Donald Trump maybe one of the richest men in the world but he needs to learn one of my father’s mantras, good manners cost nothing. And if manners maketh man, Mr President is sadly lacking. In an interview with Piers Morgan, an interviewer who cuts up interviewees and co-hosts as cringingly as Trump cut up the Queen, the President said Her Majesty was “beautiful inside and out”. What the Queen thought of him is not on record, though I doubt she will be inviting him back for a private visit as she did the Obamas, who I have it on good authority she adored, especially Michelle.
But then they both have humility... and beautiful manners. As does the Queen. Donald Trump was not only the Queen’s guest, she is his elder and as such deserved to be treated accordingly. Nevertheless, for me, the biggest disappointment of the well-documented event was not that the monarch had to sidestep a man whose idea of diplomacy is speak first and justify later, or, if all else fails, accuse the media of making it all up. It is that we responded with a protest which was ever so slightly crass and lacking in taste – somewhat ironic in itself. And I am not talking about diversity here. I loved the drag demo, every glorious decadent part of it.
I would defend the rights of everyone to take to the streets and make their voices heard. That is the bedrock of democracy, which let’s not forget America helped us defend, and it can lead to momentous change. Think the Suffragettes, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. And in my view there is much about Donald Trump’s policies to protest about. His attitude towards women, immigrants, and race are abhorrent to me. As is his me, me, me approach. As my mum would say, he likes the sound of his own voice too much.
In so many ways I was glad that Britain showed itself to be more tolerant and inclusive during his un-statesmanlike not- quite-official state visit. (Who else would praise the man who had just left the table rather than the host, when she was stood right next to him?) I just wish we had done so in a more gentle and yes, British way. Let’s face it flying a baby Trump blimp that was more like an oversized birthday balloon is hardly going to deflate an ego that size.
What I found hard to accept was the number of placards and indeed chants that were downright profane. Swearwords seemed to jump out of the screens, giving broadcasters “going live” a nightmare, and led to the words, not the message, shocking social media. Telling Trump where to go in the crudest of terms seemed downright ill-mannered, which is exactly what we accused Trump of when he met the Queen.
I must be getting old but watching it unfold I was reminded of a quote from a gentleman of a gentler age. It was Fred Astaire who said “the hardest job kids have today is learning good manners without seeing any”. If it was true in that era, it’s certainly true now. I wouldn’t have wanted any youngster I know trying to make out the words on some of those banners.
I like good manners. I don’t like children who stick their tongues out in photographs. It drives me insane to see them glued to their iPads at the dinner table, especially in restaurants. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ are still the most important words they will ever learn and the greatest compliment a parent can be given is that their children know when to behave. I come from an era when you were taught to ask to leave the table after a meal and you gave up your seat for an elderly person, or any adult for that matter. I don’t see it as any less important today or any less important in adult life. As anyone interviewing for a job will tell you social skills are just as important as any technical skills. And that means being able to shake someone’s hand and look you in the eye.
I like the fact that my husband opens the door for me or indeed any of my female friends. And I don’t like women who would rather slam it in his face. That’s not feminism. That’s rude. ‘After you’, does not mean ‘above you’. It means ‘I respect you’.
There was plenty of wit and that oh-so British trait of understatement on display during the anti-Trump rally. My favourite was simply “Where do I start?”. Though I quite liked “We shall over comb.” But there was also a small part of me left feeling a little grubby, if not about the sentiments, about the way they were expressed by some. Profanities won’t hurt this President.
As my father used to say, it’s not nice and it’s certainly not clever.