Wednesday, June 17, 2009

From my email inbox

In the coming weeks you will be contacted by the Governor General’s office with regard to the various protocol, dress code etc associated with attending a function at Admiralty House.

Can anyone explain to me why this sentence should produce an overwhelming desire to turn up in a sweaty blue tradie's singlet and the grottiest, daggiest tracky daks I can find? The convict ancestry, perhaps?

And me the proud owner and frequent consulter of this book since 1984, too:


Mindy said...

What a fantastic title for a book. Is it a parody or does it actually have tips?

wv: fiessi

Pavlov's Cat said...

It has nothing but tips (unfortunately it's American so no advice re matters vice-regal), but it is also very funny. Opened at a random page:

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please list some tactful ways of removing a man's saliva from your face.

GENTLE READER: Please list some decent ways of acquiring a man's saliva on your face. if the gentleman sprayed you inadvertently to accompany enthusiastic discourse, you may step back two paces, bring out your handkerchief, and go through the motions of wiping your nose, while trailing the cloth along your face to pick up whatever needs mopping along the route. If, however, the substance was acquired as a result of enthusiasm of a more intimate nature, you may delicately retrieve it with a flick of your pink tongue.

Miss Manners can't believe she said that.

Fyodor said...

I'd expect more from a girl like ye.

Pavlov's Cat said...

More in which direction? Better knowledge of matters vice-regal without recourse to etiquette handbooks? A more imaginative technique of spit removal? No plebby knee-jerk desire to don a blue singlet?

Mindy said...

I think Miss Manners would advise, if one must wear one's tracksuit, to go in something like this.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Ah yes, the watermelon velour hoodie. Chanel eat your heart out. "Nook and cranny" appears to be the name of the colour; let's not, erm, go there. Classy.

WV: frang. Rly.

Fyodor said...

"More in which direction?"

A nautical direction for a start. OK, you're half-way there with the navy singlet, but what's wrong with dressing like a pirate? Golden opportunity wasted, says me.

"Better knowledge of matters vice-regal without recourse to etiquette handbooks?"


"A more imaginative technique of spit removal?"

I am surprised you didn't correct it with the appropriate answer to the enthusiastically intimate scenario, which is that a gentleman should be expected to remove his own saliva, in the traditional manner.

"No plebby knee-jerk desire to don a blue singlet?"

Too '80s. As Mindy noted, velour tracksuits are the go here, but I'd add the knee-high pink ughboots.

Actually, all of the above is tosh; I just wanted to pun on your penultimate post.

TimT said...

That's just wonderful, and with a distinctively US tone to the etiquette tips. I will look out for this. I also really enjoy the Miss Manners column ('Dear Mary') at the back of The Spectator, when I buy the magazine. 'Mary' has similarly detailed etiquette tips - she specialises in devising elaborate methods by which embarassing information can be conveyed, or gauche habits of guests/friends halted - possibly reflecting the concerns of her largely UK readers.

The only manners book I have read in detail is this. O'Rourke is actually quite fond of the 'Emily Post' school of etiquette - the book was written to satirise the boorish manners of his own generation. The formatting is quite wonderful - it has labelled diagrams, and is set out in columns. Pity I've lost my copy...

TimT said...

My own manners dilemma at the present time: should a hat be taken off after boarding a tram? ( say yes. Others - well, most people - say no. Though there was a chap in a porkpie hat who boarded the 86 a week or so ago who took it off when boarding, and who I immediately sympathised with.)

Pavlov's Cat said...

'I just wanted to pun on your penultimate post.'

Well indeed, and I am shocked that it took me a few moments to catch on.

TimT, can't help you with the tram, but a gentleman most definitely should remove his hat upon entering a cinema. (As should a lady; anyone see SJP on Jonathon Ross the other night? And doesn't Robert Downey Jr look like the young Al Pacino? And wasn't Gwyneth Paltrow sweet?)

Helen said...

I have grey marle trackies and almost-matching hoodie (men's) from Target and the op shop respectively. I call it "Nook and Granny".

w/v praver

Zoe said...

I saw dress pretty and fart.

wv = reftical

lucy tartan said...

That email is really great isn't it. Because of course you are totally at a loss as to how to dress yourself presentably like and how not to gob on the floor etc. I hope they send instructions for how to negotiate the fiendishly difficult matter of putting the cardi buttons into the correct buttonholes.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

Being overdressed for an occassion is much preferable than being underdressed.

I do wish more people would be explicit about dress codes in invites. No one even knows the difference between a lounge suit, a business suit, a dinner suit, sports coat and pants, or reefer jacket.

Fer gawdsake - any student of history can tell you that this is what caused the downfall of the Roman Empire.

"What do you call a New Zealander in a suit and tie"?

"The defendant"

Quips like this have lost their meaning. Today people turn up to court or a wedding or a funeral in jeans or clean trackies.

I was heartened yesterday when booking a cheap "chav/hens night" flight from one part of the EU to another to see that easyjet actually has a dress code for their pay-as-you-go lounge.

Not only do they have a dress code but the contents warmed the cockles of my increasingly chilly vascular pump:

Our Lounges operate a smart/casual dress code and we simply ask guests to refrain from wearing shorts, baseball caps and football shirts..

What's not to like about that?

Perhaps not all is lost.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Alright, I'll ask: how come you're going to Admiralty house then?

(or have I missed something here?)

(or do the rest of your readers go so often it's routine to them?)

Elsewhere007 said...

Well, invites requesting that one wears 'Territory Casual' have led me into all sorts of for-and-against Crocodile Dundee attire speculations.

Henry said...

Couture trackies, but of course. I went to a vice-regal pie night once, and was shocked (shocked!) at the sight of a woman in trackies. Not her cleanest pair, either.

My advice is to dig up an old "It's Time" button. Pin it on your best applique cardie and Gough's yer uncle. Real subtle.

Up the workers, and hats off.

w/v weduct. medical term, I'd say, or a legal term with a speech impediment.

Ampersand Duck said...

Did they really use the 'etc' or did you insert it? Because if they had, the mere assumption that there is more to be told but they're not telling you yet would make me want to do something bolshie.

(WV= eticed)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Laura, quite. I was tempted to send back an email saying 'Dear X, my confidence in my ability to dress myself appropriately is actually pretty intact, but I would really appreciate an actual address for Admiralty House instead of just "Sydney" as specified on the invitation; could you narrow it down a bit?'

FXH, I look forward to receiving their dress code. I will probably then have to consult Miss Manners in order to decipher it.

From what I know about the G-G I think the 'It's Time' button would not be regarded as radical enough.

Yes, the email does indeed say 'etc' and without a full stop either, I might add. Who knows what more there is to be told, eh?

Dressing pretty and farting are all very well if one is any good at them, but since I'm not I might go with decent subfusc, very small diamonds in the lobes of my ears, and two drinks max.

The occasion is the launch, by Her Excellency herself, of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, a mammoth tome modelled on the Norton anthologies, of which I am one of the section editors. It promises to be fancier even than the Miles Franklin 50th anniversary dinner in 2004, at which Cate Blanchett made a brilliant speech about Australian women artists and then went home early to breastfeed the six-week-old.

I have been thinking about the knee-jerk bolshieness a lot though. The late great novelist Dorothy Dunnett is particularly good on protocol and dress and their uses, and why not. Can't help thinking that getting one's back up about this sort of stuff makes one not so very different from the anti-intellectual target audience David Penberthy was aiming at when he said The Punch wasn't going to be a la-di-da site for people with three degrees etc etc blah. I need to lift my game.


Stephanie Trigg said...

very small diamonds, eh? You might have to alternate with that lovely picture of your neck in its lace...

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh, that would be better jools, yes. And there are earrings that would go well.

Depends on the neckline of the hypothetical frock, but.

Link said...

Nah, there's a reason why pretentiousness is so odious. You have every 'right' to feel bolshie, just be glad its not a normal part of daily life.

My sister and my Dad were big on etiquette or being concerned about it, whereas I would argue that if you had some semblance of grace and humanity you didn't need to be told by some try hard twat how to behave or how low to kowtow. As for being dictated to about what one may or may not wear. I think its bloody insulting. What are we three year olds?

Link said...

Sorry-- it's.

lucy tartan said...

May I suggest pink shorts in tribute to Don Dunstan?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Well, if I were half my age and half my weight, I might consider it. But probably not for long.

M-H said...

Dorothy Dunnett? Ahhhhhh... ::faints dead away:: Sorry, fangirl moment.

Black with designer jewellery. It's Sydney so youll both blend in wioth the crowd and stand out from the G-G who will be dressed in some deep bright colour, like emerald or ruby, and will also be sporting matching high-heeled shoes.

Anonymous said...

Nothing says Bolshie Chic quite like a formal frock and a big tattoo. Perhaps a red velvet number with a plunging back, and an enormous tribal sun tattoo (temporary, of course) on the back of the PavCat. Smile benignly and sweep graciously through the crowd.

WV: fecciso. Something on the menu at Tiamo's, but I don't know exactly what.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'Sorry, fangirl moment.'

Oh, me too. So you will understand why, at the 2000 (I think) Adders Writers' Week retreat dinner at McLaren Vale, I rudely elbowed a lot of other people out of the way to get to sit across the table from her and interrogate her about all the books over dinner. She was everything you'd imagine, funny, frank, friendly, ferociously intelligent -- and adorable.

'Black with designer jewellery.'

That pretty much describes my entire wardrobe, except for all the stretch leggings, Ugg boots and K-Mart polar fleece tops for hanging round the house in.

'Perhaps a red velvet number with a plunging back, and an enormous tribal sun tattoo (temporary, of course)'

Ooh, tempting. Mind you, my wedding dress was red velvet and look how that turned out.