A couple of weeks ago I was in what I thought was a queue for a shuttle bus to take me to the office of the off-airport car hire company I was using in Mallorca.

I’m British after all and that’s what we do – queue.

Everyone else who was waiting with me was German, by reputation the most ordered and law abiding of people.

Then the bus arrived – and the queue disintegrated into a sharp-elbowed, pushing and shoving free-for-all.

I was shocked, a little bit offended and I have to admit, slow to react.

Needless to say, I didn’t make it on the bus.

Surely this was an aberration, I thought.

But no, it wasn’t.

When the next bus arrived, there was a surge akin to the Mongol Horde sweeping across the steppe.

I didn’t make the same mistake twice and fought my way to a seat on the bus.

But it felt uncomfortable, it felt impolite and not the way we do things.

And it set me thinking.

Are we now a less polite and mannered society than we used to be?

Is the concept of good manners simply a thing of the past?

Ask yourself when was the last time you heard ‘please and thank-you’?

When was the last time someone held open a door for you?

When was the last time someone said ‘bless you’ when you sneezed?

As Dominic Utton writing in The Telegraph put it: “When was the last time you caught a train and there wasn’t someone’s bag occupying a seat? How often are pregnant ladies or the elderly forced to stand, as perfectly able people enjoy a sit down?

“Then there are those who don’t let other passengers off the train first, before barging in themselves.

“Those who cycle on the pavement – or drive their cars in cycle lanes. People who walk three-abreast, forcing everyone else into the road; people who don’t clean up after their dogs – or who let their dogs run around in areas of the park designated ‘no dogs.”

I would add a couple of my other pet hates. How about the inconsiderate and selfish drivers who drive into box junctions when their exit isn’t clear, effectively blocking it for everyone else, or those drivers who block side roads when they are queueing at traffic lights?

Then we have spitting in public. Just when did that become acceptable?

And this is one I have touched on before – people loudly shouting four letter words in the street in the middle of the day.

The problem is the slide away from good manners and common courtesy is subtle, incremental and intensely personal.

What I consider rude and bad manners, my son considers normal behaviour among his peer group. It’s ‘banter’ apparently.

In fact, the most worrying aspect of all this seems to me that I am rapidly turning into a version of my own father.

As Dominic Utton added: “The more you look for it, the more you notice it. Waiters, serving staff and shopworkers getting talked down to – or worse, ignored completely in favour of a phone conversation, or a text conversation, or a Twitter update.

“Sainsbury’s was even forced to apologise after a cashier refused to serve a woman who was speaking on her mobile phone at the till. (As if continuing a telephone conversation whilst engaged in face-to-face contact with someone else wasn’t actually the really offensive thing in that situation.)”

This isn’t about class or power or feeling superior, it’s simply a plea for courtesy, for people to be nicer to each other. It doesn’t cost anything and might just make the world a better place.

By our columnist The Fly in the Ointment