Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Holiday Co-Ed, Youth Classes in Etiquette, Manners and Social Skills, at the Graber Olive House.

Ashley learns how to twirl her spaghetti

The RSVP Institute is pleased to now offer special holiday co-ed,  youth classes in etiquette, manners and social skills, at the Graber Olive House.  The special course of 3, two-hour classes will be held the week after Christmas, on December 27th, 28th & 29th.  The $65.00 per student fee covers all foods & handouts. The mixed age classes (ages 5 and up to teen) 
are from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. 

The 3 classes will focus on:
  • The keys to making your parents smile.
  • Basic Social Graces, Posture and Image
  • Dining Skills & Table Manners (with foods to practice the dining skills taught)
  • Respect for Others
  • Deflecting Peer Pressure Gracefully
  • Phone, Text Manners & Web @ttitude© & Other E-Manners
  • Manners for Home and Abroad
  • Gero-dynamics©, “Thank you" notes & RSVPs
  • “Yes please”, “Thank you”, “Excuse Me”, & other verbal cues that open doors, build friendships, make parents & teachers smile!
Register by Dec. 26th to secure your son’s or daughter’s enrollment!
Open to ages 5 to 17. We will be offering a “teen specific” class starting on Sundays in January. Call 909 923-5650 or email for more information:
Please Print Information Below 

Checks can be mailed to: RSVP, 301 East Fourth Street, Ontario 91764    
Student’s Name___________________________Age______Grade__
Email ________________Emergency Contact__________________
Food Allergies or Restrictions___________________
Please Circle Method of Payment: check cash  card Visa/MC/AX
Paypal now accepted! Email for Paypal instructions!
Signature of Cardholder:________________________
Card Number:_________________________  Exp. Date:_______

Monday, December 19, 2011

The British Press vs Downton Abbey and Two Etiquette Sleuths; Historians or Hysterians?

As a fan of the first season of the critically acclaimed and popular Downton Abbey, I shared my DVD copy with fellow etiquette enthusiast, guest blogger and consultant, Demita Usher. She enjoyed it as thoroughly as I, and we have been waiting for the second season of the show to be broadcast in the U.S. As fans of the show, we have a few words for those making criticism in the British press.

Imagine our surprise upon seeing the following headline in The Daily Telegraph; Downton Abbey: historical inaccuracies and mistakes plaguing ITV show or this one in the U.K. Daily Mail; Downton shoots itself in the foot as gun enthusiast gives both barrels over historical inaccuracies

Historians, (or could they possibly be hysterians?), make numerous assertions regarding the historical accuracy of the series. One article quotes "historian and broadcaster, A.N. Wilson", as saying, "... the portrayal of country house life was sanitised fantasy."  Whereas Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning creator of Downton Abbey, strongly defended the show's script by saying that he believes the "the programme is pretty accurate". Adding, "The real problem is with people who are insecure socially, and they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the programme to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge."  Indeed!

Now, we are not trying to be posh, nor do we want to show "how smart we are", we simply would like to defend Julian Fellowes, by providing a bit of historical perspective. As for those who are offering their comments and criticisms to the press regarding the authenticity of the clothing for a local hunt, the road sign, aerial attached to a house, etc... we won't quibble with you on those points.  We will simply discuss the criticism of cultural terminology and popular common phrases in use during the Edwardian period.

Hysterian Assertion #1- The word "boyfriend" was not used during this time.

Historian Actuality shows the phrase is found in the following: Official report of debates Council of Europe. Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, page 470 (1895): "... from yesterday's edition of The Times of London which states, 'A woman who joined a company run by fundamentalist Christians was required to sign an undertaking that she would not live with her boyfriend."

From Wenderholme: A story of Lancashire and Yorkshire By Philip Gilbert Hamerton, Page 301, (1876): "This cheered Edith's heart considerably, but still there was a certain moisture in her eyes as she bade farewell to her boyfriend."

From The life and remains of Douglas Jerrold By Blanchard Jerrold, Douglas William Jerrold Page 331 (1859): "My early boyfriend, Laman Blanchard, and Kenny Meadows, a dear friend too, whose names have become musical in the world's ear, were of that society — of that knot of wise and jocund men ..."

Hysterian Assertion #2- The Phrase "get shafted" was not used until the 1960's.

Historian Actuality shows the phrase is found in the following from: Debates: official report, Volume 2, Canada House of Commons (1888): "I do not know what assurance can be given that people can be guaranteed that they do not get shafted, to the favour of some other group."

Hysterian Assertion #3- Footman Thomas Barrow, played by Rob James-Collier, used the words "get knotted" in the October 9 episode

Historian Actuality shows the phrase is found in: The Westminster Review, Volume 124, Page 402 (1885): In foreign affairs, when they get knotted, a Special Commissioner is appointed to report upon the situation, and to advise as to means of unravelling the tangled skein of affairs.

Hysterian Assertion #4- Head housemaid Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt) told John Bates (Brendan Coyle) in last week's drama set in 1917 "So everything in the garden is rosy?"

Historian Actuality shows the phrase is found in the following from: Fraser's magazine, Volume 19 By Thomas Carlyle, page 606 (1879): He looked so rosy, so cheerful, so placid, such a picture of rewarded philosophy and virtue, surely he must be the happiest of mortals.

From: Vanity Fair: A novel without a hero, By William Makepeace Thackeray, Page 95, (1845): The honest Irish maid-servant, delighted with the change, asked leave to kiss the face that had grown all of a sudden so rosy.

From: The complete works of William Shakespeare By William Shakespeare, Johnson: Page 556, (1863): Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd, And pray'd me, oft, forbearance: did it with A pudenc-y so rosy, the sweet view on't Might vvelghave warm'd old Saturn; that I thought er As chaste as unsunn'd snow :—O, all the devils! (And Shakespeare actually wrote this over 200 years earlier!)
Hysterian Assertion #5- "... some viewers have baulked at the use of the word "boyfriend", as well as the concept of a "professional woman", which is used to describe a maid who wants to leave domestic service to become a secretary." We find the latter half of that statement most amusing, as there are so many, many references to the term "professional women" in newspapers and in books from the 1800s. Too many to choose from, so we picked the cream of the crop, and they are as follows...

Historian Actuality We will gladly cite all of them for any readers asking, but we feel that the article in an 1898 New York Times, referencing the spirited ongoing debate in the pages of U.K.'s The Daily Telegraph, titled "Should Wives Work?  Opinions of English Men & Women-What an American Woman Thinks About It" quite plainly spells it out, especially in the sixth paragraph in Part 1 posted here.  It quotes a British reader's comment in The Daily Telegraph, "Several professional women, talking sensibly of the subject, say that their business life will make them more careful in the choice of a husband ..."

Or then there is the article from New Zealand's The Auckland Star newspaper from 1899.  One of the paragraphs in a story by a London correspondent on the recent happenings at The International Women's Congress, London July 14 is actually titled "The Professional Woman".

So it makes us wonder what exactly qualifies contributors to be called "historians".  Demita Usher and I wouldn't dare refer to ourselves as "historians".  There is so much we do not know.  However, we are "history enthusiasts" and we certainly loved Downton Abbey here across the pond.  It is with great anticipation that we wait to watch the second season of the program, and in the meantime, comments made by your historians, or "hysterians" if you will, have kept us entertained while we wait.

But don't fret Great Britain, as I also stumbled onto this headline; Kate Middleton Named 2011's Best-Mannered Person, Kim Kardashian Slammed as "Most Ill-Mannered" Kudos to Kate!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Famous Thoughts on Forks and Dining

1860s Melon Fork by John Cox, Silversmith


On Chinese food & Chopsticks: "You do not sew with a fork, and I see no reason why you should eat with knitting needles." -Miss Piggy, in 'Miss Piggy's Guide to Life' (1981) 
“How should melon be eaten? Not with a spoon, as is usual in restaurants..... The back of the spoon anesthetizes the taste buds! In this way, it loses half of its flavor. Melon should be eaten with a fork-melon.” From 'Propos de table'  by J. De Coquet in 'Figaro' - June 1982
“They say fingers were made before forks, and hands before knives.” Jonathan Swift - “Polite and Ingenious Conversations” (1738)
"Forks are made of iron or steel: noblemen eat with silver forks. I have gone on using a fork even now that I am back in England. This has occasioned more than one joke and one of my intimate friends did not hesitate to apply to me in the middle of a dinner the adjective 'Furciferous'.” Thomas Coryate, English traveler
“The two-pronged fork is used in northern Europe.  The English are armed with steel tridents with ivory handles - three pronged forks-but in France, we have the four- pronged fork, the height of civilization.” E. Briffault, Paris a table (1846)

“No rule of etiquette is of less importance than which fork we use.” Emily Post

Mind Your Manners... A Season to Practice the Art of Etiquette

From Foothills Magazine, December 2011-
Better living | Holiday Ideas

The holidays are fraught with a minefield of etiquette challenges: who to invite to what event, how much to spend on gifts, what to do with that nasty bit of fruitcake now resting in your mouth. Some choices are not always obvious.

Thankfully, people such as etiquette authority Maura Graber of Ontario are around to help, providing valuable knowledge in the manners department. For more than two decades, Graber has taught social graces to everyone from school children to heads of major corporations. She even hosted  a dinner at her home one year for domestic diva Martha Stewart. Here, Graber offers a few helpful hints for the upcoming season.
Maura Graber transforms the "Kids’ Table" into the "No Adults Allowed Table" and makes it more welcoming to the younger set that cringes upon being placed at the "Kids' Table".  PHOTO BY THOMAS R. CORDOVA 
Holiday decorations should not go up any earlier than Thanksgiving weekend, Graber says. “Let’s celebrate one holiday at a time. It drives people nuts when they go up earlier and earlier.” And, she’d wait “at least a week into December” before getting the house all aglow on the outside.  She suggests turning any lights and sounds off by 9:00 or so every evening. “You can’t have things blaring at all hours. People need to be considerate of their neighbors.” 

On the other end, she likes to have all her decorations taken down and put away by Dec. 30, to begin the new year with a clean house. “It starts getting tacky to have the lights and everything still up well after the first of the year,” she says.
Manners maven Graber says “re-gifting” is OK, but it must be done carefully.

“Make sure you’re not re-gifting in the same circle of friends as the person who gave it to you or you’re going to find out about it,” she says. Anyone who decides to re-gift should make a point of removing any original gift-giving tags and wrapping. Re-wrap it beautifully before giving the gift.