My flatmate in medical school was destined, I was fairly certain, to become a great man.
It was not his intelligence - which was assuredly high - or his diligence - we were all businesslike study drudges.
Nor much about outward impression - he was awkward of movement, stammered slightly and wore his father's hand-me-down suits of 30 years' vintage.
But Charles Kuhn III, aka "Chick" had consummate good manners, was quietly thoughtful toward all and cheerful almost always.
The callow youth that I was at the time needed to ask him about the basis of his considerate demeanour.
Chick explained himself with the casual insight of one accepting of himself; "I'm very shy," he said.
"And I've found that with good manners I can keep people at a manageable social distance."
It was the best prescription and rationale for civility in human undertakings I had received up to that time.
It has stood me in good stead in situations fraught with ambiguity and even danger.
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At times when I've worked with patients in acute in-patient psychiatric hospitals, where the potential for violence is on occasion actualised, my treatment of patients and staff with firmness and good manners has generated mutual respect that promoted safety for all.
In those psychiatric hospitals and at Standford House I insisted that staff and patients adhere to a practice of courtesy and respect, a means of maintaining psychic boundaries to promote the necessary safety within which therapeutic interactions are possible and without which a therapeutic outcome is unlikely.
Boundary-free environs invite violence and the necessity of physical restraint. Overt power and therapy are incompatible.
"Good fences make good neighbours," is the proverb Robert Frost quoted in Mending Wall.
In coming here to Whanganui, I encountered a culture which generally valued civility.
It was a calm city, certainly not without problems, and with differing views on how to solve things.
But as a polity we could disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Then for a while we endured a man whose name like Voldemort's own I will not pronounce.
Readers know who I'm alluding to.
He brought a different tone to the place, one of insult, of name calling, of divisiveness and outright bigotry.
I think people were seduced into thinking he represented a renewal of the commerce of the town through the flash of his celebrity.
"He'll put us on the map," was the phrase of excuse I heard, most often. And his promise to keep rates low.
As one of our readers put it: "A promise to keep rates low does not mean good governance."
It took time but the facts and our mounting debt finally closed the gate on this man's backside.
We're slowly recovering as our robust democratic debate continues under leaders more cognisant of the need for civility and mutual respect.
I wish I could say the same about the two English speaking nations of our adherence.
Two and a half years of Trump, aided and abetted by my former party, have given almost daily proof of the way the unbridled tongue of a leader conflicts with good governance.
The instant gratification of one person, the President, has just about depleted the capacity of the rest for common purpose.
Political adversaries no longer believe in the good faith of the other signified by that ultimate nativist question: Just who is a real American?
While deck chairs are being rearranged, the literal iceberg of global warming approaches.
And historians referred to the insanity of the run-up to 1914 as the march of folly.
What to say about our time as the US lurches from tweet to outrageous tweet.
As if the world needed another Trump, his discourteous doppelganger now sits in 10 Downing St, promises to perform miracles in 100 days and prepares his stand-up act in time to claim St George's mantel for the coming behemoth of Brexit.
We'll soon find out whether hot air can counter a real dragon's breath. Lot's of luck Alexander Boris dePeffel Johnson.
Good luck UK.