Monday, 28 May 2012

Poems: How to Get on in Society


I am endlessly amused by social class. It's what makes Britain great. I love amusing petty snobbery, bizarre rules that make no sense and can never be understood and creaky old traditions. I especially love the Nancy Mitford rules of what is U or Non-U. Nancy wrote a guide explaining which words were utterly unacceptable and gauche and should never be used in Upper Class circles. Apparently, saying "toilet" is pretty much akin to saying the C word in some quarters of society. Marvellous. Paul found me this funny poem which mentions the worst word you could say: serviette. I shudder at the thought.

How to Get on in Society

by John Betjeman

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It's ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know that I wanted to ask you-
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

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