Letter: It is manners that maketh the meal

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The Independent Online
Sir: Several correspondents have recently written to you, extolling the middle-class concept of the family meal as a social occasion, with sparkling conversation. I have difficulty with this idea, having been brought up in the old-fashioned working class tradition whereby talking at the dinner table was held to be 'bad manners'. The food was on the table by dint of hard work, and deserved to be treated with respect, rather than as a backdrop for idle chatter. This upbringing is so ingrained that, even now, 40 years on, when faced with a talkative fellow diner, I feel a powerful urge to say what my parents would have said: 'Shut up and eat your dinner'.

Yours sincerely,

JOHN SMURTHWAITE

Leeds

4 August

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