Our Century

Founder of the Polite Society

Ian Gregory Born 1933

Ian Gregory

"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.

"Early last century there was a Society for the Reform of Manners, particularly in Parliament where people threw things at each other.

"The national 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?"