Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Royal visit angst

Seems that Will and Kate, those royal love birds, will be visiting our neck of the woods so to speak, shortly. Once again another opportunity presents itself to be among royalty although still from afar, and give them the royal wave. You know - hand in the air, sort-of semi-circular movement but not all the way around. Queen Elizabeth has got it down pat but then she's had all those years to practice.

Then there's the decision as to whether or not a hat is in order, at all. I mean, what if one were to meet the royal couple one-on-one, then a hat would be in order one assumes. Accompanying this subject is the issue of whether one should wear a casual or formal hat, but for sure definitely not a baseball cap. Another dilemma, at least for me, would be whether or not to wear gloves and if so, should they be wrist or elbow length? Just doesn't seem logical to wear long-ish gloves up to the elbow with - say - pants, jeans or capris. In any case, these decisions call for yet another visit to Debretts for further consultation on royal manners for "what-ifs."

According to Debretts in their Royalty section, there is no accepted code of behaviour for encounters with royalty, "but adhering to the traditional forms of address will prevent anxiety."

Presumably, this includes no gum chewing if one is within viewing sight of the royal couple, and neither would cracking gum be acceptable. Another subject worthy of further thought is the wearing of panty hose. Would Kate notice if one's legs were bare and is it even appropriate to bear one's legs in front of royalty at all? So many questions with so few answers to these dilemmas!

To get back to Debretts, when being introduced to a member of the Royal Family men should bow and women curtsey. This subject was broached in an earlier blog entitled, "Meeting the Queen: what should one do?" if anyone reading this wants to know how to conduct oneself. A handshake is also acceptable. A bow should be made by bending from the neck or shoulders (not the waist) while briefly lowering your eyes. Lowering my eyes? What would happen - say - if one inadvertantly forgot to do this? How much of an faux pas would staring directly ahead be?

I can see the headlines now: "Royal goof - Ms blah-blah was seen not to lower her (or his) eyes while being introduced to Will and Kate." Could this be interpreted as being too brazen? So many things to remember.

Debretts also advises that should one happen upon a 'royal' during their time off, allow them the freedom to go about their business as an ordinary person. 'Assume that to royalty, being left alone is far from a slur; it is a luxury.'

Should one meet up with the royal couple while they take five at Second Cup or Starbucks, for example, one should not ask Kate or William to pass the sugar as a means of striking up a conversation. Neither should one keep any empty sugar packages that they may use, their coffee(or tea) cups for souvenirs.

Perhaps all this worry is in vain anyway, since they will be spending a mere few hours in our area. Thinking it all over, perhaps I'll just stick to practicing my royal wave and hope that they wave back. I mean, it's the least they could do.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What happened to supermarket manners and courtesy?

For whatever reason, shopping at the supermarket has become an excursion in bad manners, IMHO. Case in point: yesterday while waiting to check out grocery items in a line, the woman in front decided that she needed a pack of cigarettes - had to have those cigarettes right there and then. She asked the check out cashier for a pack, after which the cashier directed her to counter where the cigarettes were available. However, the cigarette-craving-female (CCF) expected the cashier to leave her cash and get them for her! After being informed that the CCF would have to go buy them herself, the woman asked the cashier and the line-up of shoppers one of whom was me, to wait until she went to buy a pack.

"I don't think so!" I told Ms CCF.

"But it will only take a minute!" she responded, starting to move out of the line in quest of her cigarettes.

"Why don't you wait and buy your cigarettes after you check out your items?" I told her, quite miffed at that point.

The cashier for her part, realizing that I was somewhat PO'd, jumped in and told the woman that if she chose to go buy her cigarettes, then she would check out my items first. Internally, I smiled. After a five second pause while the CCF considered her options, she left her items in pursuit of her pack of cigarettes. Meanwhile, the cashier checked out my items first until Ms CCF returned to her place in front of me, presumably happier for having a pack of cigarettes in her purse.

Then there's the people who feel they are entitled to taste cherries - note the plural form used here - as they bag them. There are no signs visible anywhere offering free cherries and/or taste-testing, people! One pays before tasting! A few are dropped in the plastic bags and the remainder of the cherries are stuffed into mouths, as cherry juice drips down the side of their faces. These are the same people who also spit their cherry pits to the ground or back on the cherry display. Nothing more disgusting than coming accross or finding a saliva ridden cherry pit during hand picking. Blech!

Also falling into this category are shoppers who strip the leaves off fresh corns and throw them on to the ground. Also worthy of mention are veggie choosers who press tomatoes and other fragile veggies like peaches, nectarines et al, to the point of leaving indented finger marks. Don't we all just love to eat fruit with somebody else's fingers on the surface? Again - blech!

Or how about people who remove the enclosure tabs inside orange juice containers for whatever reason and then replace back into the refrigerator display.

Not to be overlooked are shoppers who take the shopping carts to their cars without replacing them in the allotted area, allowing the shopping cart wheels to roll on to fenders.

In any case and to return to Ms Cigarette Craving Woman, last time I spotted her as I was pulling out of the parking lot, she was puffing away while emptying the shopping cart. Talk about money going up in smoke. Really.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Meeting the Queen - how does one conduct oneself?

Fresh from consulting Debretts on how to act if ever invited to a royal event or wedding, which as it happens I didn't have to worry about, anyway, since my invitation appears to have been lost in the mail, seems that we regular people have to be aware of social faux-pas or no-no's when meeting the Queen of England. Realistically speaking, few of us will have the opportunity to even be in the company of royalty, other than taking photos outside Buckingham Palace along with other visitors, but it's still good to know these things.

No less than President Obama, leader of the U.S. of A, breached royal protocol recently, when he inadvertantly made a toast to the Queen and then continued with a short speech. According to royal protocol, he should have stopped. The band, taking a cue from the Queen, started playing the national anthem, while Pres. Obama continued talking. Somehow, envisioning the scene, reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, but I digress. As I recall, the Obamas didn't receive an invitation to the recent royal nuptials, either.

So right now like me, you're probably wondering just what in the heck is royal protocol, anyway? Does it cover things like how to bow or curtsy (this has always been a stumper for me - I like to be prepared for these things), and etiquette that would cover issues like is it proper to spit or dip one's dinner napkin in one's water glass to wipe away sticky food from one's face. Stuff like that.

This mysterious - at least to me - issue of royal protocol goes back to a time when monarchs were accorded an almost divine status.

According to Dr. Kate Williams, historian at London's Holloway University, "From medieval times, monarchs were divinely appointed to rule by God, so they were kind of seen as gods, so they demanded to be treated as gods," says Dr Kate Williams, a historian at London's Royal Holloway university. "They are treated as people set apart from the rest of us, so primarily what it is creating is distance and grandeur."

This means one does not make any moves until a royal person moves first. For example, you wouldn't greet the Queen and her ilk like a long, lost relative by kissing her on both cheeks. Or speaking first by telling her that you love (or hate as the case may be) her hats. No hugs are allowed, either. Or using a cell phone to pick up messages and definitely no tweeting would be allowed. Bowing, according to Dr. Williams, is allowed and in fact, encouraged.

Presumably, there have to be rules in regard to bowing and/or curtsying. According to Debretts, my new "bible" for any royal "how-to" issues, have got this issue covered under the "Recommended Etiquette Upon being introduced to The Queen, and on leaving, a bow or curtsy is made" section. Take notes people!

- The bow is an inclination of the head, not from the waist.
- The curtsy should be a discreet but dignified bob.
- In conversation, address The Queen as 'Your Majesty', and subsequently 'Ma'am' (to rhyme with Pam).
- When conversing with The Queen, substitute 'Your Majesty' for 'you'.
- When introducing another person to The Queen, simply state the name of the person to be introduced:'May I present Mr John Smith, Your Majesty?'

However, not mentioned is how one measures a "dignified bob." Should the chin touch the chest area? Are winks allowable?

Royal protocol can be viewed as an expression of respect for the Queen.

This leads one (me) to wonder what the royal etiquette would be, say, if the Queen would visit the U.S. and attend say, a hockey game for example. Just thinking... Perhaps Debretts has this issue covered as well. Also found a section on Debretts covering seating arrangements, for future commentary. Meanwhile, I'll go practice my curtsies - just in case. You never know.