Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Little Formality Adds a Civil Tone to the Casual '90S

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Little Formality Adds a Civil Tone to the Casual '90S

Article excerpt

Anyone who has ever sputtered silently at the sight of fellow diners wearing body-baring T-shirts and baseball caps in a good restaurant might take heart from a new policy being adopted by various hotels in Britain. Tired of complaints from a growing number of guests about "scruffy and unkempt" patrons, managers are reintroducing dress codes, those seemingly quaint artifacts of an earlier era when eating out meant following basic rules of decorum, such as: Don't go to a nice restaurant looking as if you just finished changing the oil in your car.

Nearly half of the three-star hotels responding to a survey by the British Hospitality Association say they are banning tattoos and unconventional haircuts. Although they aren't insisting that customers must always wear a jacket and tie, their "no riff-raff" policies draw the line at football jerseys and T-shirts.

Would-be patrons who have been refused service because of their appearance have not been amused, to put it mildly. But other customers have expressed appreciation and support, hoteliers say. Britain has no corner on sloppiness and declining standards, of course. On this side of the Atlantic, pollster Daniel Yankelovich finds that Americans are tired of daily "small indignities" that signal a lack of respect and a loss of civility. As a result, he says, an overwhelming majority now rank the issue of respect second only to family values in its importance on the nation's cultural agenda. Elsewhere, other signs also point to the possibility that higher standards of conduct may be poised to make a comeback. American teenagers, concerned about their safety, have told interviewers for a new survey that they want stricter rules in schools. That wish will soon become a reality in Britain. This week, government curriculum advisers are putting finishing touches on an official blueprint to improve behavior and promote good manners among young people. Concerned about the rise of an "impolite" society throughout Western countries, Nick Tate, the chief executive of the curriculum authority, laments the disappearance of the idea that manners are important. …

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