Debate: As Debrett's gives the go-ahead to eating with your fingers, are table manners no longer relevant?

Share
Related Topics

 

What's going on?

Debrett's has been been the go-to guide for etiquette since the first guide was published in the mid-1900s. But standards might be slipping. Today it was reported Debrett's has given the go-ahead to eating with one's fingers; traditionally a sign of ill-breeding. The manners' masters said that silverware can now be thrown aside and hands used instead - since table manners isn't just about sticking to an "outdated" code of conduct.

So should we all tuck-in gleefully, or is it important to know your napkins from your knees?

Case against: socially crucial

In the modern home, slobbiness rules. Pizzas on laps, puddings for breakfast - nothing seems beyond the pale. This is turning out a generation of young people who are, quite simply, death to any dignified occasion. And this is more than an aesthetic problem. There will come a time in their lives when decorum is important - on a date, with a boss, in the Fat Duck - and then the slurping will come back to haunt them.

Case For: who cares?

There is a good rule of thumb when it comes to deciding whether etiquette advice is still relevant: who cares? The ultimate aim of good manners, after all, must surely be to put others at their ease; to be considerate, in other words. When the etiquette tradition in question becomes completely divorced from that original purpose, the sensible thing is clearly to discard it. If you let your elbows rest on the table at a modern dinner party, your host is unlikely to be horrified. The truth is, they probably wouldn't even notice.

 

Have your say in the comments below.

React Now

Table manners are no longer relevant in modern life

Read Next
The Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf heads the inquiry  

Why should Fiona Woolf be expected to remember every dinner date?

Mark Steel
Several police officers walk near downtown Ottawa  

Nigel Farage on the Ottawa shooting: It could just as easily happen on the streets of London

Nigel Farage
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?