Oh I’m sorry. Am I going too slow?
‘Manarchy in the UK’ is a play on words. A combo of ‘Manners’ and the title of the Sex Pistol’s song – ‘Anarchy in the UK’…
Apparently, the 1970’s punks were pretty much rude and ‘in your face’, but this was a part of their identity. You knew where you stood with them. However, these day, I suppose some of these attitudes have become much more common in a lot of people. They may even have become the norm.
This article discusses what I perceive to be the general decline in manners in the UK and an increase in rudeness in society. I also discuss chavs.
One long moan
The post may come across as being one long rant. So be it. Sometimes it’s good to have a long moan and get some of that anger out of you. It can be pretty cathartic.
The Canary in the Mine
The state of manners is a useful barometer of a society. It’s like the canary in the mine. If the average stranger you come across – be it on the street, on public transport, in a shop or park is respectful of your space, is non-intrusive, polite or friendly in conversation and does not behave in an intimidating or rude way, and you are the same back, then you can get the feeling that you are living in a well-mannered society. But if not, you can start to suspect that society is moving in a downward direction.
Manners in decline
Most people in the UK are polite and for the most part civil. The stereotype of the English gentleman does carry some element of truth behind it. However, there are some occasions, where manners are not so good and people can be rude, bordering on offensive in modern Britain.
If you were walking down the street and someone suddenly walked right up behind you a few inches, and then started making a ‘hooting’ noise with their mouth, swearing and shouting at you to move over, then you would turn round and give them an earful. Either that or you may clock them.
That’s why most people don’t do something so rude. Because it will surely lead to a direct altercation or at worst a complaint to the police.
Walking or driving behind people is the same
So what’s the difference when someone does it in a car? Some people will honk at drivers to move over even when it is dangerous to do so. I’ve seen people right up behind other cars at traffic lights honking to move over. How can they, the car are stationary? But these same people would never walk up to a slow-moving person in the street and tell them to move over.
Basically these kinds of drivers are asses. Be consistent. If you are going to be an asshole to other drivers on the road, then you should also be an asshole whilst walking down the street to other pedestrians too.
But of course they don’t do that because it is far too direct and there is a risk that someone may just call you out. It just irks me these people use their cars as some kind of shield.
Chav BMW drivers
It’s quite often BMW drivers who seem to be the most impatient and inconsiderate. I used to think I would like to own a BMW years ago, but when I see the kind of people driving them, I have decided I will never drive one.
One time, I gave way to an ambulance, but a BMW driver took this as an opportunity to overtake me rather than give way too. I mean, why let a potentially seriously sick person who needs to get to hospital stop you from driving in a hurry.
Most kids, I’ve come across are pretty polite and well-behaved. But there are times and places you must avoid. Avoid streets around schools when school breaks out, especially inner city areas. These kids are not really kids. They are young adults designated as kids.
In some areas, the schools have to have policemen stand outside the schools at home time. I can only assume that something must have happened in the past to warrant this need.
By this same token, absolutely avoid taking buses at this time particularly if they service schools. Kids are loud and wild and make you wonder why school closes so early in this country.
Little acts of rudeness, all add up
On the bus going home from work, a small girl of around 7 or 8 years old was sitting in the chair behind me. After a few minutes of me sitting down, I suddenly became aware of a pair of size 4’s on the top of the seat rest next to my head.
I was quite surprised at this obvious act of rudeness and turned around to gesture to put her feet down. The thing that surprised me was that her mother was sitting right next to her glued to her smart phone. She didn’t care.
I decided not to say anything as I weighed up the possibility that the mother would just tell me to F-off. It just felt like it was a battle not worth bothering with. Possibly, a lot of people would do the same these days.
We have this expression in the UK – ‘Chavs’. It is a derogative term used to describe an ‘underclass’ or people from delinquent or anti-social families. They are stereotypically said to wear Burbery caps and live on rough council estates. They may be from broken families and engage in anti-social or sometimes even criminal behaviour.
The Origin of the word ‘Chav’
I became acquainted with a scriptwriter who wrote a small book on police terminology – the expressions they use as a form of code to refer to what they encounter in the line of their work.
The term ‘Chav‘ is actually a police acronym for ‘Council Housing and Violent’ or ‘Council Housing and Vermin’. I don’t think many people know the origin of this word.
Just to put this in perspective, most people in council housing are not violent or vermin. I grew up in a council house. My father too. One of my aunts raised three kids in a council house. They all went on to be boring middle class citizens of the country with their own families. I also grew up in a broken family, but I’m not a Chav. Whilst I’m not completely normal, I don’t engage in much anti-social behaviour. At least not recently.
London is generally free of Chavs
I think one of the best things about London is the lack of Chav activity. There just doesn’t seem to be many of them in certain areas. I am aware that this is not true for the outer-skirts of London, particularly in the South and South East, but I have lived in several different areas (thanks to the uncertainty of fixed tenancy agreement) and I have usually been able to walk to my local off-licence late at night without having to run the gauntlet of feral kids in baseball caps, hanging around looking and being intimidating.
But there is still some Chavvy behaviour
There was one occasion in Lewisham when I walked past a group of teenagers playing with a football in the middle of the street. One of them kicked the ball very hard deliberately at me but it missed and bounced off the wall and came to my feet. When he came to retrieve it, I kicked it away which made him look stupid. So he pushed me, but I held my ground.
In hindsight, I should have just carried on like most people would, but it annoys when people in groups think they can act like this. They would never do this if they were alone or if there was only two of them. It is just cowardly and basically, they are asses.
These kinds of encounters are breaking the law
In the UK, any kind of physical contact like that immediately constitutes an assault. However, as he was surrounded by his friends, I decided it more prudent to walk away quick as possible.
I didn’t feel in any particular danger in that situation. As a child, I grew up in a council area too and occasionally got into fights when I was younger, so I could kind of read the ‘danger level’. Although, I was quite a soft kid and lost almost every fight I ever got into. But I don’t like to be offended and so would rarely back down and I think a lot of British people are the same.
Chav Hit and Run
On another occasion, a colleague told me a story of how she went to B&Q – the home improvement store. As she walked in the car park, a woman driving a car clipped her with her side window. There was an obvious loud banging noise as she struck her. My colleague was stunned and in a mild state of shock after being hit by a car.
Not stopping for a ‘hit and run’ is a criminal offence in the UK yet the driver carried on driving and then even parked up her vehicle in the B&Q car park. She didn’t give a damn. She was doing her shopping at B&Q too.
No stopping, not caring
At this point a crowd had gathered around my friend to check how she was. They all had witnessed the incident and watched the driver as she checked her wing mirror to see if it was ok and then walked past the crowd.
As she passed my friend (the person she had hit), she made a small comment along the lines of – ‘you’re ok, right’ and then carried on into the shop. My friend described her as a chav and I can believe her.
In this situation, the husband of my friend ended up reporting this to the store who alerted the police and detained her. Otherwise, she would have likely done her shopping and gone home oblivious to the potential harm she may have caused someone. It was only then that she apologised.
I suppose the threat of imprisonment will have that effect on people. But still, why is a threat necessary? This is one of the most bizarre stories of a lack of manners I have heard before.
I suppose that is how it is these days in the UK.
End of Part 1
This is the end of Part 1 of Manarchy in the UK: The Decline in Manners.
Click here for Part 2.
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