AN OPPORTUNITY to indulge in a spot of chivalry gets more rare by the minute.

Try, and you’re likely to be accused of assault or patronising chauvinism. The most vulnerable-looking women can turn into a stone-faced feminist if they think a mere male is questioning their ability to cope.

So when the chance arises, you grasp it – as I did when an elderly woman was struggling to get out of a car in New Road.

“May I help?” I asked.

She smiled sweetly and said her husband – who was making his way none-too-steadily with the help of a stick from the driver’s side – would look after her.

“He has done for nearly 60 years, but thank you all the same,” she said.

This was the cue for the husband to arrive, park his stick, hold open the door with one hand and with the other grasp her arm – and tug. Once out she kissed him on the cheek, hugged him and announced he was her hero.

Who says romance is dead?

THE large man in a colourful Henley blazer was a grandfather – a proud, loud and loving one to boot.

The two boys, circa 11 years, made it clear this affection was returned. Grandma completed the quartet in a supporting role.

A Broad Street shop was bulging with University wear, both smart and sporting. Grandfather made his way noisily towards the Oxford University rugby shirts. He held one up for the excited lads.

“I’ll expect you to earn your shirts by working hard at school, so you can come to Oxford,” he announced firmly. “Nothing short of 100 per cent effort will do.”

The boys’ cheerful expressions faded. Yes, they knew they could each have a shirt but grandad seemed to be imposing unfair conditions.

Grandma read the situation and tried to ease it by saying she was sure they would do their best, but now they were still quite young.

“Now is the time to start,” he said without a hint of humour.

To forfeit a carefree childhood seemed to me a high price to pay for a rugby shirt – even if it carries an Oxford emblem.

MY weekly visit to see which has been the latest business to leave the ‘doomed’ Westgate Centre was drawing to a close.

I reached the main door and held it open for a couple probably in their early 30s.

“I don’t give a **** that you’re hungry. I’m not paying their ****** prices!” he declared, brushing past without a word of thanks to me or concern for his embarrassed wife trailing yards behind. What was it I questioned earlier about the health of romance?