Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Manner of Speaking

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

A Manner of Speaking

Article excerpt

Byline: gary BAINBRIDGE One man's struggle with the 21st century Follow Gary on Twitter: @Gary_Bainbridge or email him at

AMONG the several things my late mother handed to me during her life, along with psoriasis of the elbow and abnormally large earlobes, was an almost crippling politeness in social situations.

I hold doors open too long, I always take the worst biscuit, and I would rather die than say "no". Some might say that makes me a doormat, but if you were to accuse me of that then I would have to say, "Yes, you are right. That is very perceptive of you. Would you like my last Malteser?" I even said "Cheers, mate" to a cash point a few days ago. In fairness, it had also thanked me for using it so it would have been rude not to do so.

Luckily, there was a man behind me, so I was able to style it out and pretend I was thanking him for waiting so patiently.

You might think this is excessive behaviour, but seeing as in the past I have berated vending machines, with profanities that would make even Mary Berry blush, for withholding bags of crisps, and threatened them with violence, it seems only fair that I acknowledge the robot slaves which make 21st century life possible when they get it right.

With luck, when they become our masters, they will look at me and say, "Yes, he was firm, but fair. We will set him to work in the silicon mines, rather than disintegrating him."

But, until that inevitable day, I have realised that my excessive politeness is holding me back. I am trying very hard to say "no" and to be more assertive in my day-to-day dealings.

Yes, it is like trying to defy gravity; I constantly feel the pull of the "yes" and the people-pleaser.

But when I have done it, and put myself first, I have felt a sense of power and a feeling of my own rightness. This must be what it is like to be a Tory. Even now I am considering buying a pair of red trousers and stealing a fiver from a 22-yearold, just to put myself in touch with those powerful feelings.

In any case, last Friday I found myself in a position in which I had to be assertive to defend my safety and well-being. …

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