Mary Killen

Your problems solved | 22 November 2003

Etiquette advice from The Spectator's Miss Manners

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Dear Mary...

Q. Like 37,000 other people, I signed up to go to jail on the declaration day and received a little Hunting Declaration badge to wear on my lapel and a yellow car sticker against the unjust ban. What other gestures can I make to indicate support for this noble cause ?

M.H., Collingbourne Ducis, Wiltshire

A. Why not load the ‘Gone Away’ hunting call on to your mobile? You must have polyphonic ringtones and be Wap-enabled, but you can find out if your mobile is compatible by looking up the website, where you can also hear an ‘audio sample’. You can purchase online for £3, with 50p going to the Countryside Alliance. Or you can telephone 09065 388986 code 58041. Equally, you can text your request as ‘Goneaway’ (one word) to 82246, and the cost will appear on your normal monthly bill. One codicil: do not play this clarion call too close to hunting-mad ponies or they will try to leave their stables and look for hounds.

Q. Would you please give some advice on what to do with spent cartridges on a shoot? On some corporate shoots it is quite clear that the empties will be picked up, but when shooting with friends at smaller shoots it is sometimes made clear before the off that spent cartridges should be picked up. Occasionally, a bag is given to each of the guns in order to make the collection more simple. However, generally nothing is said and some do and some don’t pick up. Those that do leave them in the back of the shoot transport, which is as untidy as leaving the cartridges at one’s peg.

C.H-T., London SW17

A. It is a courtesy, even on a corporate shoot, to gather up the spent cartridges and put them in a pile near your peg. Well-to-do hosts normally employ someone to pick them up, but on smaller shoots, if no one is employed, you should pick them up yourself, put them in your pocket and throw them in the back of the Land Rover at the end of the day. Unless guns are being very cavalier, the host should not need to ask them to do this except very occasionally; if, for example, on a shoot in three different fields, one of them contains young cattle, he might request that the pegs out in the field pick up their spent cartridges.

Q. I am about to order a new suit and am confronted by the decision: double-breasted or single-breasted? I have been informed that double-breasted suits are out of fashion now, but recent publicity surrounding the royal family shows the Prince of Wales invariably wearing such suits. Can you enlighten me as to the true situation, as I don’t want to waste my money?

Name withheld, Cornwall

A. The prevailing air-conditioning and central heating have led to double-breasted suits and waistcoats falling into desuetude, since nothing is less elegant than unbuttoned double-breasted coats or waistcoats. However, men, especially MPs, now compete in flaunting highly patterned ties and a single-breasted suit enhances that effect. Meanwhile, the double-breasted suit may well be more comfortable in draughty redoubts in Ireland or Scotland, which is a factor the Prince of Wales must take into account when ordering.