You know how, when you are a British noble in the eighteenth century, and you are redoing your landscaping and you’ve got Capability Brown doing the design and are adding some nice fountains and follies, but somehow it’s still just missing something? What if…you just hired a living human to come and be a hermit on your property? That would be just the ticket, right?
It sounds a bit nuts, but ornamental hermits were a fad among the rich in both England and France for a while in the 1700 and 1800s!
It had to do with a romantic notion of sadness and meditation, and what better to remind you of that than having a person act it out in your presence? Hermit grottos would be built as part of the landscaping design and then men would be hired to come in and be the hermit- often for quite a lot of money. But they would have to agree to grow out their hair and beards and not trim their nails. Sometimes they would be asked to dispense wise words to visitors and sometimes they would be silent in more of a living diorama. Some hermits would stay as long as seven years or more.
I first came across the concept in one of those reality shows where people have to live for months like they are in a historical time period- this one was called Regency House Party and they had an actor playing the garden hermit. At the time I was just like, oh yeah, the hermit, that makes sense in this wacky world where they take baths according to rank, using the same water for each person. But now, I look back on it and I’m like, WHAT? It’s such a strange concept. It really makes garden gnomes and flamingos look very rational and charming!
I bought a book called Bed Manners: A Very British Guide to Boudoir Etiquette which is a 2014 reprint of a 1936 book and I was dying to find out people could possibly have been printing in the 1930s about bed manners. It turns out that it’s much less salacious than the title implies. Though, thankfully it doesn’t pretend that people don’t share a bed (married people, only, natch): “Your first shock will come from the discovery that even the nicest person…is actually a skeleton most insufficiently padded at the forehead, chine, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.”
It offers pretty good advice in dealing with common shared-bed problems such as The Encroacher; The Human Caterpillar (aka Blanket Stealers); Readers-, Talkers-, and Eaters-In-Bed. And the sort of things you will have to decide on in a shared bedroom- what kind of bed, how much light, how much fresh air, noise, what/how many pillows, what time to get up, and how cold or warm.
It also recommends a great deal of consideration for your partner- picking up your clothes as you get undressed and putting them away, not blowing your nose on your sheets or putting your dirty shoes on them, wearing nice looking nightclothes, and brushing your teeth.
Of course there are some fun outdated bits about how unappealing hair curlers and face cream are to a new husband who has never seen such a thing before. Or about how much women love hot water bottles (…this may not be SO far outdated as I have one [heart shaped!] that I love, though I will concede that I am sometimes quirkily outdated).
Some other choice chapters:
- Berth Control in the Railway Sleeping Car
- Bed Manners in a Country House
- How to be a Charming Invalid
- How to make a Hospital Proud of You
- Simple Rules for Subtle People
I recently went to a birthday party with about 20 people attending at a bar that was supposed to be so quiet that the bartenders shushed the room when it started to get too loud. It was fine, but I started wondering if we were being rude by inflicting a party like that one a venue that was clearly not that into it (not so against it that they would kick us out, however). So that got my thinking about how to choose a venue for your birthday or get together or whatever that would suit the kind of party you want to have without creating an undue burden on the establishment or the other patrons.
So some thoughts:
- Make sure the venue is adequately sized for your party, don’t try to squeeze 50 people into a 500 square foot bar. Likewise don’t try to get them into a restaurant with seating for 25.
- Try to give a heads up- see if you can reserve a room or some tables at a bar, get a reservation at a restaurant. (Be kind to your gets and don’t take a huge group to a restaurant with no reservations and a 3 hour wait to accomodate your size!)
- Don’t take a rowdy group to a sedate spot where you are going to significantly annoy the other patrons.
- Try to choose a spot with a wide variety of drinks or food- an all beer bar or an all fish restaurant is going to be rough for some people (me, it will be rough for me).
- Consider the cost. Maybe you can afford to down $20 cocktails all night (especially since your friends will likely try to buy them for you), but unless you know that’s your crowd’s level, maybe consider bringing it down a couple notches so everyone can participate with ease.
- Possibly try to hold your event on a less popular night and or time when things are less crowded and your group is more able to fit into the place you want.
Obviously these are super loose guidelines- do what you want! But you are probably going to have a more successful event if you follow them somewhat.
Being in the hospital is no fun, but often, the experience is made worse by the behavior of others in the hospital. It’s bad enough recovering from surgery or waiting for test results without having to hear someone in the hallway barking on their cell phones. I’ve had a few family members go through overnight and extended hospital stays over the past year, and asked them about what they wish was different about the experience (you know, besides being in the hospital in the first place).
- Don’t touch things: If you’re visiting someone who is in a hospital bed, likely they’re surrounded by a ton of things that are beeping and plugged in and possibly connected to the patient. Don’t touch them. They do important things.
- Don’t linger unless the patient has asked you to: If you’re close family it’s easier to justify hanging out in the hospital room to keep the patient company, but socializing takes a lot of effort, especially when you’re sick. Come in, check on what they need, chat for a bit, but don’t stay all day unless you talk about it.
- Do not bring your entire family to hang out: Nowadays, at least in America, staying in the hospital usually means you have a roommate, so a lot of standard roommate etiquette applies. However, lots of people seem to forget how to have a roommate. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from friends who have stayed in hospitals is their roommate’s entire family will be there all the time, making noise, taking up space, and in general forgetting that there’s another patient in the room. Even if you’re fine with your entire family being around, your roommate probably isn’t, so be considerate.
- Be quiet: The main thing about hospitals is that they tend to be places for rest and healing. So respect that by making sure you’re not speaking on your cell phone too loudly in hallways, watching TV during regular bedtime hours, or carrying loud conversations a foot away from your roommate’s bed.
- Don’t argue with doctors: Ok, this is a hard one, because there is certainly an issue with doctors not listening to patients, or misdiagnosing them, or thinking that Black patients don’t feel pain. Also many American hospitals are extremely taxed/understaffed and as such getting and maintaining a doctor’s attention can be hard. That said, there are a lot of patients in hospitals, and doctors have a lot of training in how to prioritize their needs. It’s a stressful place for everyone, and getting angry generally won’t help anybody. If you have an issue, by all means bring it up, but try to judge whether it’s informed by your actual treatment or just your unhappiness at being in a hospital in the first place.
Royal Ascot starts tomorrow and if you don’t know, it’s the premier horse race in Britain. Like the Kentucky Derby, but with royalty in attendance.
The race was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is attended every year by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family. They even open the race by entering the ground in horse drawn carriages! While the general public can buy regular tickets to the races, and almost 300,000 do, but only the crème de la crème can hob nob with the Royals in the Royal Enclosure. Royal Enclosure invitations are harder to get than Hamilton tickets- to be a Royal Enclosure member, you must be sponsored by two existing members who have been members themselves for at least 5 years (and members can only sponsor two new members each year). Members are also allowed to bring up to two guests on the Friday or Saturday of the races, but these guest passes are limited, so even if you do know someone, you might still not get in!
If you do manage to get a membership or invitation, you are going to have to follow the extremely strict dress code:
- Morning dress is required- this means a cut away coat, special pinstripe pants, a waistcoat and tie. In either black or gray.
- A black or gray top hat (again, this is REQUIRED, you will probably have to rent one)
- Plain black shoes
- Or you can wear National Dress (aka you are from another country and have a special formal wear- such as a kimono) or formal Military Dress (if applicable)
- Boys 10-17 can wear the same, or just wear a plain dark colored suit with a tie.
- You are not allowed to wear:
- A cravat instead of a tie
- A bowtie
- Any adornment to your hat
- Formal daywear. Dresses or skirts must knee length or below. Trouser suits are also appropriate.
- Dresses and tops must have straps at least one inch wide (no strapless, halter tops, spaghetti straps)
- Hats with a base of at least 4 inches (aka no fascinators) must be worn.
- Midriffs must be covered.
- Girls 10-17 must wear the same, but they can wear fascinators or other small headpieces.
Again, this strict dress code is for the Royal Enclosure only. And honestly, if you are going to be participating in that, this is probably a dress code that you are already familiar with and prepared for anyway. The Queen Anne Enclosure also has a dress code- generally- hats required for ladies, nice dresses and pants suits with no shoulders or midriffs showing, no shorts. For men, they must wear a suit and tie. The super general area doesn’t have a dress code, but from pictures it looks like people mostly make some effort to look nice. You can see more dress code info with fun pictures on their website.