Posts Tagged 'Britain'



Pearls Before Swine: Shaking Hands and Swine Flu

A question etiquette consultants have been asked over the last few months is ‘do I shake hands with someone for fear of catching swine flu?’ A lot of people are becoming worried – perhaps paranoid – that if they shake someone’s hand at the moment the chances of catching the H1-N1 virus increases. The same applies for social kissing.

The English Manner’s John Robertson says, “Go ahead and shake their hands. You’re going to pick up more germs anyway as soon as you touch the next door knob and you should just continue to wash your hands frequently and carry a little squeeze bottle of hand sanitiser if you’re really worried”.

A good sanitising product readily available in the UK is ‘Flu Pak’, which can be bought at all good pharmacies and drug-shops, as well as online.

It is rude to refuse someone’s hand when proffered and this should be remembered at all times. On a medical note, swine flu is no different to normal influenza. Whilst it is harmful to pregnant mothers, the very young and the elderly, to everyone else, it is just the same as having common or garden flu. As with many recent diseases (I’m thinking bird flu) the media have been as helpful as ever in stirring up public paranoia with this disease.

Of course, if you have the disease then you should be in bed and not shaking hands with anyone, so it is a fair assumption to assume that people who have swine flu will not be proffering their hands to anyone.

John Robertson continues, “Shaking hands doesn’t give you the virus, it doesn’t pass through your skin. The infection is passed when you put your hands near your mouth or nose or your eyes. So wash your hands often and keep them away from your face; good advice at any time”.

It would seem the best antidote to swine flu is common sense.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

A Basic Shooting Glossary

Whilst I can’t claim this to be comprehensive in any way, it should give a shooting novice some idea of the terms used. It is good form to know the terminology if you are going on a shoot, as novices will be easily spotted if they fail to understand the phrases and words used.

All Out! – What beaters call at the end of a drive

Bag – Game killed that day

Beaters/Drivers – They flush out the game by ‘beating’ the ground

Couple – Wild ducks are counted by the couple

Covert – A wood (silent ‘t’)

Covey – A group of grouse or partridge

Drive – Each sweep taken up during a day’s shooting

Gun – This doesn’t just refer to the actual firearm but the person shooting it, as well

Hill – A Scottish moor

Loaders – They load guns

Peg/Stand – Where the guns are located (although for grouse shoots it is called the ‘butt’ and for duck shoots the ‘hide’)

Wisp – A group of snipe

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Sticking to Your Guns: Shooting Etiquette Faux Pas

shootingOctober sees the pheasant, woodcock and capercaillie shooting season begin and so listed below are The English Manner’s top etiquette blunders to avoid at all cost when out in the fields.

-       Never attend a shoot if you have never held a gun or had adequate training. Being dangerous is considered frightfully rude

-       Pick up all spent cartridges at the end of drives. This used not to matter but now in the environmentally-friendly society we live in, it is considered bad form not to

-       Make sure you mark your quarry for pickers-up and their dogs: never leave a dead bird to rot

-       Always ask what one is allowed to shoot before commencing. Hosts will have different rules from each drive to the next

-       The polite guns never boast about their scores

-       In the unfortunate circumstance that one shoots something that one is not supposed to, or that you cause a fellow gun an injury, it is expect that you leave the party immediately. Other guns are expected to be discreet about the incident, too. NB: If a major accident occurs, unwritten rules of etiquette dictate that the guilty gun never shoots again

-       Restrain yourself: a shoot is not the place for loud, bawdy behaviour

-       Under no circumstances should one shoot a white pheasant

-       Never swing your gun along the shooting line or in the direction of other guns

-       Make sure each bird shot is dead before proceeding onto the next one. It is better to use both barrels on one bird than two barrels on two birds (with the first barrel not yet fully killed).

-       Do also remember to tip the keeper. Anything from £15 upwards is usual; more if he has cleaned your gun.

Unsure about the terminology used in this blog? Next week: a beginner’s guide to shooting terms.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

The Modern Student

A teacher at my old school once remarked to me in a conversation about higher education, “University is a reward for the intellectual, where one can do as one pleases and do very little work for a period of three years”. However true or false this may be, it seems that many contemporary students have misinterpreted this concept. It is certainly not a rest or lapse period for decency and basic courtesy.

Student life is something that most of us have looked forward to from our early teens: we break away from our parents and begin to become our own person. We become domesticated, we become mature; we become adults. Alas, it isn’t quite as straight forward as that. The average student dresses in baggy, comfortable clothes, goes out drinking at least five times a week, and probably comes close to (or actually partakes) in dealing in substances of disrepute. We are only young once, however, so perhaps such behaviour is acceptable.

Yet, just because we are students, it doesn’t mean to say that we actually have to behave like them. Nevertheless, this is not a call for us to attend lectures in morning suits and address our peers with high reverence and grandiose language. A modern, savvy student is someone who respects and considers those around him. Many adults get cross with students and their lifestyle – perhaps they are jealous – they argue that they are slovenly and uncouth. Maybe they are right: there are times when one really doesn’t want to be formal or worry too much about what others think.

However, I argue that University is a journey, a bridge. It marks a transition between childhood and adulthood. There used to be no word for the inter-regnum, until someone created the concept of a ‘student’. A majority of students subconsciously believe that we become adults the moment we graduate, and this grants us with an excuse to behave as we wish for the three or four years in between. This is not the case. We become adults during the period of our enrolment. Some will grasp the (really quite straight forward) concepts of adulthood sooner than others.

As I say regularly, good manners are a skill for life, which will stand anyone in much better stead than any degree or qualification. Clarence Thomas said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot”. Think what you could do with both.

NB: Educated people go to ‘University’. The rest go to ‘Uni’.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Clapped Out: Concert Manners

6a00d83451c83e69e200e54f2a78db8833-800wiGood manners are not a thing of the past and apply to all aspects of modern life, including concerts. We’ve all been at one where the person behind you starts explaining loudly what’s going on to their friend, or continually rustles their programme. Here are some important tips to remember to ensure you behave correctly and respect other concertgoers.

In the Auditorium

If other audience members arrive to take their seat, which is beyond yours, the polite thing for gentlemen to do is stand up to let them have a clearer passage. Women should turn their legs in the direction the person is travelling. People sitting at the end of aisles should get out and stand in the aisle until passage is clear.

Coughs, sneezes and sniffles should be ‘caught’: make sure your wardrobe on the evening includes a handkerchief. If the ailment persists, leave the auditorium until it subsides.

Share your programme (American’s call it ‘Playbill’) with others if they ask. There’s no need to be possessive.

During operas, it is usual to applause after the overture, an impressive aria, the end of a scene or act, but never whilst someone is singing. At concerts, it is expected for you to clap between different compositions but never between movements. ‘Whooping’ is never correct. We’re at Mozart not McFly.

At the End of the Evening

Do not leave during the encore or whilst the orchestra is bowing. Wait until the house lights have been taken up before you move.

At the end of the concert or during the interval, save your elaborate critique until you’re behind you own closed doors. Don’t try to impress others by shouting loudly about technical aspects of the music or performance.  Others may have enjoyed the night even if you didn’t; there’s also a chance one of the ‘star’s’ family or friends could be around you.


William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Cowes Week

Hyacinth: Not incorrect but perhaps not that subtle

Hyacinth: Not incorrect but perhaps not that subtle

Cowes Week is the oldest regular regatta in the world. Unlike Henley, which began in 1839, Cowes was first held in 1826. It began following the Prince Regent’s (who became George IV) interesting in yachting. The first race at Cowes was held at 0930 on 10th August. It is now the tradition that Cowes Week takes place on the Solent from the first Saturday after the last Tuesday in July, until the following Saturday.

As well as the boating element, Cowes is much loved for its social cachet. Parties and live music have become as much of a part of the week as the yachts. On the Friday, a firework display is held, with the pyrotechnics being launched from barges around the waterfront. This tradition dates back more than 150 years. People attending Cowes should be aware that this particular tradition may not happen at this year’s event due to lack of funding.

Now, what to wear? Alexandra Messervy, Founder of The English Manner, gives us the following advice: ‘Stick to looking the part in deck shoes, sunglasses, windproof gear and a chance to wear that perfect Hermes headscarf (or a good imitation from tie Rack!) – and there are plenty of wonderful wellies around if the weather is wet’.

Also – for gentlemen that wish to wear blazers please don’t have an emblem on the top-pocket. Very Non-U.

Do also remember that if you get the chance to go on board one of the yachts, it is required that you do not board until given permission. Once on deck, soft-soled shoes or no shoes at all.

The English Manner are always happy to answer any specific comments about any aspect of protocol. Please see our website for contact details, or just comment on this blog post.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Not Just About Napkins: The English Manner’s Garden Tours

One of the highlights of The English Manner ‘learning with a difference’ programmes are our highly sought after and exclusive Garden Tours.  Groups of guests (usually around 2 to 18 people) are whisked around the countryside – usually England, Scotland and Wales, but occasionally France and Ireland – visiting private gardens and houses of note, accompanied by a wealth of experts and owners.

Coffinpictures06 341Like everything we at The English Manner provide, every aspect of our tours are organised down to the last detail.  From the moment guests leave their own house to the moment they return, we look after them memorably.  Accommodation is in the finest private houses or country house hotels, food and wine is a highlight of the day, and because groups are small, master classes are much more meaningful.  Each programme is bespoke and takes into account the background knowledge and specific interests of the guests, their agility and desire for little or much activity, and we offer a wide range of visits to demonstrate the versatility of gardens, architecture and design.  Masterclasses may be led by Royal Gardens Advisor Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Penelope Hobhouse, Tim Penrose or Mary-Ann Robb, and tickets are usually available for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or Hampton Court Palace.

This year’s main tour was centred around the Cotswolds, with the theme of the English country house style gardens of Nancy Lancaster and NorahYarlingtongallery1 Lindsay, and our guests from Virginia were enchanted by Cottesbrooke Hall, private gardens in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire including Rockcliffe and Quenington, and a private tour of the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, with Barbara Pollard.  A visit to the final home of Nancy Lancaster before a day at Chelsea helped add the icing to the cake after a tour of the garden of a well known VIP which is completely inaccessible to the general public.  These visits, accompanied by local produce in award winning luxury country house surroundings, made for a truly outstanding tour, and we are already planning some exciting ideas for 2010.

Come and join us!  Novices welcome, no need to own a Palace, just enjoy the landscape and all that our gardens and talented gardeners can offer will be yours.

Making accessible the inaccessible………

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner


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