The recent publication of a new manual from Debrett's, Bunk Ups, Knee-Tremblers and One-Night Stands - Romantic Etiquette for the Modern Girl has been politely received by the critics. It is high time, they have said, that advice was offered for today's intimate, unscheduled encounters just as it was for yesterday's dinner parties and thés dansants. Modern girls of the spare-pair-of-knickers-in-the-handbag generation may seem supremely confident, but there will be moments - finding themselves in bed with a man whose name they had forgotten to ask, for example - when they will want to reach for Debrett's.
Not a word of advice, needless to say, has been offered to men, who mysteriously are expected to know how to comport themselves in the most impossible situations, in spite of the crisis in masculinity. Filling a gap in the market, my current work-in-progress, A Gentleman's Guide to Dating the Modern Girl, will offer guidance on the more tricky unbuttoned moments of social life.
One being approached by a modern girl at a club and grabbed in an intimate area with the words "Grrr, I'll have some of that, please."
Do not recoil or be affronted, which may cause the modern girl to laugh at you, but introduce yourself calmly and attempt to engage her in conversation. Eventually she will need her hand to pour a drink or answer a mobile phone and you will be released.
On being invited to get totally ratted in a drinking competition.
At this point in this relationship, it is wise for a gentleman to decide how much he likes his new friend. If he considers that she might be what is known in some circles as "a result", he should politely decline the invitation or pretend to drink more than in fact he does. Amused by most things, modern girls can become quite affronted when getting ratted earlier in the evening has a negative romantic effect later.
On being unable to understand a word that a modern girl is saying.
There comes a time during a date - surprisingly early sometimes - when conversation becomes noise and no communication is possible beyond a monosyllabic expression of urgent personal needs. Yet quite often the modern girl will keep talking. The correct form is for a gentleman to interpolate occasional words - "Right", "Sweet", "You're joking", "How great is that?" - to prove he is still awake.
On being invited to try it on with her mate Sally who's up for anything, frankly.
It is a paradox of 21st-century romantic life that a modern girl who is up for anything is rather less good company than a gentleman might anticipate. He is usually best advised to make a derogatory comment about Sally, possibly even including the word "bargepole", on the basis that no modern girl wants her friends to be more attractive than her. The term "minger" should, on the other hand be avoided at all costs.
On witnessing a fight on the dance-floor between two modern girls.
On the whole a modern girl likes to be in charge during a night out, requiring her date merely to be polite, look decorative, buy her drinks and come home with her. Only now and then will he need to stir himself. Separating two girls who are tearing each other's hair out on the dance-floor is one such occasion.
On a taxi driver being asked "Wot chew lkin at tossa?" when he is about to drive you both from the club.
It is essential at all times to side with your modern girl, particularly where taxi drivers are involved.
On a modern girl falling fast asleep on her kitchen floor when you get back to her place.
A surprising number of romantic evenings end in this way and the gentleman should take a mature and philosophical attitude to them. The correct etiquette is to put her on to her bed, removing her shoes but nothing else, and then leave a polite note of thanks on her beside table. If leaving a telephone number, it may be wise to get it slightly wrong.
Miles Kington is awayReuse content