August 6, 2008

How To Be a "U"

Reading about the new MTV show "From Gs to Gents" I couldn't help but think about Nancy Mitford's instructions for being "U" (upper class) or "non-U" in her satirical guidebook, "Noblesse Oblige." Many of her rules were a matter of linguistics and vocabulary, for example:

non-U: take a bath
U: have a bath

non-U: dentures
U: false teeth

non-U: mirror
U: lookinglass

non-U: serviette
U: table-napkin

non-U: glasses
U: spectacles

non-U: perfume
U: scent

non-U: radio
U: wireless

In looking up more examples, I came across this article on updated rules from UK etiquette expert, Mary Killen. A few examples:

-- At the grocery store, use a basket, never a cart
-- Never eat between meals. Stick to breakfast, lunch and dinner only
-- Say that butter is "off," not "rancid"

I'm pretty sure I'm a hopeless case, but I can pretend. Let's put it this way: I'm hosting a dinner party this weekend entitled "French Laundrymat" as opposed to "French Laundry." I think I'll go have a bath now.

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