"I founded the
Polite Society in 1986. At the time it didn't seem terribly significant
but I suppose, with hindsight, it was. It really took off. One of
the local pubs was even re-named after me, The Polite Vicar, although
I'm actually a minister in the Congregational Church.
"Later we changed
the name to the Campaign for Courtesy. We decided the word "polite"
had passed its sell-by date.
century there was a Society for the Reform of Manners, particularly
in Parliament where people threw things at each other.
mood was very ugly in those days. Then society just touched the
tiller away from that sort of communal savagery. In Parliament things
are much better than they were.
"Our theme for
1998 was politeness in sport with a special day reserved for our
Fair Play Code. It turned out to be one of the few Saturdays when
not a single red card was shown anywhere in the Football League,
which may have been significant.
"I think there
is a great need for more courtesy in sport. I remember watching
Derby County at the Baseball Ground in the 1950s and the players
were quite immaculately behaved on the field. For players like Peter
Doherty and Raich Carter, the very idea of committing a foul was
quite unthinkable . They taught us that this was how sport should
be. It was just as competitive as it is today but it was clean.
"For 1999 our
theme was politeness among young people. We invited children to
write an essay explaining why good manners are so important. I suppose
it's a matter of getting em young isn't it?"