Monday, 27 July 2015

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 24 July

Are we entitled to be offended when a friend withdraws an invitation at the last minute? Thomas Blaikie explains

Written by Thomas Blaikie
Dear Thomas,
Am I right to be offended by a friend who suddenly cancels her invitation? There are lots of instances: the worst was getting an invitation to a party and being asked to spend the night, but nearer the date I was told I could not stay because her daughter and son-in-law had asked to stay and I was told there is a Travelodge at the end of the road. Had she explained that there was a problem as family were expecting the spare room, I would have given way, but I was not given the chance.

A wedding invitation was withdrawn after I had bought a dress! Am I right to be annoyed?
Margaret Hale, Dover

Dear Margaret,
You’ll be accustomed to the idea that with modern manners there are only rarely any clear answers but here at least we have the comfort of knowing exactly where to draw the line. Disinviting is only ever justified if: you have done something unspeakable like tried to burn down the hosts’ home, tried to kill them or their pets, made outrageous sexual advances, in the case of a wedding, to the bride or groom or both, or are actually under arrest. Of course the entire event might be cancelled. That’s another matter.

Here we are talking about disinviting certain individuals. The event still takes place. I have some friends who are always disinviting me. I can’t remember why exactly – maybe a row about politics. But I never take any notice and go all the same, by which time they’ve usually reinvited me anyway. I do feel very strongly that an invitation is an invitation. You just can’t disinvite people – ever, in any circumstances. It isn’t just that the disinvited will have made plans, will be left with a blank space in their diary, spent money, etc. I may sound mildly unhinged, but our social fabric has to have something to secure it. If an invitation can’t be utterly relied on, then what is there?

I hear that Kim Kardashian (do you know who I mean?) disinvited 50 people from her previous wedding to Kris Humphries in 2011. Not enough room, apparently. Well, too bad; they should have all crammed in, however famous they were. Your friend, Margaret, just sounds what is called ‘flaky’. She hasn’t got a clue. Next time you get disinvited say, ‘No, it’s too late. You invited me and I’m coming.’ As for the business of the Travelodge, you’re being very forbearing about it. I don’t see why the daughter and son-in-law couldn’t have gone there. It sounds like a case of ‘family hold back’; ie, go to the Travelodge.

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


July, Booth Theater, Broadway, New York: 19-year-old Nick Silvestri jumps from the audience onto the stage five minutes before the show Hand To God is about to begin. Why is this world news? Well, his phone was low on power (‘Girls had been calling all day’). Of course he needed to charge it up. What a miracle that there was a power socket right there in front of him on the stage. All he had to do was leap up and plug in, the only drawback being that, since it was a stage set, the socket wasn’t real. Also, everybody knows that the stage is for actors only, no-go for the audience. The show was about to begin so what did he want his phone for anyway? And, generally, what a frightful idiot!

10 July: Robin Lee, aged 45, an artist, is arrested on an Overground train between Hackney Wick and Camden Road for ‘abstracting electricity’: ie, he was recharging his phone via a socket clearly marked ‘Cleaners’ use only and not for public use’. I do sympathise.

Of course, one ceases to exist if one’s phone is dead, but really…

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