07 June 2010

Good Manners

My current dinner-table chat consists of testing people on the late lovely James Michie's definition of Good Manners: Considerateness, the less obtrusive the better.

I summarise and therefore miss his graceful prose:

  • Seeing a guest's glass doesnt stay empty
  • Offering a seat to the old or pregnant
  • Turning up on time [whoops, I'm in Greece]
The same if not more goes for Michie's list of bad manners, at which I blush and with which I set the table in an uproar.

  • Continually interrupting someone
  • Jumping a queue
  • Filling in one's weekend host's crossword puzzle
  • Playing tapes in cars sans consulting wishes of the passengers [tapes! shows how old this is]
  • Talking during dinner only to the person one one side [you can imagine how this sets the table abuzz, and do you know? It is not that easy but v funny to watch us all once i have announced the list of faux pas]
  • Taking photographs of other guests sans asking permission - in this age of blogs and the likes of me, guilteh!
  • Smoking twixt courses [again, showing its age]
  • Reading for however a short time in a room in a private house in which there is a general conversation
  • Driving faster than an elderly passenger comfortable [sorry Mum]
  • Going to the theatre with a hacking cough
  • Mending your host's fire
  • Not writing a 'bread-and-butter' letter after staying the night
  • Brutta figura to make up one's face or comb one's hair in public
  • Uncovered yawn
  • Uncouth to telephone before 0830. Also wise to start, "How are you?". I'm always calling in high spirits only to find down the line that there's been a death in the family
  • 'Vestibulitis' - what the wonderful Trish Cookson better defines as 'Porch Paralysis': 'lingering interminably in the porch, bantering and reconfirming arrangements, while the baby wakes and cold air streams in, and then driving off with a series of valedictory hoots'

In my case, it's guests chatting for a further 30 mins about some blithering plant my mother has outside the front door.

Husbands stand white-knuckled as I apologise and promise to buy the flame thrower and frazzle the front drive empty of frigging horticultural discussion points.

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