Thursday, January 25, 2007

Smart thinking

Being old fashioned and something of a conservative, I believe that the way you present yourself to other people demonstrates your regard - or lack of it - for other people. In fact, nothing reflects a society more clearly in my view. I still shave every day, wear a suit and tie for work (even though it's not required by my company) and always make sure my shoes are smart, clean and well polished.

I mention this today as, for the second time in six months or so, there were bobbies on the beat in the part of town where I live (twice in six months!!! - have I missed a revolution?). Although I am always pleased to see policemen patrolling on foot, I was not particularly happy about the way they presented themselves to the public.

Neither seemed to know what a razor was for, their boots were filthy and unpolished and their visible uniform was crumpled and tatty looking. With their dayglo donkey coats over their flak jackets they looked more like a cross between a Hezbollah militant and a navvy than British policemen.

I know the modern mantra these days is "please yourself" and that this means, for many, dressing for comfort and convenience rather than to make oneself look presentable, but am I alone in thinking that Britain would be a much nicer place to live - even if only on the surface - if we all took a little more care and attention over our appearance?


Tom Tyler said...

Interesting point, Stan. Broadly speaking, I do agree with you, although personally I'm rather bohemian and scatterbrained by nature (and this often reflects in my dress-sense, at least when I'm not aiming to present myself as an accountant. It's shirt and necktie for business purposes; cowboy boots, jeans, belts, oversized shirts, mad hair and stubble for social purposes). Plus, amateur stage commitments often oblige me to grow unwieldly beards or long hair, as is the case at present. However, regardless of my outward appearance, I strive to be presentable by maintaining good manners: holding doors open for people, smiling and saying "hello there" even to checkout assistants whose greetings may be mere standard scripts, never refusing a couple of quid to a beggar crouching in a corner of the shopping street, stopping to have a few minutes' friendly chat with the neighbours, all these little things in life.
Actually, I'm quite surprised at your description of those local coppers. Round here, I've never noticed them looking shabby, from what little I've seen of them.

Stan said...

I don't want you to get the idea that I'm some sort of fashion nazi - I'm not. Like a lot of men my age, I pay little attention to my clothes as far as style is concerned. Most of my clothes are pretty old and I don't have a designer label to my name. I've got one good, bespoke suit and the rest are very ordinary.

I said I shave everyday, but that was slightly misleading as I will occasionally go without if I know I'm going to be staying at home and not going out in public.

Manners and politeness are essential in my book, but, to me, that includes making an effort in your appearance. Oddly enough, many people - particularly in showbiz - make extraordinary efforts to make it look like they've made no effort!

Good manners, to me, includes making oneself presentable before venturing out in public. It sends out the message "I respect your sensibilities". Being unkempt and unshaven sends out the message "I don't care what you think" - particularly to the older generation.

Apart from anything else, I find that a smarter, cleaner more presentable appearance draws politeness and good manners from others. Other people respond when they see that you are making an effort yourself. If they think you couldn't care less, then they will probably not care less either.