Alison Goulding: No spitting please...

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BEAMISH is so good it makes my face hurt. It has a sweet shop, a stableyard and an old-fashioned printing press – all within 50 yards of each other.

And by the way, they are ONLY my three favourite things.

The tea rooms are very good too, with carved wood booths and scones that are very home-made, warm to the touch and very not-tight on the raisin quota.

But this is not an advert for Beamish, I am merely setting the scene for a moment of distress that will then flow into a wider social commentary. Sort of.

While my friend and I were exiting the tea rooms we stood to one side to allow a family to enter with two large pushchairs.

I don’t think they were the brightest anyway, because it took them five minutes just to walk in the room, but then they completely blanked us.

It was so tangibly rude that we started laughing as soon as we got out of earshot (because we have manners, and did not wish to offend the people who had just offended us).

But one swallow does not make a summer, and it’s not fair to condemn the whole human race because of one family who like living museums, but don’t like saying “thank you”.

No, that would be unfair. I’ll give at least one more example before I do that.

The next day at work, we went down to the canteen for lunch.

My eyes were drawn to a horrible scene. A man had pulled up in his car to buy a buttie from the shop.

He was smiling and laughing with his friend and then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world – he wound down the window and spat out of it. A big lump of his foul gob let free in the world without so much as a “how’s your father?”

I nearly vommed up my own lunch.

In direct contrast, a recent trip to France yielded row upon row of perfect manners.

While sitting outside a cafe having a coffee with my friend, the man next to us asked if it was OK for him to smoke.

The staff at the hotel were charming and in one restaurant the family next to us offered a smile and a Bon Appetite as our food arrived.

Ironically, before I went, several people made a point of telling me how rude the French are.

At the end of the day, there’s only so far you can get with annecdotal evidence and I’m not really trying to suggest one country is better than the other.

But thinking about these separate instances did make me relieved to have manners, since they go a long way to making life pleasant or otherwise.

Manners are that little sprinkle of sugar on the donut of life.

So if you want to lead a decent life, here’s my suggestion.

Don’t be awful – say please, say thanks and don’t wind down your window and spit out of it.

You’d be amazed what a difference this can make.