You may have read the excoriating email that retired naval officer, Nick Crews, sent to his three children, complaining of his “bitter disappointment” with their “copulation driven” self-indulgence?

Reading this made me want to have a rant of my own on the issue of modern manners – or rather, lack of them.  One of the things that really pees me off is the fact that my godchildren rarely send thank you letters (or even emails), despite the enormous trouble I go to in finding gifts that are unusual, educational or collectable. When I do receive a thank you letter, it usually drops through the letterbox a couple of months after the present was given. I suppose I should blame the parents for this, but the fact that I used to enjoy writing thank you letters as a child, as well as having an innate sense of conscientiousness and duty, makes it all the more incomprehensible.

Another thing that gets to me is young people’s overfamiliarity – as well as their poor grasp of English. I can’t claim to be an expert on the latter subject, as due to some quirk of the state education system during its ‘progressive’ years, I was never formally taught grammar at school, except in French, German and Latin lessons. Perhaps I should have learned English as a foreign language, as the terms and rules of syntax remain as foggy to me as a those from the game of cricket.

However, the situation today appears to be far worse.  A couple of years ago, the standard of correspondence arriving in my inbox became so appalling that I decided to keep some examples, which I have just unearthed from my now defunct computer.  Here are some humdingers:

From a girl I’ve never met, who was seeking an internship:

Hey it’s A, B’s daughter, My mum is a work friend of your mum and i believe one way or another youve heard about me wanting to do Work experience with you, and ive heard that you have something in mind for me? And that you wanted to see my artwork too.

okies, so im available off from school at easter and in july at some point- not too sure on the dates right now, but i will find out. Here is my Deviantart with all my Artwork on [well not all, but.. some] (link to website) I am very insterested in what you do, and basically im thinking of putting a career around my artwork, Ive thought about Fashion houses, or just taking commishions, and selling premade pieces, but thats all ive really got so far. At the moment i take commishions for xxxx portraits, basically a 95×95 pixelled box that is used on teh game xxxx, and ive gotten loads and laods of people asking for them – but i want to move further. People seem to think thats all i do and im struggling trying to get people to commishion me for more.

I didn’t respond, but some weeks later received the following message:

Hey again! It’s A

I were wondering about when and where i should meet up with you in Easter for my work experience-
Thankyou!
also can i ask what i’d be expected to do? Im really curious =]

And this is from an unknown Virgin Active gym co-ordinator regarding my negative feedback on a class (by the way, I had never been to and have no intention of attending a body combat class):

hya mate thanks for the feedback about last monday cover- she has  taught quite a lot and covered quite a lot so i was surprised by your feedback but thanks!

also- i may be putting on another combat class during the week and i know you go to them- im just wondering if you came to Dominika’s class last week as  i just want to get an idea of what she is like- the other instructors have said she is goo but wondered what you thought.

Cheers hun

 


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  1. Mahlerman on Saturday 24, 2012

    Hey again! It’s Mahlerman!
    Yes Susan, this whole subject is deeply dispiriting – and neither I nor my brood (4) are entirely free of criticism. I found myself broadly falling into line behind Nick Crews but, as a naval officer, perhaps he was not around to develop the close bonds with his children that I have been able to do. The familiarity you speak of seems to be a pestilence in modern life, and not always emanating from the mouths of youth. It is an almost daily torture to lift the telephone in my business and be assailed by some blight with ‘Hi X (shortened christian name), how are we (we?) today?’. I guess I am on a list somewhere, and their line-manager has suggested to them (wrongly) that if they ‘get chummy’, they are more likely to ‘convert’. The fact that they can barely speak, rather supports your written examples of the communication skills of ‘the young’. Do we blame the State, or the parents? Both probably.
    Well babe – gotta go – missin’ you already………

  2. Susan on Saturday 24, 2012

    Hey Mahlerman! Yes, the first name business is another bugbear. After the initial inquisition, requiring a myriad of personal details, call centre operators ask “do you mind if I call you Susan.” They are always confused when I say “yes, I do mind actually.” I’ve noticed that the occasions when my title is respectfully used is usually when a cold caller rings up and asks in a northern accent, “is Miss Mounkey there please.” Again, my answer is “no.”

    And you’re right about the ‘barely being able to speak’ too, though sometimes it’s a language thing, especially with Scottish or Indian accents (which they invariably are) – I find myself constantly saying “pardon” and “sorry, can you repeat that” – often many times over… until I have managed to work out a really weird sounding word.

    Anyway, I suppose all this is secondary to making contact in the first place. I held on the line for 20 minutes yesterday trying to get through to Vodafone (in what sounded like India). When the operator answered she was laughing. I’m not sure what at. As for EDF Energy, the only communication possible is with an automated voice message. I have tried calling many times, but there is never an answer and my emails remain unanswered too. And don’t get me on to the subject of BT or banks…

  3. Recusant on Saturday 24, 2012

    Hiya Suze

    And I thought it was only grumpy old curmudgeons like me that thought this way. If elegant and charming ladies like you do as well, it makes me feel much better about the whole business.

    Ta ra babes! :) !

  4. George on Saturday 24, 2012

    Years ago, I was working in a spare room where also was a tiny, beautiful woman of I suppose Central American birth doing I know not what. She looked up from her computer presently, and said (in standard US English), “I can’t stand AOL. Every time I call their Spanish-language support line, I get a bunch of guys with Argentine accents.”

  5. Worm on Saturday 24, 2012

    ROFL! Speling is 4 loosers XX

  6. Mr Slang on Saturday 24, 2012

    My Dear Mrs Mouncey,

    Autre temps, autre moeurs.

    Believe me at all times with sincerity and respect, dear Madam, your faithful and obliged servant,

    Etymon Slang

  7. Susan on Saturday 24, 2012

    Hi guys! Dearest Etymon. Marcel Wave (aka Kenny Everett) described English as “so darned strange” but I wonder if corresponding in French got any easier in the age of texting?!! LOL. Recusant, Omg! you sound like Cilla – and a compliment goes a long way, cheers mate. AOL is so lame, George – does it still exist? **// Worm. SeeYa!

  8. Brit on Saturday 24, 2012

    Be all this as it may, I think the time has come for all to accept that ‘Hi’ is just the email equivalent of ‘Dear’ and there’s no shame in using it.