This, lads, is a fish knife

#1
This, lads, is a fish knife

New Statesman - Feb 07

Several threads about commissioning from the ranks reminded me of this article about the Potential Officers Development Course, which I thought may be useful for a wider audience.

What do you think someone needs in order to be an officer in the British army? Grit, no doubt, and determination, plus the ability to lead rank-and-file soldiers both in the barracks and on the battlefield. What about an appreciation of the theatre, and some knowledge of fine wines?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
You mean . . . you can't blow your nose into the napkin?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#4
Well thank gawd for that. I'm sure I could manage to sniff me snot back up until the toast was completed.

I'd best get this technique sorted out pretty damned quick as I've been invited to a forthcoming Regimental Dinner.
 
#6
Sandbanks said:
Fisk knives? How vulgar.
I seem to remeber one of the questions asked in 'The Sloan Ranger's Handbook' (the original one...) was wether the Queen used fish knives and the answer was that she does!

If its good enough for Queenie....
 
#8
Biped said:
You mean . . . you can't blow your nose into the napkin?
Believe it or not, I remember reading a really, really old etiquette book from about 1805 (or thereabouts), in which attention was drawn to the fact that it was no longer acceptable to blow yer schnozz on the tablecloth.

So you're not far off the mark there, Biped. :D :D :D

MsG
 
#9
Biped said:
You mean . . . you can't blow your nose into the napkin?
Heathen!! - I bet you p*ss in the bath as well, a true gentlemen will p*ss in the sponge and then wring it out into the sink! :D (Allegedly :oops: )
 
#10
"They send you away on training days/weekends . . . to learn the ins and outs of what fork goes where and how to talk like a constipated fruit gargler."

Always handy when Terry is fragging you with RPG rounds.
 
#11
HM the Queen Mother was once invited to a dinner, where a guest subjected her, the hostess and his fellow diners to a diatribe about how fish knives were simply vulgar and how surprised he was that the hostess was using such common items.

Said guest was later invited to dine with HMtQM. There was a fish course on the menu, and the offending articles were at every place setting. Every time the anti-fish-knife chap turned up to dine with HMtQM over the next three decades, fish would be on the menu as the main course.

Apparently, as they were about to tuck in, HMtQM would always comment on what a useful thing fish knives were, and how clever the person who thought of them was - just loudly enough for said dinner guest to hear...
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#12
Archimedes said:
HM the Queen Mother was once invited to a dinner, where a guest subjected her, the hostess and his fellow diners to a diatribe about how fish knives were simply vulgar and how surprised he was that the hostess was using such common items.

Said guest was later invited to dine with HMtQM. There was a fish course on the menu, and the offending articles were at every place setting. Every time the anti-fish-knife chap turned up to dine with HMtQM over the next three decades, fish would be on the menu as the main course.

Apparently, as they were about to tuck in, HMtQM would always comment on what a useful thing fish knives were, and how clever the person who thought of them was - just loudly enough for said dinner guest to hear...
HMtQM was a Lady of distinction, and better versed in politics and social etiquette than said big-mouth could ever hoped to have been. One can only hope that the big-mouth was not too much of a dullard to miss the point over 30 years.
 
#13
As a young gunner many, many moons ago, I was given jankers serving at a oofercers mess ball. One of my duties that night was to serve the wine, one of the oofercers was a “real pain in the arse” he kept telling everyone at the dinner table that he knew everything about wine, he was one of those broomstick stuck up arrse sort of *anker.
Any way to cut to the chase, he managed to down at least two bottles of very good Mosel mixed with urine, without commenting on “How much body” the year1963 had.
 
#14
The Americans run a similar course for their Defence Attaches - rather too many were drinking the finger bowls and cutting their food up at the start of each course before forking it down like toddlers.

As I recall fish knives were introduced because Victorian fish courses used so much lemon and the acid would have damaged the steel blades of those usually used.
 
#15
oldnotbold said:
The Americans run a similar course for their Defence Attaches - rather too many were drinking the finger bowls and cutting their food up at the start of each course before forking it down like toddlers.

As I recall fish knives were introduced because Victorian fish courses used so much lemon and the acid would have damaged the steel blades of those usually used.
I think it more likely that they were devised for lifting the fish from the bone more readily than can be achieved with a table knife.
 

Trans-sane

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
EX_STAB said:
oldnotbold said:
The Americans run a similar course for their Defence Attaches - rather too many were drinking the finger bowls and cutting their food up at the start of each course before forking it down like toddlers.

As I recall fish knives were introduced because Victorian fish courses used so much lemon and the acid would have damaged the steel blades of those usually used.
I think it more likely that they were devised for lifting the fish from the bone more readily than can be achieved with a table knife.
In the real ye olde days you were supposed to eat fish with two forks (naturally only using the left hand one to eat with). The more I about old school table etiquette, the more convinced I become that it was invented solely because the ideal rich didn't have enough to do with their time. Or then again maybe they used it as a drinking game "I say chaps. Sir Jonathon is using the salt incorrectly. DOWN IN ONE! DOWN IN ONE!!!"
 
#17
Biped said:
Archimedes said:
HM the Queen Mother was once invited to a dinner, where a guest subjected her, the hostess and his fellow diners to a diatribe about how fish knives were simply vulgar and how surprised he was that the hostess was using such common items.

Said guest was later invited to dine with HMtQM. There was a fish course on the menu, and the offending articles were at every place setting. Every time the anti-fish-knife chap turned up to dine with HMtQM over the next three decades, fish would be on the menu as the main course.

Apparently, as they were about to tuck in, HMtQM would always comment on what a useful thing fish knives were, and how clever the person who thought of them was - just loudly enough for said dinner guest to hear...
HMtQM was a Lady of distinction, and better versed in politics and social etiquette than said big-mouth could ever hoped to have been. One can only hope that the big-mouth was not too much of a dullard to miss the point over 30 years.
I seem to recall hearing this story, or something like it, years ago. Assuming it's completely true, I hardly think it a mark of "distinction" to subject one's dinner guest, however prattish, to such a prolonged humiliation: make the point once (and gently), if you must, then leave it at that - to do otherwise would be petty vindictiveness bordering on mania, rather than good manners or "social etiquette". But it seems more likely that it happened just the once, and then lost nothing in the telling. I could be wrong, of course ...

On the original topic, I'm surprised to hear that the 'knife-and-fork course' is still running; I thought they'd binned it long ago.
 
#18
We did sod all 'knives and forks' on ours. The theatre trip was instantly forgettable. The trip to Belgium was great; the one to Wales less so. TRIPOD was farcical. The attitude of the permanent staff at Worthy Down (less the ASE staff) was frankly appalling, topped off by the truly ridiculous RP Cpl, a man who had better pray I never run into again. Cnut. We did have a cheese and wine evening in the Mess, at which I got really drunk with a member of the RMP and we delighted in informing DSPS that we would consider joining the AGC as orrificers if we could have our pick of totty as our personal slaves. It later transpired she was some sort of lesbian so it didn't go down too well.

What I do remember was loads and loads and loads of PT, being thrashed all over the place by Mad Dave himself and several top notch pi55-ups. And the lovely Liz, of course, who is now married with bambino I hear.

There are still loads of my POD serving.
 
#19
Trans-sane said:
EX_STAB said:
oldnotbold said:
The Americans run a similar course for their Defence Attaches - rather too many were drinking the finger bowls and cutting their food up at the start of each course before forking it down like toddlers.

As I recall fish knives were introduced because Victorian fish courses used so much lemon and the acid would have damaged the steel blades of those usually used.
I think it more likely that they were devised for lifting the fish from the bone more readily than can be achieved with a table knife.
In the real ye olde days you were supposed to eat fish with two forks (naturally only using the left hand one to eat with). The more I about old school table etiquette, the more convinced I become that it was invented solely because the ideal rich didn't have enough to do with their time. Or then again maybe they used it as a drinking game "I say chaps. Sir Jonathon is using the salt incorrectly. DOWN IN ONE! DOWN IN ONE!!!"
I hear those days aren't over, thank god, you still find yourself getting fined on mess dinners for the most trivial of things...like letting the port touch the table.
 
#20
Proximo said:
We did sod all 'knives and forks' on ours. The theatre trip was instantly forgettable. The trip to Belgium was great; the one to Wales less so. TRIPOD was farcical. The attitude of the permanent staff at Worthy Down (less the ASE staff) was frankly appalling, topped off by the truly ridiculous RP Cpl, a man who had better pray I never run into again. Cnut. We did have a cheese and wine evening in the Mess, at which I got really drunk with a member of the RMP and we delighted in informing DSPS that we would consider joining the AGC as orrificers if we could have our pick of totty as our personal slaves. It later transpired she was some sort of lesbian so it didn't go down too well.

What I do remember was loads and loads and loads of PT, being thrashed all over the place by Mad Dave himself and several top notch pi55-ups. And the lovely Liz, of course, who is now married with bambino I hear.

There are still loads of my POD serving.
That sounds a lot more like the course I did than the one in the article. I don't know where Eric Joyce is getting this stuff about cutting cheese etc, he was the OC when I did it and the only time I remember eating cheese was when a group of us were sitting on a river bank in Belgium getting sh*t faced.
 
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