Etiquette. Does anyone care anymore?

I’m not sure if age has anything to do with this, but as I get older I am less tolerant of uneducated, rude, ignorant and badly behaved adults. Never has this been more true, than in this last week of the Spring Racing Carnival here in Melbourne. The Racing Carnival has become a window into the reality that is our society….yes, we go out of way: perfectly coiffed hair, nails, make-up, fascinator or hat, the perfect frock or suit, and the mandatory glass of bubbly to top it off. For the first couple of hours we shine; it could almost be mistaken for Royal Ascot. Elegance, class and intelligent conversations. But then something happens inexplicably, that turns these icons of style and grace into rude, uncouth, rowdy, drunken beings that put the spotlight on what (I think) is really lacking in society today – etiquette.

Etiquette can be defined as: rules of acceptable behaviour: the rules and conventions governing correct or polite behavior in society in general or in a specific social or professional group or situation. Its synonyms include manners, good manners, protocol, custom, propriety, decorum and politeness.

I don’t find walking around Flemington with your dress hitched up and tucked into your knickers (because it’s just too hot), whilst no longer wearing your heels to be acceptable behaviour, nor do I think passing out on the lawns or heaving behind a marquis to be polite behaviour. Where is the decorum in drunken, almost unconscious PDA’s (aka a good old pash and feel up with a stranger)? Why do so many Australians have  difficulty controlling their drinking? Why is getting “smashed” such a pleasure? When did losing all control and propriety become so acceptable? The media have a field day every year with this behaviour; photos are printed in newspapers, magazines, on-line with very negative headlines. But no-one seemingly notices or cares. I’ve heard people say: “it’s all just a bit of fun” or “it’s an Aussie tradition”. Really? because right now I’m not feeling very ‘Aussie’.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to get dressed up, dolled up and get out there and have fun just like everyone else. I love my bubbly even more. I can count the number of times I have “behaved badly” due to excessive alcohol, on one hand, and I can guarantee that those occasions were all in my early twenties. Then I think I grew up. I enjoy my alcohol, I appreciate my alcohol…I suppose you could say “I drink responsibly”..but most importantly, I never loose faculty of my senses. I also think it is my responsibility not to offend anyone with my behaviour. That doesn’t mean I can’t have fun, down a few glasses of bubbly, make a few bets, and partake in a marvellous event. Yet still manage to get home with my shoes on!

Re-reading what I have just written makes me sound as though I’ve just stepped out of Downton Abbey but I am genuinely concerned. I have two young daughters. I want them to make their mistakes, take a few wrong turns, and learn and grow from them. I certainly don’t want to smother them and refuse them the right to grow. But I have every intention of teaching them the basics of correct etiquette. I’m sure they will want to attend the carnival when they are old enough and I, sure as hell, don’t want their knickers plastered all over the cover of the Herald-Sun!

Happy punting to all!

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