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William Hanson
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
I would guess that the author had a lot of fun writing this book as it is a lot of fun to read. Haynes Publishing are probably best known for their Owners Workshop Manuals but this segue into a series of “Bluffer’s” books is a nice change and a refreshing one.

The author has taken the idea that there are some people in this world who are social climbers who like to hang out with people from the ‘right’ side of society and this book is the guide to that person so that they do not show themselves up as NQOCD (Not Quite our Class Darling). Now much of this is well known and of course practised by the more refined elements of Arrse and will come as no surprise but there are elements in here which may just cause a slight raising of one’s eyebrow.

Sprinkled throughout the book are tips from the author on what to say and what not to say on particular subjects; for example at a funeral, Do Say: “Your father was an example to us all” Don’t Say: “Has he left you enough to retire on?”. Very simple advice yet perhaps not really practised by many!

The book has thirteen chapters and a glossary. The chapters cover a very wide range of social events and circumstances from the casual drinks party to a Royal meeting, the end game for any Bluffer who is worth his or her salt. The author has recognised that we are a changing society so has included a chapter on Twittiquette covering the new-fangled method of communication. He does point out though that a nice hand-written letter or card beats an email hands down, although he would not use that phrase. There are chapters on Hatches, Matches and Despatches so the Bluffer is comfortable in any of these scenarios. These include who should be at the bridal top table and who should be in any line-up following a funeral and the order that people should be seated, presented at these events. All good stuff for your task of not making a gaffe.

In his introduction to the book, the author gives the purpose and reason, other than a nice fat cheque from Haynes, for the book in that it is so that the Bluffer has the manners and etiquette required to move in the circles he/she intends. As Hanson puts it, etiquette is the off-side rule of good manners allowing the Bluffer to score properly and without penalty. The author does apologise for not taking that particular analogy further but football is not his game, I think he is more in to polo. (Horse type, not water).

As I said, the average Arrser will no doubt be well acquainted with the rules and pitfalls of etiquette but I would recommend this book just to brush up on the fine points and to bring your knowledge into the 21st Century.

This is a small, pocket sized book which will fit very easily in your jacket inside pocket or even ladies handbag, depending on your preference/gender, paper back so light and unnoticeable. It is funny, relevant well written and some thought has been put into telling us what basically is good manners writ large. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will remember to take it along the next time I am invited to Balmoral!

Well done Haynes for bringing this book to us. It is part of a series of “Bluffers” books ranging from “Bluffers Guide to Beer” which is being review for Arrse as we write. There are a total of sixteen Guides ranging from Etiquette to Chocolate, to Social Media and many others. Well worth a read and these will not go amiss sitting prominently on your bookshelf (but hidden from your guests so they don’t realise you are Bluffing!).

4.5 Mr MRHs for a great relaxing read.

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