Good manners and a question of queuing - Argus Friday 26th August 2016

Posted Monday 12th September 2016   By Ericka Waller

SO we are finally in France, after almost missing the flight ( I was in the Airport bookshop, choosing books my children will never leave me in peace to read). Luckily we did not have the Easy Jet attendants who recently caused the flight to be delayed by an hour due to their squabble over a bottle of water 'they both wanted' so we arrived on time. I phoned my dad to tell him to get the kettle on, before realising we didn't have all the paperwork needed to sort out the car hire. We finally persuaded them to give us it anyway by letting our very bored children 'kick off' in the shop. We'd been driving ' on the wrong side' for about five minutes before mounting a curb and blowing out the tyre. There we were, the wrong way down a one way street, trying to put the 'get me home' emergency wheel on in 34 degree heat.

Finally, we were on our way. Not the right way of course, because I was in charge of the French Sat Nav and asked for a route that missed all the toll roads. Our 40 minute journey took us two hours.

The fresh French baguette my mum had bought was no longer fresh by the time we got there.

I didn't mind all these mishaps as much as I minded the 'pusher-inners' in the long queues. The wait to get passports checked was a good hour and a half. The people behind me decided they needed to be through it before anyone else, and that would have been fine, if they had told me as much and asked nicely if they could go in front. 

Saying please and thank you is the cornerstone of a proper upbringing according to a new survey of 2,000 Brits. Good table manners and being well-read came in behind. Smelling nice, being able to walk properly in high heels, not using text speak or drinking from bottles also made the list.

I could not asses them of these other traits. They did not speak, and we all smelt sweaty. I didn't notice them reading any Penguin classics or swigging from cans, but they did try and push past me. 

I'm pretty sure that was not on the list of positive traits required to be classy, but then, nor was my responding behaviour. 

In my defence, I was hot, my children kept ramming me in the back of the knees with their 'Trunki suitcases', I'd been up since 4am. I pushed back.

I decided 'I'm not having this' and so began a game of 'knocking one another out of line with giant hand-luggage bags'.  Neither of us would admit we were competing in the game, and no eye contact was made, but people around us cottoned on. I think the money was on me. "Though she be but little, she be fierce' as the saying goes.

In the end, neither of us won. We got moved into different lines at the very end. That's when the glaring contest began, and I noticed one of them was showing a vast amount of cleavage, not at all classy according to the survey.

And finally, 

A mother wearing a burkini on a beach in Cannes was approached by armed police and threatened with pepper spray if she did not remove her headscarf. She was then given a warning about 'appropriate dress code' for the beach, and given an on-the-spot fine. 

Swimming costumes that cover the entire body (and a women's modesty) have been outlawed in France. Once women got fined if their skirts were not long enough, now they get fined and publicly humiliated if they are not skimpy enough.

What a lovely contrast, that back home in Blightly, a group of Burkini clad women enjoyed a dip in the sea with their children on the hottest day of the year so far.  There is a wonderful photo of the families splashing about in the waves, adding contrast and culture to the bustling Brighton beach.

Culture cannot be criminalised. To segregate Burkha wearers after enjoying so many decades of freedom and inclusion would be a devastating step backwards for us all.

As Siam, the fined former air-hostess from Tolousse said 'Today we are not allowed on the beach. Tomorrow, the street? Tomorrow, we'll be forbidden from practicing our religion at all?"

After paying the fine, a journalist with the France 4 TV channel who witnessed the attack said people crowded round Sian and told her she was not welcome and to 'go home'.

Ironically, the Burkini bans in France have only increased sales figures, particularly from non-Muslim women. The lightweight and quick drying suits have become popular with cancer patients as protection from the sun. Would they be kicked off the beach for wearing one?

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