25/07/2011 08:03 BST | Updated 14/01/2012 06:54 GMT

Manners and Mothers-in-Law-From-Hell

So where did your friends stand on the mother-in-law from hell (MILFH) email?

I'm a teacher (no I'm not about to whinge), merely to ponder about the current debate on Manners.

Having taught in the state sector for many years, and loved and hated it equally for various reasons which I won't go into now, I fairly recently began a second teaching career in a private school. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Is it normal for children to shake you by the hand at the end of the day and say 'Good afternoon'? Am I hearing correctly when children thank me for the lesson, or wish me a happy weekend, ask about my holidays, open doors for me and carry bags without being prompted?

It would appear it can be entirely 'normal', if that's what parents want and teachers expect. And what a pleasant environment, and happy place it makes it to work. I regale tales of politeness to colleagues in state schools who listen enviously (and probably wish I'd shut up or think I must work in a Dickensian institution), but face an uphill struggle to inculcate this level of manners. You can just get on with teaching and enjoy life. Now I know that there are many fabulously polite children in almost every state school, but the fact that the manners I now encounter make life so much easier. It is certainly a reason to teach them in the first place, and certainly a reason to teach people only to write down what they don't mind the world knowing. As we now know what one writes, can be as damning as what one says or does.

But, back to the debate on MILFH, what if it was my daughter being criticised? I know I'd want blood! Especially as I thought I'd taught her properly in the first place. Can you blame the Dad, but then I know I'd have felt the same way as the MILFH on bad manners. Basically I sit totally on the fence in this one, I'd have wanted the best of both worlds. I suspect that the good old British way of mild compromise would have been best, a quite word in my stepson's ear about the ways his future wife might endear herself to the rest of the family would be more likely to produce a change in behaviour than an abusive email.

Oh, and by the way, just for the record, my son in law did write me a letter after he first came to visit. How lucky am I?

Anyway, maybe I should sign off as Miss Smugness, as I guess that's how it comes across, but lets hope it's not Miss Fancy Pants!