The dilemma is that I was brought up to behave in a “chivalrous” way and to treasure politeness above all else. But now this “old fashioned” behaviour has hit, head-on, the modern age and some enlightened thinking.
So I have met this dilemma with a couple of simple rules:
1. I always hold the door open for everyone. I always look behind me and if there is someone coming within 80 yards of the door (my “80 yard rule”) I hold the door and wait.
2. The only time, in modern life for me, that the “standing up” dilemma applies is in the tube. It happened the other day. Loads of people came in. I was sitting down. There were some women standing but I wasn’t sure if they needed a seat or not. So, to be on the safe side, I stood up and walked away from the seat. I think a woman sat down in my place. I didn’t say anything, gesture or make eye contact. I just stood up. That’s what I always do. My conscience is clear. I have given up my seat to whoever needs it. But I have neatly side-stepped any complex questions about whether or not I am being patronising or condescending.