I have blamed my parents for many things over the decades, children often do. Always with tongue in cheek. The main complaint of my adult life has been the ‘good manners’ I had instilled into me. My upbringing has counted against me so often. Don't get me wrong, I don’t wish to have bad manners, never wished I was ill mannered, liar, cheat or unpleasant - well not often:)
But. . . But. . . But . . When one looks around and sees the rude, bullish behaviour which appears to produce results, one cannot but wonder a little if it would be so very very bad to emulate.
I kid you, I think:)
I was given a sound upbringing, by all the norms of the day.
Good table manners were essential when I was growing up. All the usual rigmarole - don't talk with mouth full, ask permission before leaving the tale, eat it up without complaint, even if the food is disliked. Yes, well I learnt them all. You could take me out to eat anywhere with no problem.
So, many decades ago back in the late 60s when I first ventured beyond these shores I knew how to behave in general. Of course different cultures have different small niceties which one picks up on the way - or not!
My first exciting trip abroad was across Europe and into Iran and Turkey. I so enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the whole feel of these places and the friendliness (Iran was one of my top countries for friendliness, how the world changes). Anyway, the time had to arrive when we would be setting off home. We spent a few hours the day of departure in the old town of Istanbul.
We were invited into a tea house,dragged in almost with the owners excitement. Tea houses were the best on those travels. Of varying opulence/seediness and varied cleanliness/hygiene, but all so friendly and atmospheric. This one was superb; decorated in richness and local musicians sending those wonderful plaintive tones across the space. The owner swept us in, all eight of us, seating us at a huge round table and after taking our orders for chai and coffee, declared, as we English were his personal friends?!! we must eat his special Turkish delight, handmade in his own kitchens, from his family's secret recipe.
How much of that was true who knows, who cares? He declared it was 'on the house' and that was enough for the rest of the party but, my heart sank to my little toes. Every Christmas back home Mum’s special treat had been a box of Turkish Delight, I hadn’t like it at all. Hoping against al l sense that handmade in the kitchens would produce a product of such difference I would laugh with delight.I smiled my thanks, as three cubes were placed before me.
It wasn’t the same as back home.
It was worse.
While the others scoffed down their treat, I forced each cloying mouthful past my mouth, the taste and texture fighting with each other to produce a gag reflex. He stood and watched us eat with obvious enjoyment, beaming and nodding his head. There was no place to hide a single sickly part of it.
I managed, I joined with others to praise his delicacies. So good I murmured as I dabbed the sweetness from my lips, washed down the flavour with my chai. Beaming with pride he snapped out orders to some underling and, before we could say a word in protest, another plateful was laid before each of us. The nicety here was, if you praise a dish you automatically receive more, because you obviously haven’t had enough!
We declined a third portion, even the others who had enjoyed it all couldn’t face more.
A dreadful end to the stay in Turkey, at least for my assaulted stomach, which grumbled its discomfort for the few hours we had to wait for the boat to take us to Europe. I have mentioned before, I and the sea do not have fond relationships, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this crossing, especially full of Turkish Delight.
What could be worse!
Well of course there is always something worse. When we arrived on deck we were summoned to be gathered and as a beaming replica of the Tea House fellow, the Captain, smiled down at us from the bridge, it was announced that day was his birthday, and as our guests - guests? we paid for the berth! He was sharing this magnificent birthday cake with us all. We were handed a large plateful of cake. I knew with out tasting, it was going to be awful. Apart from the frosting on top, at least a yard thick (I am not a fan of frosting) the honey fairly oozed from every crumb. The Captain watched intently and with obvious pleasure as we dutifully wished him Happy Birthday and ate the cake.
I was ill for many hours. Not actually sick, that would have been good - unload the misery, no just pea green ill.How I cursed my upbringing then:(
Why oh why couldn’t I have just said no?
Not on your life matey.
Piece of fruit will do just fine, thanks.
Because , decades ago, my mother had told me I shouldn’t:)
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