Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Britain may be a mere shell of her former self rapidly sliding into cultural oblivion, but at least she’s doing so quietly and without a fuss:

The British reputation for restraint and good manners appears to be fully justified, a survey has shown.

Nearly three quarters of Britons would instinctively apologise when somebody bumps into them – rather than telling the offending individual to watch where he or she is going.

Despite the emotional outpouring which accompanied the Olympics and Jubilee over the summer, 69 per cent of respondents still considered Britain a reserved nation.

London and the South East emerge as the regions where maintaining a stiff upper lip remains the default mode of behaviour, while those living in the North East and North West were the most effusive.

Friends of the decanter who have met Real Life Robbo will know that he tries to practice the fine art of self control himself.  And, with the exception of certain dealings with his children from time to time, he’s generally able to maintain an unflappable calm before the world.  After all, Robbo’s Eleventh Commandment has always been Thou Shalt Not Make A Fool Of Thyself In Publick.

I have noticed various reactions to my staid reserve over the years ranging from puzzlement to determination to get me to come out of my shell to sneaking suspicion of being looked down upon.  While I have for the most part found such reactions amusing, I have on occasion run across someone so eager to poke through the mask as to become downright obnoxious about it.  A certain Duck Tours driver in Bahston a couple years ago comes to mind, as do all those damned Disney characters who seemed to swarm around me the time I was dragooned to Disney World and wanted nothing more than to eat my tasteless yet monstrously expensive lunch in peace and quiet.

This past weekend provided an example of a real near-miss in this category.  As mentioned below, the Family Robbo went off to a local punkin’ festival for the day.  And when I could pull myself away from the chunkin’-ator, the younger gels and I strolled over to take in the pig races.  These take place in a little dell off to one side, the corral and “race track” at the bottom and bales of hay spread ampitheatre-like for the backsides of the audience.  Each race features four porkers in different racing colors – red, yellow, blue and green.   Prior to each race, the master of ceremonies chooses four members of the audience to come forward and hold flags of corresponding colors, there to act as cheerleaders for their respective piggies.

For most of the races, the selected cheerleaders are children.  (The youngest gel got picked for one.)  However, for one of the races, the MC chooses adult cheerleaders.  And while he selects kiddies based on their displays of enthusiasm, he does the exact opposite with the grown-ups, going out of his way to tag what look like the most reserved or bored or otherwise distracted victims.   And as I sat there, suddenly feeling remarkably Simon Tam-like, I saw him take a good long look at me.   Fortunately (perhaps because he had already tapped the gel), his eye suddenly shifted to a quiet, rayther timid looking woman sitting a few seats away, and he picked her.  It was as if the chunkin-ator had been wheeled round and sent a punkin’ screaming past my ear.

And it was just as well, because not only did this fellah have these four victims go down front and hold flags, he also made them dress up in ridiculous bird costumes and do a chicken dance for the amusement of the many-headed.  I like to think that had I found myself in that situation I’d have born up gamely under it, but I am nonetheless extremely glad that I didn’t have to.

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