I WAS in Northwich town centre doing a bit of lunchtime shopping recently and found myself in the queue at the checkout behind a youngish woman.

If I was really pushed to guess how old she was, I’d say mid-30s. She was smartly dressed and I assumed she was an office worker who, like me, had nipped out to do some shopping.

On the face of it, there’s nothing remarkable about this scenario.

What caught my attention was that throughout the whole time I was behind her in the queue, she was on her mobile phone.

In fact, I had first spotted her several minutes earlier wandering around the aisles, basket in one hand, mobile phone in the other.

Even when she reached the cash desk, she didn’t end the call.

She fished round in her handbag, found her purse, paid, gathered up her shopping and left the store, still with her mobile phone clamped to her ear.

Call me old fashioned but I thought this was just a rude and ignorant way to behave and particularly disrespectful to the girl on the till.

But what was even more disturbing was the nature and subject matter of the phone call.

Obviously, I could only hear one side of it but it was conducted at a fairly loud volume – no attempt to be discreet – and was patently with a senior member of staff at her son’s school.

Her son, half the shop would be inadvertently told, seemed to have behavioural problems that were causing concern.

The woman was desperately trying to convince the person on the other end of the call that her son’s behaviour was nothing more than youthful high-jinx and exuberance and there was no need to involve an educational psychologist.

Me and the other people in the queue were then treated to a few minutes of diary management as the woman arranged to go into school to talk over the issue.

By pure coincidence, a couple of days later, a colleague and I walked back to our cars at the end of the working day.

We were standing by our vehicles, having a quick chat when a car pulled up into a space quite close to us.

A middle-aged woman got out, locked her car and stood by her vehicle. She had her mobile phone to her ear and was talking very loudly – some might say arguing – with someone.

It very quickly became apparent it was her husband or boyfriend and it was also very obvious she wasn’t happy with him.

The phrases ‘I’m sick to death of your juvenile behaviour’, and ‘You’ve got to sort yourself out or I won’t be responsible for my actions’ were my personal favourites from this one-sided conversation.

These two incidents set me thinking.

What has the world become that a matters as serious as these can be considered suitable for airing in public?

Surely the woman in the supermarket in Northwich could have found a quiet place to have her conversation and all the woman in the car park needed to do was get back in her car to get all the privacy she would ever need.

But our collective attitude to such things really seems to have changed over recent years. What used to be private is now very public.

Just look at Virgin Trains, if you want a bit of peace on your journey, you have to make sure you get a place in one of the ‘quiet’ carriages otherwise you will be regaled by businessmen on their phones setting up meetings and teenagers playing their music too loudly.

But the problem, and I really think it is a problem, goes even further than this.

You only have to look at social media to see what I mean.

Everyone now seems to think it is not only desirable but essential to tell the world about the minutiae of their lives... and the lives of their children, husbands, cats, neighbours and colleagues.

No, I don’t want to know your baby needs its nappy changing.

No, I don’t want to know you’ve just got back from your holiday in Santorini (I want to see your holiday photo gallery even less).

I don’t want to know what your relationship status is and I don’t want tagging in one of your pictures.

And I really, really don’t need or want to know that in a certain light and from a certain angle, your cat looks a bit like Harry Styles.

Remember the days when we had private lives?

Oh how I yearn for them to return.

What’s happened to traditional British reserve? What’s happened to keeping a stiff upper lip?

Gone, I’m afraid, in a miasma of smart phones, public displays of emotion and Facebook.

Sometimes, things don’t change for the better.