On meetings

Celluloid, Handshake, Whitehead & Hoag, 1892

Charles Dickens said ‘Life is made of ever so many partings welded together’ and of course with those partings are meetings but how indeed should greet each other?

Today thankfully the handshake is still very much alive, the faux cheek kiss, the hug and a normally reserved simple greeting such as ‘hello’ or ‘hi’.

In the morning stroll down to the local newspaper shop with my daughter the greeting of ‘morning’ is occasionally given which is quite pleasant.

A well-bred man must entertain no respect for the brim of his hat. ” A bow,” says La Fontaine, ” is a note drawn at sight.” You are bound to acknowledge it immediately, and to the full amount. The two most elegant men of their day, Charles the Second and George the Fourth, never failed to take off their hats to the meanest of their subjects. Always bear this example in mind ; and remember that to nod, or merely to touch the brim of the hat, is far from courteous.

I guess a nod is still used, maybe in passing between acquaintances or just in passing in a corridor with a work colleague.

True politeness demands that the hat should be quite lifted from the head. On meeting friends with whom you are likely to shake hands, remove your hat with the left hand in order to leave the right hand free.

Hats…well as a race the British general don’t wear hats that would be considered in this sort of aspect. Baseball hats have been quite fashionable for a while, and they are fine for keeping the sun off but should never, ever be worn by the more senior members of our society or perspective prime ministers such as William Hague…a lesson learnt there for all I believe.

Now we turn to the fairer sex:

If you meet a lady in the street whom you are sufficiently intimate to address, do not stop her, but turn round and walk beside her in whichever direction she is going. When you have said all that you wish to say, you can take your leave. If you meet a lady with whom you are not particularly well acquainted, wait for her recognition before you venture to bow to her. In bowing to a lady whom you are not going to address, lift your hat with that hand which is farthest from her. For instance, if you pass her on the right side, use your left hand ; if on the left, use your right

A bit politeness doesn’t go amiss in life does it, although nowadays it does seem a bit of a strain for people in general but Routledge does point out a few simple 

When you meet friends or acquaintances in the streets, the exhibitions, or any public places, take care not to pronounce their names so loudly as to attract the attention of the passers by. Never call across the street : and never carry on a dialogue in a public vehicle, unless your interlocutor occupied the seat beside your own.

There’s nothing worse than boorish noisy buffoons being too loud without a thought for all those around them. How much better the world might be with manners and politeness!

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