Friday, 08 September 2017

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 8 September

Some guests need a nudge when it comes to showing appreciation, says Thomas Blaikie

Dear Thomas
Can you please tell me what to feel and how to react? We recently held a luncheon and invited several neighbours. We paid (a lot) for an outside caterer, and the food and drink were superb (no ‘bring a bottle’). It’s now more than a week later, and we’ve had no thanks from any of the guests. How should I feel? After all, thanks don’t cost anything. The only excuse would be if they are desperately unwell or dead, and none of them is either.
Wounded Jane Welbeck, Pulborough

Dear Jane
How extraordinary! But I am afraid quite a few of us will have experienced hostility or resentful neglect at some point as a reward for giving an entertainment. As you say, you are wounded – and hosts are easily wounded.

What can explain this awful collective ingratitude? Sometimes the more lavish the entertainment, and the more costly, the more widespread the failure to thank. I’ve noticed that people don’t thank for big drinks parties or even weddings. At a huge gathering, perhaps the hosts seem somehow remote, as if not really there, and therefore are not thanked. Or guests are so overwhelmed by the elaborate event, they feel any attempt to express appreciation will fail dismally to rise to the occasion.

However, your luncheon does not sound like a huge affair. Maybe your guests feel they are on such intimate terms with you that thanks are unnecessary. Or they’re just seething with jealousy over your outside caterers.

Most likely, it’s just one of those things. They all loved your lunch, but it’s simply that none has got around to saying so.

Whatever the explanation, something must be done. You can’t be left in this unhappy state. But how to generate a response without seeming needy and nagging? After all, you can’t demand thanks. It’s crucial to be casual… and patient. Surely soon you’ll bump into one of your luncheon guests by chance. ‘You know my lunch the other day,’ you could say. ‘Well, those caterers… they started attacking each other with rolling pins in my kitchen after you’d all left… one of the juniors accused the head cook of using bought puff pastry. But I didn’t have any sense of bought puff pastry… did you?’ See where that gets you.

Otherwise, perhaps you have a confidante to whom you could confide your disappointment. That person could then put it about among your guests that you are deeply troubled by the possibility that the caterers used bought puff pastry and hope that none of the guests noticed. Sit back and watch the praise come flooding in. Or you or your friend could tell the errant guests how many thank-yous you have to catch up on yourself, which you must do, because they are so much appreciated.

Please send your questions to or write to him at The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER

WHAT TO DO ABOUT...The modern gentleman 

A new survey reveals that the modern gentleman holds the door open for others, listens, puts his mobile phone away, is clean, punctual, tidy, lends his jacket to his partner on a cold night, admits when he is wrong, polishes his shoes, does sport, greets guests at the door, tells the truth, doesn’t gossip, wears a watch, has never taken a selfie and is ‘generous in the bedroom’. Well, it’s a long list of virtues, such as are rarely found in one person. But the most striking discovery is that the modern gentleman wears a suit. The survey was commissioned by Moss Bros, you see, and 58 per cent of respondents thought that the modern gentleman should wear a suit – on which he’s spent £600, no less. Even on a date, he’s more attractive in a suit. What does this mean? Men these days wear suits only for court appearances, weddings and, possibly, work. At the first opportunity they take them off and don ‘leisurewear’. I’ve never heard of a man on a date in a suit. He’d be a freak, wouldn’t he? Perhaps not. Plainly, it’s time for a rethink and a visit to Moss Bros.

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