

Enquiring if a table for three might be available at a pub on the outskirts of Chichester, I received a response that left me unlikely to visit the establishment again.

The good-looking young man to whom I addressed my question was, at best, brusque in his response. He could have apologised and said no; regrettably they were chock-full and couldn’t squeeze us in.

Instead he raised his eyebrows to the heavens in the manner that suggested I was an absolute berk for daring to ask, and told me, rudely, no.

He made us feel about as welcome as a dose of food poisoning. As I say, we won’t be returning.

In Petworth last year I entered an antiques shop with serious intent to make a purchase. Dressed in a somewhat shabby duffle coat and a pair of old boots (think Paddington crossed with Compo from Last of the Summer Wine), I was given a very sniffy reception, so sniffy, in fact, that I changed my mind about handing over my cash.

My grandmother was right: kindness and good manners do cost nothing.

And if you are there to serve, just remember that the Paddington/Compo character in your shop could be about to buy that pretty but overpriced jug for his wife’s birthday.