THE VIEW FROM HERE With the diamond jubilee season almost upon us, now is the time to brush up our social decorum as we prepare to engage in a variety of new activities.
Socialising with our neighbours, for example. Street parties will be all the rage in a few weeks’ time and it is vital the Island does not let itself down by unseemly behaviour or intemperate outbursts.
We should all learn lessons from the recent regrettable incident at the party held at St Patrick’s Church, Sandown. It is probably best not to go into the full details yet again but suffice it to say you would do well to avoid the hokey-cokey. Particularly if you are wearing anything (a cassock, for instance) which needs to be hitched up above your knees.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is an occasion for merriment but we should also be dignified and courteous to our neighbours at all times. The cautionary tale of the St Patrick’s Day party is a further warning against reviving old squabbles during any display of exuberance (the hokey-cokey, for instance).
In fact, let the Island impose a moratorium on the hokey-cokey for the duration of the jubilee.
We cannot risk any more embarrassing headlines on this matter, especially as the Queen is coming to see us in July. Although not everybody will meet Her Maj on her visit, there is no reason why we should not behave in a regal fashion, whether at a street party or something which involves canapes and fascinators and strangulated servility while trying to remember if Ma’am rhymes with farm or jam. Really, the poor woman must think all her subjects have lost their wits and need their tonsils removed.
A street party is probably a jollier option although, as neighbourliness is not nearly so widespread as it once was, many of us may have to take a crash course in getting to know those who live nearby.
Where once everybody chatted over their fences and borrowed cups of sugar on a regular basis, anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer says the typical neighbourly relationship in England is now one of “distant cordiality”.
We shall have to ratchet that one up, if the cup cakes and bunting are to assume any atmosphere of jubilee joy. Debrett’s Guide to Etiquette provides some invaluable pointers as to how it should be done.
“When new neighbours move in, be quick to make friends. Pop round with a friendly smile, a cup of tea and offers of help and advice.”
It is possible you have never met or even know the names of those neighbours who moved in 20 years ago but it is surely not too late.
Pop in with that friendly smile and cup of tea.
They’ll think you’re barking mad but at least it will break the ice before you start putting up trestle tables together.
OK, now everybody’s friends, what next?
“Be aware of the impact that your behaviour has on neighbours,” advised Debrett’s. There is no further elucidation but I think we can assume they’re talking about the hokey-cokey.
When it comes to partying with the neighbours, there is a hint of caution.
“If you get on well enough with them, it’s a good idea to invite them to big parties and al fresco events.”
This would appear to imply you should keep your neighbours away from intimate gatherings and certainly should not permit them inside your house. Perhaps Debrett’s has had cassock experiences of its own.
Still, that seems to clear the way for an “al fresco event” or, as ordinary people call it, a street party. I’m sure everything will go with a swing.
Oh, hold on, what’s this?
“Avoid litigation if at all possible,” are Debrett’s final words of advice. “You will always be nervous around your neighbours.”
I’m afraid it’s back to the hokey-cokey.
Look, when you pop round with that friendly smile and cup of tea, why not ask the neighbours if they fancy a gentle jubilee waltz? Saves trouble in the long run.
Is there really a cereal thriller waiting amid the nut clusters?
Nothing seems to stop the merciless proliferation of supermarkets across the Island. The latest big beast to advance upon us is a vast Asda, planned to sprawl across a site at St George’s Way, Newport.
A stone’s throw from Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, the Co-Op, and numerous other smaller retailers but presumably a pleasing new development for those who need to be constantly within waddling distance of a supermarket and become depressed if they are more than five minutes away from a bumper bag of oven chips.
Supermarkets are forced to try every trick in the book to woo their customers.
One such blandishment is the section in Sainsbury’s marked ‘adult cereals’.
What on earth can this denote? Novelty shaped nut clusters? A free sex aid with every packet?
I am intrigued but, infuriatingly, I just can’t reach the top shelf.