Mary Killen Mary Killen

Your Problems Solved | 30 November 2002

Etiquette advice from The Spectator's Miss Manners

Dear Mary…

Q. I am a hereditary peer. I am also in the auctioneering business and my work takes me to the United States, where confusion frequently arises over my Christian name. What is the most tactful way for me to correct those who have misunderstood the details on my business card and assume that my parents actually chose the name ‘Lord’ rather than it being thrust upon me, as it were?
Name and address withheld

A. Let us assume that you are Lord Blunderbuss and that your true Christian name is ‘Peregrine’. The very first time the misunderstanding is confirmed – when, for instance, someone says, ‘Good to meet you, Lord’ – you should reply, ‘Oh, just call me Peregrine. I never use my title.’ If, however, you wish to pull rank for any reason, say, ‘Thank you very much for using my title. You know, five years ago in England everyone referred to me as Lord Blunderbuss. These days people are much less courteous….’

Q. During the summer I attended a performance of Gifford’s Circus, where everyone in my party was totally enchanted by the dancing pony, the tightrope walkers and the acrobats. I, however, found my own eyes were totally transfixed by the legs of the dancing girls. These girls were dressed in traditional circus-girl costumes, rather like swimming suits, but each one of them had legs of totally flawless tone and, knowing that even Claudia Schiffer complains of having cellulite, I wondered how this effect was achieved. Can you help, Mary?
D.W., Marlborough, Wiltshire

A. Yes, I attended some of these performances myself. The ‘flawless tone’ effect of their legs is achieved by wearing a shimmering pair of support tights, from somewhere like the Pineapple Dance Studios, underneath a pair of extremely tight fishnets.

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