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Since reading this post on social etiquette by US blogger Maggie Mason earlier in the week, I’ve been mulling over my own social graces (or lack thereof). I’d like to think I was reared reasonably well, and parts of her list make perfect sense to me, but I can’t quite get my head around some of her advice.

For starters, I’m all for throwing my own parties, as are my friends (with the exception, lately, of hen parties). As an unemployed bum earlier this year, I didn’t particularly fancy celebrating my birthday, and would have been morto if a friend had organised something for me. Surely one should be able to choose if and when and how one celebrates?

Then there’s the question of the thank-you note. I keep a stash of thank-you cards in my desk – and use them as occasion arises – but if Maggie’s guidelines are to be followed they are, in fact, a cop-out, and I should be sticking to the Basildon Bond instead. Is there really that much of a difference? Is a pre-printed card better than no card at all?

And last, but not least, there’s the condiment situation. There’s no room in my poky apartment kitchen for anything other than my originally-packaged Heinz and Colman’s and Branston so, out on the table they go. Plus, I rather like their kitschy packaging.

So, Anti-Roomers, please tell me, for I am bewildered: am I a complete oaf? What would make it into your etiquette guide? Or, when it comes to socialising, should etiquette guides be binned entirely in favour of plain old individual common sense? Answers on a sheet of Basildon Bond, please.

Catherine Brodigan

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