On table manners part 1

Table manners…a thing of the past. Manners in general seem to be much of a thing of the past everyone revels in the culture of ‘I’. Of course for those of us who are still interested in some semblance of dignity we move forward with Routledges Manual of Etiquette 

To be acquainted with every detail of the etiquette pertaining to this subject is of the highest importance to every gentleman.

Ease, savoir faire, and good breeding are nowhere more indispensable than at the dinner-table, and the absences of them are nowhere more apparent.

How to eat soup and what to do with a cherry-stone are weighty considerations when taken as the index of social status ; and it is not too much to say, that a man who elected to take claret with his fish, or ate peas with his knife, would justly risk the punishment of being banished from good society. As this subject is one of the most important of which we have to treat.

I think it’s fair to say there is nothing more off putting than someone shovelling food into their food hole like it is an bottomless pit and then, God help us, watching as they eat with their mouths open…! So manners maketh man (and of course women)!

An invitation to dine should be replied to immediately, and unequivocally accepted or declined. Once accepted, nothing but an event of the last importance should cause you to fail in your engagement.

Indeed…with the invent of smart phones and us being connected to each other 24hrs a day it makes it easier to reply immediately…as long as you and your good wife’s calendars are synchronised.

To be exactly punctual is the strictest politeness on these occasions. If you are too early, you are in the way; if too late; you spoil the dinner, annoy the hostess, and are hated by the rest of the guests. Some authorities are even of opinion that in the question of a dinner-party “never” is better than “late;” and one author has gone so far as to say, if you do not reach the house till dinner is served, you had better retire to a restaurateur’s, and thence send an apology, and not interrupt the harmony of the courses by awkward excuses and cold acceptance.”

Lateness I am glad to say i still considered rude by most people. Now when I am cooking for friends I have a lateness limit, 15 minutes is usually fine but any more than that and I tend to get a little impatient especially when you have spent 2 or 3 hours cooking.

When the party is assembled, the mistress or master of the house will point out to each gentleman the lady whom he is to conduct to table. If she be a stranger, you had better seek an introduction; if a previous acquaintance, take care to be near her when the dinner is announced, offer your arm, and go down according to precedence of rank. This order of precedence must be arranged by the host or hostess, as the guests are probably unacquainted, and cannot know each other’s social rank.

Social rank is a rather odd thing nowadays. It seems to me that there now Continue reading


Photographic digitizing, conservation and cleaning

I am rather fortunate to have some very old photos of my family such as Great grandmother Symmonds seen above.

This is a portrait photograph taken in a studio from about 1880.

As you can see this image has scratches, and Spotting. It is 130 years old and was kept in a cardboard box so we can’t really expect much more.

So is it easy to bring it back something near to it’s former glory?

The answer is yes…it takes a bit of practice but can be done cheaply and rather effectively I think.

Firstly DON’T scan photos, any photos and it pics up all sorts of dirt. It is actually better to take a photo of a photo in normal daylight with a good camera. I’m fortunate enough to be able to use a Canon 400d SLR, see if you can borrow a good camera to get a good copy.

Photoshop is a great program but with a rather high price tag of £250 (according to Amazon) and it is not an easy package to use.

So I would suggest Photofiltre, its a free piece of software and it just the job for a bit of photo editing or cleaning. You can see the before and after effect of my great grandmother above.

This is a screen shot and quick guide to the tools I usually use. Crop obviously allows to to re-size the image.

The clone to copies any pixel of the photo to anywhere else, so with the man in Fig 1. you can see I have cloned the same shades of grey and black to remove the lines that are on the original. Sometimes with edges you need to smooth them a touch and you can do this with the smudge tool and size adjustment…just practice and it will come.

Fig 1.

Fig 1.

A little conversation – Part 1

Conversation, something we take for granted. However how many people interrupt, talk over or generally talk about nothing!

Routledges Manual of Etiquette offers some great insight to conversation and its proper place in society:

Let your conversation be adapted as skilfully as may be to your company. Some men make a point of talking commonplaces to all ladies alike, as if a woman could only be a trifle.

I guess this is the ‘talking down’ to women that is seen by men in many of the Victorian dramas we see but is that really a surprise when women were not held up as equals as they supposedly are today. (I say supposedly as wages for a man and women doing certain jobs are less). It seems strange to me that with a Queen and a very successful one at that married women had limited rights, the husband was in charge of her legally and bound to protect her, and she was expected again legally to defer to the judgement of the husband. In fact everything hat a women brought into a marriage was the husbands even when divorced. Even if you were able to get a divorce opportunities for women to work was generally limited to the household, domestic service.

In talking with ladies of ordinary education, avoid political, scientific, or commercial topics, and choose only such subjects as are likely to be of interest to them. Remember that people take more interest in their own affairs than in anything else which you can name. If you wish your conversation to be thoroughly agreeable, lead a mother to talk of her children, a young lady of her last ball, an. Author of his forthcoming book, or an artist of his exhibition picture.

This is a very good point even today and I guess most of us probably still do this anyway, I mean what point is there in talking politics or literature to someone who has no knowledge or interest in it.

Having furnished the topic, you need only listen; and you are sure to be thought not only agreeable, but thoroughly sensible and well-informed. Be careful, however, on the other hand, not always to make a point of talking to persons upon general matters relating to their professions. To show an interest in their immediate concerns is flattering; but to converse with them too much about their own arts looks as if you thought them ignorant of other topics.

So the conversation needs to be a balanced one.

Do not use a classical quotation in the presence of ladies without apologising for, or translating it. Even this should only be done when no other phrase would aptly express your meaning. Whether in the presence of ladies or gentlemen, much display of learning is pedantic and out-of-place.

Indeed and as they say down my way ‘de gustibus non est disputandum’!!

There is a certain distinct but subdued tone of voice which is peculiar to only well-bred persons. A loud voice is both disagreeable and vulgar. It is better to err by the use too low low a tone than too loud a tone.

Loud shouty people especially when on a train on bus journey, why can;t they realise they are making everyone’s life a little harder and just shut up.

Remember that all “slang” is vulgar. It has become of late unfortunately prevalent, and we have known even Indies pride themselves on the saucy chique with which they adopt certain Americanisms, and other cant phrases of the day. Such habits cannot be too severely reprehended. They lower the tone of society and the standard of thought. It is a great mistake to suppose that slang is in any way a substitute for wit. The use of proverbs is equally vulgar in conversation ; and puns, unless they rise to the rank of witticisms, are to be scrupulously avoided. There is no greater nuisance in society than a dull and persevering punster.

Continue reading