Oooops! Sorry Ma'am....
You may remember in my first blog, a couple of weeks ago, that I had just bought a 1930’s Household Encyclopedia (for 50p!) at a car boot sale. It really is totally fascinating, and I have been absorbed by it’s kitsch practicality; wondering if my Granny ever would have followed any of the advice it contains.There are some very weird and wonderful sections: Care of Ropes, Poultry Keeping for Pleasure and Profit, Mangles, Insulating a Kettle’s Handles, An Easily Made Dove Cote, Cooking By Electricity, Recipes for Fritters, How to Fold Serviettes, Saws and Their Use... to name but a few examples! However, the chapter that has caught my interest is Etiquette; especially when I witness some of today’s youth and their apparent inability to say ‘Excuse Me’ or even a simple ‘Thank You’
So here are a few little gems that may amuse you....
“An invitation to attend a dinner is considered the highest compliment that can be offered by one person to another. It therefore necessitates prompt and courteous acceptance, unless a very sound excuse can be offered. Those who are inconsiderate enough to omit to write at once, or make some trivial excuse at the last moment for not keeping the appointment, must expect to be ignored on any future occasion,”When introducing people: “The lady of lower rank should be introduced to the lady of higher rank, and if possible the wishes of the latter should be obtained before making the advance.” And “Always introduce a gentleman to a lady, of any rank, but remember to ask his permission if the purpose of making the introduction is to ask the lady to dance, or escort her to supper.”
“In her own home a lady must shake hands with every person introduced to her. To omit to do so indicates ill manners...”
“Visiting-cards should not be posted, but left in person. The privilege of leaving cards is given to every lady to exercise at her discretion. Card-leaving is one of the most important of social observances.”
“For convenience of slipping into small-size pochettes, a lady may adopt the size of a card more usual for a gentleman, but so often the address of her town house as well as of her country home has to be indicated...”
“A married lady does not use her own Christian name on her card, but may include that of her husband.”
“When meeting new acquaintances do not say: “I am pleased to meet you” but smile and bow, or say “How do you do?”
“At a dance a lady wears her gloves, as gentlemen are required to do.”
“After dinner the table napkin (the term serviette should not be used) must not be folded but placed at the side of the plate or put onto the chair.”
“Second helpings are never eaten, if offered.”
Wow! Have you got all that??! How times have changed in just 70 years... And if you are now worried about how conduct yourself next time you are invited to attend a royal garden party (You’ve never been invited?? Me neither!) then good old Debrett’s (click here) have their very own updated version of the etiquette advice...And one final offering...
“It is neither polite nor wise to discuss food value, nor mention any kind of food that is not present. To request the recipe for making any dish is equally unwise. When cakes are offered at a tea party, the question “Are these homemade?” denotes a curiosity that is not in good taste.”