Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Driving Manners - Road Rage

Once in a car, normal manners may fly out of the window. Perhaps it's because, with all that metal in which you are encased, you feel more invincible; perhaps it's because you know another driver may not hear you through the glass windows and engine noise. Perhaps it's because other road users are simply so annoying...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Travel Bores

It is an unfortunate fact of life that, for some people, the book of their travels is all too thick. Travel bores are one of the unfortunate side effects of the travel revolution - where once, the tales of derring-do abroad of Golden Age explorers and discoverers could thrill for hours, now just the mention of a slide show or travel diary can chill the blood.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Public Transport

Overcrowded, over-heated, running late, not running at all - it is scarcely surprising that the myriad deficiencies of public transport are a daily challenge to good
manners. Packed as tight as a sardine in a can, scarcely audible announcements
crackling overhead, your neighbour's sharp-edged briefcase barking your shin,
 shrill mobile phones trilling in your ear - whose temper wouldn't get frayed?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Manners – Discussing Weight

 It seems to be a contemporary truism that a low weight is desirable. Whatever your view about commonly held presumptions it is surely plain bad manners to single out the people who are not close enough to that mythical low weight. Discussing weight takes up more airtime, in more gym changing rooms, round more office water coolers and in more coffee shops than any other subject except, perhaps, the weather. Vital statistics are now vital stays of conversation.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Food Manners – Dieting

It is one of life’s pure little mysteries that every woman, no matter how thin or perfect other people consider her to be, will be on a diet at some point in her life. No matter that diets are frequently ineffective, and are both tedious for the dieter and exponentially more tedious for those having to hear about it, all women – and men, in increasing numbers – are conditioned to seek the Holy Grail of the perfect diet for the perfect body. So dieting is here to stay.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Good Manners - How to Age Gracefully

Children are proud to be getting older. It’s the rest of us, especially those who feel they are rapidly approaching their second childhood, who have a problem with revealing our age. Could this be because we live in a society that is obsessed with the cosmetic appearance of ageing, that despises old people rather than venerates their experience, that no longer prizes old things but discards them as obsolescent, whether they are microwaves or celebrities?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Table Manners

Dining politely should be second nature – or should at least appear to be. We all indulge in less-than-perfect behaviour in private, or in very familiar company, but some consistency at home and away will help you avoid the more heinous table offences.

The cardinal dining crime is eating noisily; nothing is more likely to get you noticed and promptly blacklisted. Keeping your mouth closed while chewing and taking care not to overfill it will enable you to breathe steadily. Eat at a relaxed pace and really think about your food. Not only does this make you appreciate what’s on your plate, but it can also help you moderate your intake if you are so inclined. Wolfing down course after course will make you appear greedy. This is particularly important when dining à deux; your date will feel exposed if you gobble your food, put down your knife and fork and attempt full-throttle conversation while he or she is still eating.

Talking while there is food in your mouth should be avoided at all costs – even when you have a conversational gem up your sleeve. Try to avoid directing a question at someone who is mid-mouthful, but don’t despair if you mistime. A smile and an understanding nod will encourage them to swallow without rushing, spluttering or making sheepish gestures.

When dining in a group, always put others’ needs before your own. Do your bit in offering communal dishes around the table, and hold them to assist your neighbour. If you are served a meal that is already on the plate, wait until everyone has been served before picking up your cutlery.

Elbows should remain elegantly poised, but not resting on the table. Napkins should be dealt with as soon as you sit down, and placed on your lap – never tucked into the front of your shirt. Never gesture with your cutlery, and keep the tines of your fork facing downwards – unless it is your sole eating implement, in which case using it scoop-style is acceptable. Always move the soup spoon away from you, tipping the bowl in that direction, if necessary. Break off pieces of bread and butter them in bite-sized pieces. When you have finished, place your knife and fork – with the tines facing upwards – together on your plate.

If you are confronted with a plateful that is not to your taste, try to soldier on to avoid hurt feelings.  Always compliment the cook – whatever you feel about the food... it's simply good manners to do so.

Miss Debrett's Top Tips

  • The golden rule is to never eat noisily, or chew with your mouth open.
  • Never talk when your mouth is full, and avoid asking people questions if they are mid-mouthful.
  • If you are dining in a group, always put other people's needs before your own.

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