I’ve spent the majority of the past three days foraging in the attics at home. Amongst the bird droppings, dead spiders and endless bags of moth chewed cashmere, I have found some gems. First up is a pocket sized book, Etiquette by Martine Legge who ‘covers first of all the problems involved in letter writing, sending out invitations and addressing the aristocracy’ and goes on to a ‘discussion of the etiquette involved in taking out a girl, and the girl’s responsibilities on such occasions.’

It’s set out in sections, some of which did cause me to raise a carefully groomed eyebrow. In particular, Approaching The Professions, which starts What is a professional man? And continues to refer to men only throughout the chapter (accountants, doctors, solicitors, barristers, architects).

Ms Legge also addresses several other burning issues of the hour . Here follow some extracts to help you deal with them:

The Girl Who Lives Alone
Today this need cause no rising of eyebrows, providing the girl is not too young, that her parents approve and she is ordinarily sensible.

Entertaining at Home
If you have a variety of animals at home, keep them out of the way of guests. Nothing is more disconcerting than to find a hamster poking about on the sofa.

If there is no servant, it is wise to start a meal with something cold like melon, avocado, cold soup or pâté.

The Sunday morning drink party is an excellent way for unmarried people of both sexes to return hospitality.

It is difficult for a single woman to entertain friends in a restaurant unless she is very mature and sure of herself but a man can return hospitality by giving a small luncheon or dinner party in a restaurant.

If the hostess says, oh don’t dress up, the men should wear dark suits but the women can wear a dark wool dress.

Guests for the Weekend
A woman guest will wash up her dishes if there is no help in the house, but a man can leave them to be washed by his hostess.

Always tell a guest at what time he can have a bath.

Clothes & Appearance
Younger women who have just had their hair done can go hatless to a luncheon in a restaurant or to an interview.

Women should only wear rings on their engagement fingers.

Women should always wear gloves when meeting others.

Clothes for a Country Visit:
You should have at last one skirt which has a deep pleat, so that you do not get stuck half-way when climbing over a stile or jumping a ditch.

Taking Out a Girl:
If going Dutch is agreed upon for the evening, it is much more courteous & less embarrassing if the girl gives the man her share of money beforehand. To scrabble about in her handbag isn situ is embarrassing & degrading for the man.

At dinner, it is expected that a man offers wine (it need be only a glass). A man chooses wine without asking the girl which she would like

Behaviour of the Engaged Couple:
They can spend all their time together but should not go away alone for a holiday or weekend, unless they do not care a hang for the feelings of their parents or acquaintances! Whatever the laxity of modern life, this is still an understood rule of behaviour.

Apart from Etiquette, (no 33) one could also invest in books 1-36 in the Everything You Need to Know in a Nutshell series, which include Your Refrigerator, Week-End Jobs, Budgerigars & other Cage Birds, Party Games, Period Costume, Committees, Woodwork for Pleasure, Cocktail Fare and Judo.

Everything a modern girl could need to know if you ask me.

Oh & here’s a closer look at that cover. I fully intend to practice both this expression, and this fabulous way in which to exit one’s motor.
P1140106

UPDATE!: Just discovered that Collins have re-issued this book! It’s on Amazon here

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21 comments

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aww, now you’ve got me hooked! I want to read Everything I Need to Know about my Refrigerater!

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Hilarious! Now I know where I’m going wrong. Need to hide that hamster before guests arrive and get myself a deep pleated skirt for jumping over ditches!!

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Don’t laugh too loud, but when I was at school in the 1970s we had a woman (sorry, a lady) who gave lessons to us 6th formers on how to descend fabulously from sports cars. Which really meant how to do it without showing your knickers.
Of course, we didn’t have any real sports cars to practise in – and maybe that’s why I’ve never been a real lady! Must dash … it’s the servant’s night off, gotta slice that melon!

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Surreal… would love to see a modern-day version (“please please please wear knickers and keep those knees knitted together while exiting the car, for god’s sake”…) Actually, now that I think of it, I bet there are shed loads out there… just Googled and came up with A Modern Girl’s Guide to Etiquette by Sarah Ivens. No idea if it’s any good.

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Hilarity! And I miss your posts coming up on my blogger feed 🙁 x (added by Mobile using Mippin)

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@ She Wore It Well: hey there, you need to remove the old blogger feed, & re-subscribe I’m afraid, LLGxx

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Hilarious! I’ll be sure to hide the hamster before my next dinner party! x O.

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Amazing! I love old gems like this – snapshots of an age-gone-by. Funnily enough, my Dad still considers it improper for the lady to look at the wine menu. Also, love the line about there being no servant present! Brilliant. Welcome back btw x

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I think the tips for a country visit are my fav’s, brilliant post!

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This is fabulously good. I am taking it all to heart. Slightly worried that I may not be ‘ordinarily sensible’ enough to live on my own, but do absolutely agree that there is nothing more disconcerting than a hamster on the sofa. Even the thought makes me feel quite unusual.

Going now to look out my deeply pleated skirt. xx

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OMG, I HAVE THIS BOOK! I’d recognise that cover anywhere. No idea why I have it and obv have never read it. Those are priceless nuggets. Brilliant find!

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