I don’t know why I never thought to look at The Lady until recently. I subscribe to Town & Country specifically because it seemed like it would be a useful resource for Uncommon Courtesy, but for some reason, I never thought to look up and see what The Lady is like, even though I knew it existed. Now, I won’t be subscribing to it because the print version is 70 Great British Pounds which is EVEN more in American dollars, not even thinking about whether they have an even more expensive rate to ship internationally. Happily for me and for you, they have a website!
The Lady is actually Britain’s longest running weekly magazine- founded in 1885. Even more delightful for me, the founder was Thomas Gibson Bowles, the maternal grandfather of the famous Mitford sisters (Nancy was a contributor at one point, natch.)
The Lady has also been mentioned on Downton Abbey several times because it was and continues to be THE place for aristocrats to advertize for household help-even the Duchess of Cambridge does it.
Aside from it’s fascinating history and royal associations, the current The Lady is MAGNIFICENT.
First, there are the world famous ads for domestic help:
“Titled Sir and Lady, without children, require a butler and housekeeper for a couple position in a beautiful country house on their estate in Yorkshire.
The suitable couple will be responsible for the smooth running of the house, chauffeuring when required, care of fine antiques, fabrics and furniture, and must be knowledgeable in laundering full clothing and care of silver. Traditional and formal service skills are necessary.”
Secondly, a column entitled “Nanny Knows Best:”
“It’s a fine line for parents and carers who instinctively protect and cushion children from life’s difficulties. So I’ve always found that somewhere between a stiff upper lip and a gentle warm heart approach is best. Like a spectrum of sorts. Sometimes a child needs a firm but fair hand. Sometimes lots of love and hugs. And sometimes a “you’ll be right” in that moment they’ve fallen over and not sure if crying or getting back up and playing is what they want to do.
Situations require all manner of approaches and not just constant smothering.”
Traditional British culture- like how to host a Burn’s night!
“Food should be absolutely central to the party. The star of the show is normally a haggis which, in a traditional sit-down dinner, is piped in by bagpipes, toasted with a dram of whisky and pierced with a dagger before being eaten.”
Of course they have their own etiquette column:
My oldest friend always criticises my Christmas presents and accuses me of getting them from charity shops. This year I thought I’d really try to improve. But I’m completely stuck for ideas. Can you help?
Doris Sydenham, Reading”
And the world’s most perfect horoscopes (this is for Scorpio, which is both Jaya’s and my sign):
“Grace and tact will not diminish the power of what you have to say or write. Think: iron fist, velvet glove.”
So, as you can see, this is a must-read for any anglophile or lover of all things pretentious.