Bitch on the Blog

April 8, 2014

Don’t speak with your mouth full

Filed under: Culture — bitchontheblog @ 10:42
Tags: , , , ,

Whilst I do notice someone’s manners I am not particularly hung about them even if they are bad. What is a starched napkin to some is a liberally employed toothpick to others. Doesn’t make you a less interesting person. Just reflects on your parents. Think about it.

Whilst you are thinking about it I’ll continue. My son can’t decide whether it’s annoying or amusing when I remind him – a minute before he goes visit his father – to not do this, do that, mind the gap and all that. I only do this because I know his father. His father is a stickler for the impeccable. And since he left all parenting (by mutual consent) to me naturally anything the Angel does or doesn’t do “correctly” reflects on me. As an aside: One might ask (and the Angel has) why I give a toss about what FOS thinks.

Yes, manners. Manners – and it doesn’t matter whether you behead your boiled egg or tap and peel it – are a prime example of true socialization. People harp on about nature vs nurture. Believe me: Manners are nurture and nurture only. My father is a great man yet his constant monitoring how to hold my knife et al  did spoil my appetite a few times in the early days of our acquaintance. To this day I can’t eat when there is tension at the table. A more benign form of having your stomach stapled.

However, such is nurture that even when eating in the sole company of my lovely self I will observe manners.

Where I come from there is a saying, and I don’t know whether it’s entirely true but there is a grain in it: “What little Hans doesn’t learn, grown up Hans never will”. Be that as it may. I was pretty relaxed with the Angel. I am a great believer in learning by osmosis.




  1. “However, such is nurture that even when eating in the sole company of my lovely self I will observe manners.” But that is when it is most important that one does! What you do when no one is looking is what defines your character.

    Comment by Rummuser — April 8, 2014 @ 11:38 | Reply

    • I like your brief summoning up, Ramana. What you said there is what my mother instilled in me from the beginning.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 8, 2014 @ 18:57 | Reply

  2. Manners can very well be nature versus nurture. Let me explain. Try as we might, it appeared my wife and I were not successful teaching manners to our children when they were younger. Then adolescence fell upon them along with a strong interest in the other sex and dating. I swear the transformation to mannered young adults capable of socializing was immediate. Nature does have an effect on manners…

    Comment by Phil — April 8, 2014 @ 12:20 | Reply

    • I don’t believe a word of it, Phil. You and your wife not leading by exemplary example?

      And what if your teenager’s love interest doesn’t have ANY manners to speak off? Kids will dumb down just to mirror and fit in. Not as stupid as it sounds. Happened to me. Note to self I made at the time: Do not invite X home for family dinner. He will not live it down. And I’ll be in the dog house. On top of which HIS mother told me to fucking stay away from him. Literally. Different class. And all that. I compute this now. At age seventeen I was a little baffled. Though both she (and my parents) were right.

      On the other hand, Phil, I will concede that “nature does have an effect on manners”. Not necessarily at the table. And I do expect doors being held open for me.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 8, 2014 @ 18:52 | Reply

  3. I break all sorts of eating rules. My aim is to enjoy my food rather than show everyone how well brought-up I am. Obviously I’d draw the line at greedily stuffing my face or eating everything with my fingers, but I’m not too fastidious about how I eat or for that matter how other people eat. Eating should be a relaxing experience, not a punctilious one.

    Comment by nick — April 8, 2014 @ 14:39 | Reply

    • You are missing the point, Nick. The way you eat, manners in general, are not about YOU. They are about other people. Those we break bread with. Please don’t tell me, because I won’t believe you, that you don’t mind people belching, throwing gnawed bones over their shoulder or, best case scenario, eat and talk at the same time.

      Put another way: Anything we do with others needs consideration of the aesthetically pleasing. Please don’t take offence but I do have you down as someone who attacks a chicken drumstick with knife and fork. No doubt blushing when you send it, as you will, flying across the table.

      I eat with my fingers, even in England. I don’t know how many times I have been told it gives people pleasure to watch me relish my food. However, I do maintain my belief that in order to believably break a rule (manner) first you need to know it [the rule].


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 8, 2014 @ 18:35 | Reply

      • Indeed, I do dislike belching, though none of my friends is prone to that unappealing habit. As for gnawed bones, there are none in our household as we’re vegetarian. Ditto chicken drumsticks.

        Manners are personal as well as social, as Ramana observes above. Manners shouldn’t only be something you “put on” for other people’s benefit. In fact I’m much better mannered in private as I can’t talk with my mouth full – there’s nobody to talk to.

        Comment by nick — April 8, 2014 @ 19:43 | Reply

        • Dear chicken in vegetable heaven! You can be so po-faced at times, Nick, I sometimes don’t know why I bother with you. As Hercule Poirot would say (insert French Belgium accent): “There are two ends to a stick”. And often you don’t get either.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — April 8, 2014 @ 21:39 | Reply

          • Po-faced? That’s a new one….

            Comment by nick — April 9, 2014 @ 07:08 | Reply

  4. Definition of SOVIET: What the lower classes call their napkin….. (froma book of schoolboy howlers read aged 12.)

    Mother (her again) kept a table/serving spoon beside her and if we did not hold our utensils correctly we felt the force of her displeasure…. No elbows allowed on the table either and woe betide anyone who slurped their soup.

    My father had an intense loathing of anyone who ate noisily. Especially Phil Archer…. son of Dan and Doris. I have to admit to a like loathing of noisy eaters…. I can only surmise that this was absorbed at the family table.

    I habitually hold doors open for anyone whom I perceive of as in need of assistance but so called feminist colleagues would complain about it.

    BTW a gent;eman always goes down the stairs before a lady/woman and up the stairs behind her. As Grannie said, “So that she has something soft to land on should she fall.”

    Comment by magpie11 — April 8, 2014 @ 18:05 | Reply

    • Definitely no elbows on the table. Though after dinner with plenty of wine still to finish one may make an exception. A woman needs to rest her chin somewhere when in full flow of thought.

      I agree with your father. Noisy eating is for pigs. And that’s ok. In fact, I love listening to pigs full throttle. Theirs a sound of appreciation. Humans? Well. Haven’t listened to the Archers for years. I think it was Ruth’s and David’s daughter whose high pitched endlessly whining voice put me off. Do you ever feel like punching someone just on account of their voice?

      As to stairs: When it comes to strangers (say the plumber or electrician) I’d rather they walk ahead of me. Not least because our staircase is steep and I tend to wear skirts rather than trousers.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 8, 2014 @ 21:51 | Reply

      • I’m glad to hear that you wear skirts rather than trousers…. it must be the sexist old fashioned bloke/chap in me.

        As for voices… I’m sensitive to them… and accents and dialects. Some do put me off…especially whining ones.

        Am being pestered by a cat…. she wants to sit on the keyboard to tell me to feed her!

        Comment by magpie11 — April 9, 2014 @ 18:35 | Reply

  5. I did write a post in the mists of time on the very same subject, U. I find bad manners distracting, often unhygienic (being sprayed with food by a person talking through the beef roast half ingested in their mouths), noisy and disgusting. I was going to add riveting also, as I can’t focus on my own eating or keeping my end of the conversation when I’m trying to look anywhere but the contents of your mouth and the grease all over your chin and fingers along the slurpy hoovering of your coffee.
    My parents were sticklers as was I with my children. It is important for peaceful co-existence. I think it is called civilization.

    Comment by wisewebwoman — April 8, 2014 @ 23:10 | Reply

    • Your are right, WWW, “peaceful co-existence” being the key. Does make travelling interesting. Along the lines of “When in Rome don’t be Chinese”. I am pretty easy going and will blend in but have found myself in strange situations. I can’t quite remember now, possibly a Thai Restaurant (in Germany), where – on entering – you were requested to take off your shoes to then be seated on the floor with your legs crossed. That did test me slightly. First of all I do not like to be parted from my shoes. And sitting on the floor? Well, obviously it’s what you do when out on a picnic. Indoors I prefer tables. The food was great. Though do not find some Eastern cultures’ subservience conducive to atmosphere.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — April 9, 2014 @ 09:59 | Reply

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