Are good manners going extinct?
MANNERS maketh man. Yet, as St Valentine's Day dawns, here we have suggestions that the gentleman is an extinct species. Or so a screaming newspaper poster says.
It seems the Zonnebloem wine estate has conducted a Classic Gentleman Survey which suggests that 72% of South African women believe their menfolk are uncouth louts who use bad language in their everyday talk and do not pull out the chair for a lady dining companion. Nor do they hold open a car door for her. Nor are they au fait with matching cutlery and dishes. Nor do they know how to open a bottle of wine.
Zonnebloem marketing manager Radley Connor says: "Chivalry may be fast disappearing."
This surely is rather harsh, if not exaggerated. I myself move in circles where chivalry – gentlemanly behaviour – is highly valued and scrupulously observed.
I would never dream of allowing a girl to open the car door and get in by herself. I always hold it open for her. Okay, I might playfully kick her in the butt to help her on her way, but it's still chivalry.
I wouldn't dream of allowing her to seat herself in the restaurant. I always hold out the chair for her with a classic sweeping bow. It's the best way there is to slip in a whoopee cushion and get the evening off to a good start.
For tonight I've hired a quartet of gypsy fiddlers. You've got to build the right atmosphere before you start serenading her with The Good Ship Venus and performing the gumboot dance.
Come on, fellers, tonight's the night to prove those Zonnebloem people wrong. Take her out for din-dins and lay it on thick with the chivalry. Be gentlemen. (Just make sure that when you kiss her you haven't got a mouthful of spaghetti).
Grand Old Man
HERE'S some sound advice from our Grand Old Man of cricket. John Watkins played for South Africa and Natal in the 1940s and 1950s. A gifted right-hand batsman, he was also a more than useful seam bowler. I remember watching him at Kingsmead in the 50s.
Now aged 93, John is the oldest Test cricketer in the world. He sends in some very sound suggestions on how the current game needs to be adjusted.
The decision as to whether to bat or bowl should be decided by the toss of a coin for the first match only. After that the decision should alternate between the competing sides.
Tests should be played on "drop in" pitches prepared in a neutral country. This would eliminate the huge unfair advantage of playing "at home" on pitches prepared by a local groundsman.
When a five-day Test is decided in, say, three days, a 50-over game should be played by the same members of the Test teams. Many spectators have paid for five days of cricket – they should get it.
Most succinct, most sensible. Does anyone disagree?
IN RECENT days we've heard from a gal who talked to a flying fish at Vetch's beach and guided him out to the open sea. She is backed up by another gal from the Oceanographic Research Institute who says she often talks to fish.
Now we have Maureen Elysee who says she used to dance with a goldfish.
"Fish can be very sociable," she says. "I had a very beautiful goldfish who loved to dance with me. His best was to Elvis music.
"I would go up to the bowl and he'd come rushing up to the front and looking straight at me start to dance, following me and the music. My guests loved it.
"In quiet moments he also liked me to stroke him and I felt he understood me when I talked to him when he eventually became ill."
Wowie! The goldfish disco!
Oddly enough, only the other evening I was dancing with a barbel. The gals at the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties become more exotic and enchanting by the day.
"HEY Paddy, how'd the job interview go?"
"Well it was going foine. Den dey asked to see my testimonials. And dat's when I made my big mistake."
After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I want to see the manager."