Holding the door open

Isn’t it just being polite?

Isn’t it just plain courtesy?

Isn’t it just the basic of manners?

Well apparently not! as twice this morning I had a door let go in my face. One woman actually saw me coming and let the door go just as I got there…I mean come on didn’t your parents teach you to be considerate!

In the Victorian era it was fairly straightforward, well I say that but learning the etiquette and manners of the age must’ve been a bit of a task…there does seem to of been much but some still survive such as holding the door open.

I will hold the door open for anyone, primarily it is for the Lady and knowing how to treat here, it is not being sexist but being polite.

Nowadays some gentlemen continue the social etiquette for how to treat a lady, while others require prompting.

Learning how to behave like a gentleman is easy to learn with some coaching and practice and here’s some top tips!

Remember that when you both enter a restaurant or other public venue, take the lead by opening the door before she approaches it and allowing her to walk through first. make sure you then follow her inside.

Pull the chair out from beneath the table for her and gesture for her to take a seat. Once your lady is seated, help her push the chair closer to the table.

Proffer her your hand to help your lady make it successfully up and down steps or hills especially if she is not wearing the appropriate footwear. If she looks cold or it is raining offer you coat.

You will of course ask how she is doing, how work went, how she feels and what she is thinking about, that way you can gauge how the evening should run.

Always offer your seat on a crowded public bus or train.

With these simple steps you will feel better about yourself and please people around you.



Why Britain Should mind its Ps and Qs

Manners maketh man!

I found this on the BBC today, some thoughts on the etiquette and manners which appear to have all but disappeared. An example from only a few days ago…I was on a bus, some males in their late teens made a scrum on to the bus and one of them didn’t pay. The driver wouldn’t move the bus until they got off…so we sat for about 20 mins, eventually a heavily pregnant lady offered to pay but the driver wouldn’t accept, one male got off but he still wouldn’t move eventually everyone was telling him to get off and he did but that in my opinion is a typical snapshot of the lack of thought, etiquette and manners we can expect today…or is it!

“There is just incredible incivility in this country… people are rude to each other… public discourse is so bad mannered… we have come to assume and resign ourselves to the fact that civility is on a permanent and inevitable downward slide.”

So said David Cameron in 2007, echoing a widespread public view that Britain’s behaviour was indicative of a country careering headlong for hell in a handcart.

I do tend to agree, it does appear that people are ruder, short-tempered, impatient, the usual please and thank you seem to have disappeared.

Indeed a BBC poll a few months later suggested 83% of people thought the UK was suffering moral decline.

However the stand out points are the rudeness and lack of social skills but how often do we consider politeness and recall that?

But now along comes the Young Foundation, a social science think-tank, with a report that says such views are not only bunkum but dangerously counter-productive bunkum. Britain might see itself as rudeness central but when you ask about personal experience, sizeable majorities say they get treated with consideration and respect. Concerns about anti-social behaviour appear to be falling and when asked what is good about living in Britain, among the top answers are tolerance and politeness.

“Generalisations about declining standards of civility are inaccurate and problematic”, say the researchers. “While there are flashpoints of incivility, these tend to be contained to certain places or certain times. But in general Britain remains a well-mannered and courteous country. We still compare favourably to Continue reading

On table manners part 3

So the dinner party is going well but are you really going to ruin it by carving the roast with a bread knife or partaking in asparagus in an ill-bred fashion…of course not and Routledges comes up with some great tips:

Always help fish with a fish-slice, and tart and puddings with a spoon, or, if necessary, a spoon and fork. Asparagus must be helped with the asparagus-tongs. In eating asparagus, it is well to observe what others do, and act accordingly. Some very well-bred people eat it with the fingers ; others cut off the heads, and convey them ‘ T the mouth upon the fork. It would be difficult to say which is the more correct.

I never eat food with my fingers if I can help it although it is of course acceptable on some occasions, fruit being such an occasion!

In eating stone fruit, such as cherries, damsons, &c., the same rule had better be observed. Some put the stones out from the mouth into a spoon, and so convey them to the plate. Others cover the lips with the hand, drop them unseen into the palm, and so deposit them on the side of the plate. In our own opinion, the last is the better way, as it effectually conceals the return of the stones, which is certainly the point of highest importance. Of one thing we may be sure, and that is, that they must never be dropped from the mouth to the plate.

Spitting at any time for whatever reason at the meal table is an affront to mankind and should be met with a look of disappointment or utter horror…and don’t forget…

In helping sauce, always pour it on the side of the plate. 

Alcohol is still an important part of any dinner party. A good wine as I stated earlier is readily available for around £5 but the temptation is sometimes to have a touch too much.

If the servants do not go round with the wine (which is by far the best custom), the gentlemen at a dinner-table should take upon themselves the office of helping those ladies who sit near them. Ladies take more wine in the present day than they did fifty years ago, and gentlemen should remember this, and offer it frequently. Ladies cannot very well ask for wine, but they can always decline it. At all events, they do not like to be neglected, or to see gentlemen liberally helping themselves, without observing whether their fair neighbours’ glasses are full or empty. Young ladies seldom drink more than three glasses of wine at dinner ; but married ladies, professional ladies, and those accustomed to society, and habits of affluence, will habitually take five or even six, whether in their own homes or at the tables of their friends.

Continue reading

On table Manners Part 2

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’ and me!

Of course for those of us who are still interested in some semblance of dignity we move forward with Routledges Manual of Etiquette. This is part 2:

As soon as you are seated at table, remove your gloves, place your table napkin across your knees, and remove the roll which you find probably within it to the left side of your plate. The soup should be placed on the table first. Some old-fashioned persons still place soup and fish together; but “it is a custom more honoured in the breach than the observance.”

I can’t say I often use a napkin but when the time arises I shall indeed follow the prescribed advice from above, NEVER EVER tuck it into the neck of your shirt because the is just so, so, so wrong…with that in mind here are some top tips from the Dinner Blog for using a napkin in today’s polite society:

  1. To unfold a cloth napkin, hold a corner and let the napkin unfold as you are picking it up.  Never pop open the napkin.
  2. Once unfolded, refold your napkin in a triangle and place it in your lap with the fold close to your waist.  Never tuck the napkin into your collar, into your belt or between your shirt buttons.  The only time it would be acceptable to tuck your napkin into your collar is when you are enjoying a seafood feast.
  3. Use your napkin before and after taking sips of your drink and whenever it’s necessary.
  4. Continue reading

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

On dressing well

smart chap with his wife 1880

Fashion is something that of course is a matter of taste.

We have casual and of course formal.

Sadly in the last few years fashion for the masses seems to have been provided by faux Sports shops (I tried to buy some shorts in the one last year to be told they don’t sell them in the winter!) providing ‘supposed’ fashionable sports clothes. Sports clothes are comfortable and great for sports…clearly the overriding point of them although maybe this has been missed!

A gentleman should always be so well dressed that his dress shall never be observed at all. Does this sound like an enigma? It is not meant for one. It only implies that perfect simplicity is perfect elegance, and that the true test of taste in the toilette of a gentleman is its entire harmony, unobtrusiveness and becomingness. If any friend should say to ” you, What a handsome waistcoat you have on !” you may depend, that a less handsome waistcoat would be in better taste. If you hear it said that Mr. So-and-So wears superb jewellery, you may conclude beforehand that he wears too much. Display, in short, is ever to be avoided, especially in matters of dress. The toilette is the domain of the fair sex. Let a wise man leave its graces and luxuries to his wife, daughters or sisters, and seek to be himself appreciated for something of higher worth than the embroidery upon his shirt front, or the trinkets on his chain. To be too much in the fashion is as vulgar as to be too far Behind it, No really well-bred row follow every near cut that he sees in his tailor’s fashion-book. Only very young men, and those not of the most aristocratic circles, are guilty of this folly.

Some sound advice from Routledges Manual of Etiquette, it seems like the old phrase ‘less is more’ holds true.

The author of ” Pelham” has aptly said that a gentleman’s coat should not fit too well. There is great truth and subtlety in this observation. To be fitted too well is to look like a tailor’s assistant. This is the great fault which we have to find in the style of even the best bred Frenchmen. They look as if they had just stepped out of a fashion-book, and lack the careless ease which makes an English gentleman look as if his clothes belonged to him, and not he to his clothes.

Our clothes are an important part of our appearance but I would maintain that they need to help bring our personality to the fore, to enhance it and not something to do ourselves a disservice because of cliché and media.

Muffin Tops...an affront to humanity!

The same goes for the Ladies…the so called ‘muffin top’ was an affront to all humanity, for those who don’t know or haven’t seen it the “muffin top” is a generally slang term used to describe the scary phenomenon of overhanging fat when it spills over the waistline of pants or skirts in a manner that resembles the top of a muffin spilling over its paper casing.

So we all need to take some care Continue reading

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!