A couple of feel good factors around town today. One, of course, was the weather. The other, even more of a constant, was the courtesy shown by those I met in the retail industry, mainly on the food and drink side.
Made a ten o’clock call to Nash 19 for a cup of coffee and a scone. Don't know how they pick the staff here but they are all brilliant, all helpful. I know a few by now but even those that are not known to me have the same lovely attitude. No wonder the place is always busy. By the way, bought a pot of my favourite marmalade on the way out.
Then onto the English Market to the Ballycotton Seafood stall. Just one man on duty and a queue building up. He didn’t flinch under pressure as he filleted like Billy-o, all the while showing good humour and courtesy to a customer who didn't seem to be very well up on fish.
The Ballycotton man also kept an eye on the queue, making sure that each was served in turn. He fairly flew through the fish and indeed I noticed two foreign couples who stopped to see him in action. My turn came and I ordered five pieces of hake. Got four from the first fish so that meant he had to go and do another to get the fifth piece. No bother at all and soon I was on my way with a smile on my face, not least because I thought the 10.47 charge was quite reasonable.
Stayed in the Market then and walked across the aisles to the Alternative Bread Company. What a selection they have there. I spotted a Country Baguette, no salt, no dairy. I ordered one and the helpful assistant suggested she’d cut it in two to make for easy carrying. Good idea. The two pieces fitted neatly into a bag and there was no danger of poking any of my fellow bus passengers in the eye.
The courtesy wasn't all from the female side. My very first call was to O’Leary’s Camera World, one of my long-time favourites, there to load up a wagonload of digital files after the recent holiday. Didn't know any of the lads on duty as I started at the machine. Seconds later, a young man came over to know if I wanted any assistance. Didn’t just then but did towards the end and we closed the deal with a smile.
Later I had the pleasure of calling on two naturally courteous gentlemen, Mick Atkins (who runs a rapid jewellery repair service) and Maurice O’Mahony of Karwig Wines.  Not often that the morning’s good humour lasts so long. It will stretch even further if South Africa win this evening, not that I’ve anything against Uruguay.
Some people tell me that the French are rude. While there is always a danger in making general statements about a nation – the French no doubt, proportionately, have as many idiots as we have – I must say that in extended holidays there over the past two years and in many other breaks there before that, I have always found terrific manners and courtesy, in shops, in markets, on the street and on the road.
Maybe we have some catching up to do but I think, led by the service industry and our own good humour, we are getting there, getting very close indeed. We need to do so if the tourists are to keep coming back, same as I’ll keep going back to this morning’s shops and outlets.