Posts Tagged 'british'



A Sample Thank-You Letter

Many people struggle when it comes to putting pen to paper with what exactly to say in a thank-you letter. Below is an example letter to give those with writer’s block some inspiration. It is by no means the most perfect thank-you letter, but it is certainly a more than acceptable one. As I said last week, these letters do not have to be make literary history – remember that a rather basic letter is better than no letter at all.

Dear Samantha,

We are, once again, in awe of your culinary skills. Thank you so much for a delicious dinner last night. It was such a wonderful evening and David and I had so much fun.

It was such a surprise to see your brother after so long – the last time we saw him must have been at your wedding; we enjoyed hearing what he had been up to over the past few years. He sounds like he has been very busy.

Once again, our most sincere thanks. You must also give me the recipe for that trifle – David has not stopped going on about how much he enjoyed it.

We look forward to seeing you all next week at Simon’s.

With every best wish,

Julie.

As I also said last week, once a formula is learned that writing such letters will become much easier.

One final word on thank-you letters – always sent by first-class post, or delivered by hand.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Compliments: Harder Than They May Seem

The British are notoriously bad at accepting compliments the correct way. Whilst it can be seen as an endearing quality, we Brits often use self-deprecation when it comes to receiving compliments. When someone admires our work we’ll say, “Oh well, it was nothing, no trouble at all” or perhaps expresses a like of our clothes, “This old thing? No, I worn this many times before”. But correct form says that when on the receiving end of a compliment, we should just accept it with a gracious, ‘thank you’ and move on. There’s no need to waffle on and argue with the complimenter: that wastes time. Just say thank you and make a note to return the compliment to them in the near future: complimenting them back straight after looks silly.

Then there’s the art of men complimenting women. More often than not, men will sound like a bit of a leach when doing this. The important thing to remember is maintain eye-contact with the woman when giving the compliment. Don’t go for the obvious compliments, such as ‘Nice shoes’ or ‘Nice colour’, show your softer side with, ‘that’s a nice neckline on the dress’.

But there’s also etiquette when it comes to replying to compliments, don’t ever say ‘Well, thank you, yes I love this top too, it’s good, isn’t it?’. We should never actually brag following a compliment, even though we may wish to inside.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Step in Line! The Etiquette of Queuing

Napoleon said we were a nation of shopkeepers, but I think he should have said we were a nation of queuers. Everywhere is a queue: in the shops, on the roads, abroad, on the telephone. And at the moment with the January sales, a lot of us may be waiting outside our favourite shops hoping to get a good deal on something we’ve had our eyes on for sometime. But, as with every aspect of life, there is a protocol that should be followed.

1) If you are with several people, enter the queue as one group. Don’t take it turns to reserve a place for your entire party. Think how annoying it must be to think, after a ling time waiting, you finally reach the front except for the one man in front of you and suddenly, out of nowhere, his five relatives join him, making your wait even longer. This is especially prevalent at theme parks.

2) Keep children under control. No free-range children, please. I saw an example of this the other day at a supermarket. Two mothers were gossiping away as they waited to have their purchases seen to by the cashier; their two ‘adorable’ children frolicked around the legs of other shoppers and nearly knocked an elderly gentleman over at one point: the mothers did (thankfully) apologise to the man but didn’t bother to control their children.

3) Be patient – everyone in the queue is the same position. I did once have a man get cross at me for the length of time he had been waiting, but it was nothing to do with me: I was standing behind him, anyway. Equally, if there has been a long queue, when you get to the desired point, try to be as brief as possible to ensure that others behind are not kept waiting.

4) Before you enter a queue (if it’s a lengthy one) make sure you’ve gone to the loo so you don’t need to disturb the rest of the line trying to get out. As silly as this may sound it does happen. If you leave the queue you cannot expect to come back two minutes later as fresh as a daisy and take up your old place. Others will not be happy about this.

5) Respect the personal space of others. There is no need to stand body-to-body in the queue, doing so will only irritate people and may heighten an already fractious situation. Also, if you are a smoker, now is not the time to light up – save that until you are well away from the queue.

6) Probably the most frustrating of all queuing faux pas is queue jumping. Quite simply: don’t! On my one and only visit to a nightclub I happened to be in a queue to get to the outdoors part of the club (no silly music out there!) and someone tried to push in. I think under normal circumstance they would have got away with this as everyone else would have been too drunk, doped and disorderly to notice or comment. Sadly for this one poor boy, I was totally sober and swiftly admonished him and sent him on his way to the back of the queue. That was the only positive I can draw from my nocturnal experience.

The British love a good queue but there are still who break the rules mentioned above. It is interesting to note than in America, a ‘queue’ is practically unheard of: they call it ‘standing in line’. I was once told – and I’m not sure how true this is – that ‘queue’ is not in all American dictionaries. That said, the rules still apply wherever you are!

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

The Year of the Blog: Reflections on 2009’s Musings

Happy New Year to everyone!

February 2009 saw the very first blog entry for The English Manner eleven months and 37 posts later, it is clear to me what a range of subjects we have been able to cover. From the very first post, which commented on suitable business attire in the modern day, to one of our latest entries about respecting age, I think you will agree that etiquette does apply to all aspects of life.

The blog has now had a slight lick of paint to give it a fresher feel; I hope you like it (if you can notice any difference at all!)

My personal favourite of all of the blog entries has to be the one from the 23rd November on Pre and Post Lactarians. I do realise that I have written a majority of the blog so it sounds almost immodest to pick one of my own piece, but what I like about this particular one is the grandiose terminology that Professor Alan S. C. Ross invented (or cited) in one of his books on the subject of sociolinguistics. It’s so pompous it just has to be tongue in cheek, I am sure.

Each year, May sees the start of the British sporting and cultural season. Last year we commented on the major events of said period, such as Royal Ascot, Wimbledon and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. More posts on these events are inevitable, as they never fail to flag up questions of protocol and social customs. Incidentally, if any of our readers have any queries we are always willing to answer them. Please see our main website for details of how to pose your question.

The problem with writing a weekly blog (give or take a week here and there off) is that it becomes slightly difficult when the yearly cycle of events begins again. Does one post the same musings on the Royal Epsom Derby again? Should one try to cover new ground about the same event? The trouble with that is, eventually one will run out of things to say as it will have all been said. As to how we at The English Manner will be getting round this minor dilemma, you’ll have to wait and see.

What is to come in 2010, I hear thousands of you all ask? We aim to provide an insight into events such as the Oxford & Cambridge boat race, Glastonbury, and the State Opening of Parliament, as well as commenting on the etiquette that is associated with wine, flags and behaviour when abroad. Naturally, blogs are reactive and as such anything that crops up in the news that regards etiquette will probably get a look in on our blog, too.

But we want your ideas and suggestions for postings, too. If you have a subject you’d like further investigating or a couple of questions about the same topic, please feel more than free to send them to us. Equally, if you read one of the posts and disagree, are confused, or concur with what we’ve said… comment! We love reading what you’re saying – a lot of the time they can be insightful and sometimes amusing.

Here’s to an interactive 2010.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Crumbs! Brits’ Entertaining Skills are Dunkin’ Disorderly

Once it was an integral part of the British psyche, but new research reveals that Britain’s once famed hospitality has taken a nose-dive in recent years, with the younger generation in particular failing to observe basic etiquette when it comes to entertaining.

Fox’s biscuits – who carried out the study – have identified the following manners as missing in tea time action:

1)    Turning off the TV: Almost half of Brits (45%) don’t bother to turn off the TV when visitors arrive, and the younger the host, the less likely they are to do so. Only a third of 25-34 year olds (33%) switch off their favourite shows, compared to the majority of the over 55s

2)    Twitter chatter: Four out of five under 25s (78%) tweet at the table, or carry on surfing the net from their phones or PCs when their friends come round to visit

3)    Taking the coats: the tradition of taking guests’ coats and putting them on the bed or stashing them out of sight is dying out. While more than 80% of the over 55s take their guests’ coats on arrival, this drops to just over 50% of the under 35s, who prefer to leave their visitors to sweat it out on the sofa.

4)    Tea time treats: Whilst most of us manage to rustle up a mug of tea or coffee, tummies in Britain’s homes are frequently left rumbling, with almost half of Brits failing to offer their guests so much as a biscuit, despite this being identified as one of the best ways to make visitors feel at home

5)    Bring out the best china: Only 8% of under 35s bring out the best china, compared to a third of the over 65s (31%)

Instead, in true Hyacinth Bucket style, Brits today are more interested in keeping up appearances than being polite, with houseproud hosts focusing most of their time and energy on making their homes (84%) or themselves (71%) look good in advance of a visit, rather than making their guests feel welcome.

The research also identified the top tea-time crimes that an inhospitable host can commit. These are:

  1. Having a row with your partner in front of your guests (70%)
  2. Making your guests feel like they’re in the way (69%)
  3. Continuing to read or watch TV once your guests have arrived (60%)
  4. Letting your kids run riot or behave badly (53%)
  5. Nodding off while guests are still there (52%)
  6. Not offering your guest something to drink (37%)
  7. Having badly behaved pets (29%)
  8. Giving guests something horrible to eat or drink (26%)

Guests beware however, as there a few things you shouldn’t do if you want to be invited back, and the most annoying are:

  1. Running your fingers over surfaces to check for dust (64%)
  2. Criticising your host’s house in any way (58%)
  3. Leaving without saying thanks (54%)
  4. Making a mess (38%)
  5. Being fussy or difficult about the food or drink on offer (33%)
  6. Turning up late or early (27%)
  7. Asking your host to remove pets from the room (25%)
  8. If they insist on trying to help with cooking or clearing (15%)

Rachel Moffatt, Brands Sector Director for Fox’s, says: “We were disappointed to discover that tea time etiquette seems to be dying out amongst younger generations. Our survey respondents were unanimous that attentiveness and great conversation are the key to good entertaining, yet so many young adults fail to give guests their undivided attention when they drop by, despite this being one of our biggest gripes when we’re on the receiving end.

As for not feeding guests, for a nation that’s practically been built on tea and biscuits, it surprised us to learn that giving guests something to snack on, however small, isn’t always on the menu. We hope this is one tradition that doesn’t die out completely.”

International manners and etiquette consultant William Hanson [tutor at The English Manner], says “Manners and etiquette have always been at the core of what makes us proud to be British. Offering a biscuit with a cup of tea, turning off the TV when your guests arrive, and taking someone’s coat on arrival are all basic British manners. It is truly a sad day when these everyday etiquette essentials are ignored, and guests are left feeling unwanted and neglected.”

Re-printed from the press release with kind permission from Clarion Communications.

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

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is the third major event of the summer season after Royal Ascot and Wimbledon.  First staged in 1839, The Henley Royal Regatta takes place over the first weekend in July (from Wednesday to Sunday) in the town of Henley-on-Thames.

Whilst people often know quite a bit about racing and tennis, less is known about rowing and guests often visit Henley with little knowledge, and come away with not much more!  A rarity in boating events, the regatta pre-dates any international or national controlling body and as such has its own rules and organisation, although both the Amateur Rowing Association and the International Federation of Rowing Associations recognise the event. Stewards who are mostly former rowers themselves control the races.

The river view at Henley

The river view at Henley

The regatta can be viewed from several locations along both banks of the river Thames, although viewing areas for the general public are largely on the Berkshire side of the river. The Buckinghamshire side is limited to private clubs and residences as well as the odd bit of corporate entertainment and entry is not too expensive.  Young people have a fantastic time, and there are many opportunities for picnics with a really fun day out. The course is one mile and 550 yards long and there are 16 events over the programme.  It is relatively easy to attend via the Regatta Enclosure, but membership of the Stewards Enclosure is limited to 6000 and there is a very long waiting list of people wishing to join, who must be proposed by existing members, rather like entry to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.  There is a one-off membership fee and an annual subscription.  Members of the Royal Family do not often attend, although HRH Prince Michael of Kent can sometimes be spotted!

The event takes place during the first part of summer so the weather can be mixed. Henley is the right place to wear blazers, or cocktail dresses (and possibly a hat) for the ladies, although keen rowing fanatics may wish to get on board one of the Umpires launches and so something a little sturdier may be needed.  Ladies must wear a dress which covers their knees and are not allowed trousers or culottes.  Men must wear lounge suits or blazers with flannels and a tie or cravat, and if sporting a boater, these must be genuinely acquired  from a school rowing team or a rowing club.  Designer blazers are frowned upon, plain navy is best!  The most distinctive dress at Henley will be a cerise pink cap and tie:  this is the dress of the Leander Club, an almost exclusive body comprising those who have rendered special service to rowing.

A popular event in the corporate entertainment calendar, Henley is very male, very English and very charming.

The English Manner (www.theenglishmanner.com) are always happy to advise event-goers on dress or protocol. Please feel free to contact us for advice.

William Hanson & Alexandra Messervy
The English Manner



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