She brought me up to always appreciate hospitality. Any kindness no matter how small or large should be received with a humble thank you. Sometimes you may not particularly enjoy it, but all the same you show appreciation and good manners.
It seems that one of our local Councillors was brought up to have rather different standards. I had fully intended to write a blog about something completely different, but I picked up the Barnet Press and just couldn't let this pass.
Councillor Brian Coleman, my GLA representative has a column in the Barnet Press. It is on page 9. The title this week is "The real cost of my free dinner". It is an article about his recent attendance at the annual Lord Mayor's banquet at the Guildhall.
Coleman says "Times may be hard in the City of London, but the new Lord Mayor, the rather sensible and level-headed Alderman Ian Luder, ensured that guests, led by the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, enjoyed traditional City hospitality". In laymans terms a great big slap up dinner with lots of free booze (not your ASDA own brand either).
Coleman, complaining about a boring speech from Gordon Brown, continues
"In order to keep myself awake - as Boris Johnson said to me, the only way to get through this evening is to drink all the alcohol put before you - I started counting the platitudes that flowed effortlessly from the PM. 'We must go forward not backwards' he said as the chief commoner nodded off, 'look to tomorrow not yesterday' as the retiring Chief of the General Staff nodded sagely".
In this day and age when most city workers are worrying about their next mortgage payment, rather than their next free dinner, Coleman shows what he really cares about. Himself. Doesn't he realise that when you receive an invitation for dinner, it really isn't the done thing to complain in the press about how boring it was. Not only that but isn't it bad form to start implying other guests felt the same. If you have to attend a banquet and you are stuck next to Coleman, what indiscretion will he print about you in next week's paper?
In a world where many people in Africa are walking miles for a bag of rice to feed their family, Brian Coleman thinks a difficult meal is one where he has to be quiet and listen to someone else for ten minutes. I'd advise this note of caution to the many individuals and organisations who invite Coleman to all of his free dinners listed elsewhere on this blog. If he doesn't like your choice of speaker or finds something to taunt a fellow diner with in his column the following week, he will. The proof is there on page 9 of the Press. If I were you I'd find someone with grace and good manners to ask. Perhaps someone who would actually appreciate a decent slap up meal, rather than drone on like a spoilt 13 year old "it's all so dull".
You can just see a red faced, puffy cheeked, bloated Coleman at the end of the night, as he get's into his taxpayer funded cab home, exclaiming "The things I have to suffer for my constituents".
Memo to Boris and Dave : Is this really the face of modern Conservatism you want to project?