Book review: Sorry! The English and their Manners, By Henry Hitchings


Though packed with interest – the first citation of "please" in the OED is from 1774 – this exploration of a topic relevant to all (except hermits) tends to stray off course.

It is hard to know the revelation that "until the late 14th century, urine was used to thicken cloth during its manufacture" applies to manners.

Hitchings hits the spot when he notes "good manners do not cost nothing: they involve small amounts of delay, boredom and physical discomfort", but it is strange that he ignores the most obvious display of bad manners in this litter-strewn land.