What has happened to this country? It’s a question I often ask myself whenever I return from abroad.

After a trip to our son’s in the US, I visited a store at a local retail park in Newport, where I queried the price of a shirt, which was hanging with others of the same style on a rack with a big 30% off sign above. The label said £29.99, while others on the rack were cheaper.

An assistant passed and I asked if this was the reduced price, or, did 30% have to come off. After checking the price at the till, she returned, saying firmly: “No, it’s £29.99”.

I queried the fact that it was on the 30% off rack. She then strolled over to the rack and unceremoniously pulled the sign off and made her way back to the till without an apology, just a glare.

About two weeks before, I was in a San Francisco branch of the same company, where staff were welcoming, bright, friendly and highly professional. Anyone who has ever been to the States would know this is the norm.

Then, while out walking, there were drivers speeding up when we gave plenty of time to cross the road, and the usual cars parked on the pavements, when they didn’t need to.

I’ve lost count of the times on babysitting duty that I had to walk in the road with my granddaughter in her pushchair to get past thoughtless motorists who hog the pavements.

Don’t know if it’s true, but a friend in California said that the penalties for most minor traffic offences are ninety dollars, and, if not paid, a short time in a local prison would happen, which, in the case for San Francisco folk, could be San Quentin. I think that could work over here.

Holding or opening doors for anyone is greeted with nothing more than a straight ahead stare and complete ignorance of your thoughtful act, or people barging into us without an apology.

Not so in the US, where good manners, in the main, strongly prevail.

A moment outside a record shop in downtown LA said it all for me. My wife Pat and I were approaching a group of about twelve kids standing by the main door, looking quite threatening in those puffa jackets and back to front baseball caps.

As we approached, one broke off and opened the door for us and said: “Here you are, sir”. My gast has never been so flabbered.

Obvious lesson here, never judge a book by its cover.

It was a simple gesture, but impressed me, and I thanked him.

I would love to see that over here, but I don’t think it will happen any time soon.

Why do we put up with this, and, again, what has happened to this country?