Debate: Does etiquette matter any more?

Share

 

We could learn a lot from Hyacinth Bucket

By William Hanson, author of The Bluffer's Guide to Etiquette @williamhanson

There seems to be a contagion of common that has swept the nation.  Deference is dead and self-respect is on life-support.  Anything that parvenus would think of as ‘posh’ is seemingly un-cool and to be positively avoided. The trend started by insecure restaurant owners of calling pudding ‘dessert’ has sadly now gripped pretty much everyone: including those who should know better. (Dessert is the fruit course, pudding is the pudding.) We also have people swarthily swigging beer from the bottle – the last time I drank from a bottle, I was eighteen months old: I have since managed to cope with a glass. 

What many would call ‘social climbing’ is seen as negative - and when done badly (let’s mention no Pippas), it can be pretty excruciating to watch. But social climbing should not be mistaken for, in my opinion, the desire to better yourself. After seeing my parents watch an episode of Keeping Up Appearances (I was five at the time) I became transfixed on the programme’s lead, Hyacinth Bucket. That perhaps explains a lot, I grant you, but although Mrs B was very try-hard, she did try. This must not be forgotten. She too came from a socially less fortunate background but with every moment of every waking breath she campaigned to improve her family’s prospects.  She was very self-aware and strived to carry herself with poise, gravitas and dignity.

Basic social skills and politesse are not taught in schools anymore - they are too focused on barraging pupils with exams. The parents and families don’t have the time or inclination to bother, either. If only people bothered to learn what the done thing was, they’d soon see that the rules and guidelines are there not just to annoy them, but to make their lives easier.  They should become second nature.  It’s not just about keeping up appearances. 

Etiquette should be flushed down the toilet (with the door open)

By Felicity Morse, Social Media Editor at the Independent @FelicityMorse

I have the social etiquette of a pig. A well-meaning one, but distinctly porcine all the same. I smoke, I slurp, I shovel my lunch and my laugh is a shrill cackle that would make the Wicked Witch of the West wince.

Prattle all you want about being posh but it’s got nothing to do with etiquette. I went to Cheltenham Ladies College (ooh err) and we were farting, chomping, swearing monsters. We used to grow out our leg hair and compare it reverently like it twas a sage’s beard. One day I was watching TV next to my friend Pippa (sorry, not of the Middletons) and I felt her phone vibrate through the sofa. As she burst into impish giggles I realised this was not the case. She had in fact done a resounding fart so vigorous it had reverberated through the whole couch.

Yet despite all this there are still some residual breaches of etiquette that not even CLC girls would put up with. Boarders were dismayed at how I referred to the loo as a 'toilet'. One girl said the very word 'made her sick'. Apparently confusing dinner and supper was not the done thing either.

I grew up in a house where the toilet doors are left open (shutting it makes it much harder to continue your conversation) and swearing, while originally banned, became increasingly necessary as we all turned into little terrors. It doesn’t bother me, although I do feel sorry for whoever sits next to me at work. I’m too loud. But who would you rather go for drinks with: Sir Toby Belch or Malvolio? I rest my case.

Which do you agree with? Leave your comments below.
 

Click here for The Etiquette Quiz

 

Etiquette does not matter any more

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup