“If you do it right, being a grown-up is just like being a kid . . . but without people telling you off.”
No one learns “etiquette” anymore (except by embarrassing trial and error). But manners are more than a dusty tradition: Done right, they make life easier—for everyone! That’s why Sandi Toksvig highlights decency rather than convention in this entertaining guide, with:Spot-On Advice: “Remember—you don’t have to answer the phone, so don’t do it if you don’t have time to be polite.”Fascinating Trivia: “It is very rude to clear the plate of someone who hasn’t finished. In fact, the Romans believed doing so would bring about the diner’s sudden death.”And Her Characteristic Wit: “Focusing on the people you share a meal with is both a pleasure and a necessity. Get to know your family members; you might even like them.”Be the most decently behaved person in the room, and the most interesting: Master The Tricky Art of Co-Existing!
Toksvig (Valentine Gray) thoroughly covers the intricacies of modern manners in this handy, if sometimes strained, offering. In 11 chapters, written in letter form to an eight-year-old named Mary (identified as a "delightful child in my life"), she outlines everything from dining in (don't pick nose or teeth at the dinner table; how to use chopsticks; what is appropriate to eat with one's fingers) and out (as a guest at a dinner party, wait to be invited to have a second serving; as a restaurant customer, tipping, ordering, and the like) to behaving on social media (beware of showing off; don't be a troll or feed one; try not to look desperate or weird). The author serves up her advice with a solid helping of odd, intermittently relevant trivia the creator of grocery store chain Piggly Wiggly; the origins of the fork; Alfred Hitchcock's childhood which, if nothing else, will give readers a few fascinating, offbeat facts to share at their next dinner party. While Toksvig's writing is engaging, her frequent asides to young Mary quickly become cloying and cutesy. Still, her advice is sound and should save many, not least young Mary, from unintentional etiquette gaffes in the future.