Bot: "Grampa, how do we address the second cousin of a widowed Bishop who is also the first son of an heriditary baronet?"
Northern Socialist: "Tosser."
Half term and my lovely nephew's birthday always coincide and over the years we have built a tradition of nice-dinner-sleepover-and-decadence. The last bit comes from a grandmother's arch remark many years ago on seeing the four bots in my bed watching a Disney film with bowls of Hula Hoops and juice. Anything fun and likely to be disapproved of is now known in our house as decadence and I think that's probably about right.
Anyway, being on the cusp of teenhood, Oscar requested a visit to our favourite Indian, the Arsenal game on TV and everyone to wear neon. The owners of the restaurant are delightful and kind and treated our colourful party like royalty.
This followed on nicely from the conversation the bots and my sister had been having in the car about good manners and etiquette. They had been (surreptitiously) taking the piss out of their grandmother for banging on about manners at lunchtime and the Pretty One had tried to explain the difference between the two.
In our family, we think that good manners are vital and a way of welcoming everyone, duke to dustman and treating them the same. We don't have much truck with etiquette and think that it's more about exclusion and making those who don't know the form feel awkward and left out. She tried to explain this to the four bots. Freddie, being a fair bit younger, cottons on eventually, 'Ah, is it like shovelling?' 'What?' 'You know, helping up a lady when she falls over in the street like the Colonel is always saying.' Silence while they all wonder what sort of female company the Colonel keeps that is likely to be so unsteady in public. 'Oh, chivalry you mean.' 'Yes, that's it. Helping her up and not laughing.'
After a feast, the bots settled down to watch footie and the Pretty One and I holed up in the kitchen with tea and fancy chocolates. We hacked my brother's account and invented Facebook Schadenfreude. It's a hilarious game for adults based on spite, bitterness and nerves of steel. Look up people you really should have got over after 20-odd years. Check out as much of their lives as they've posted in the ether. Award yourself one point each for divorce and redundancy. Take away one point each for photos of a ten-year anniversary party and second homes (second homes on another continent, minus five points). Award yourself two points for each child that is boss-eyed, scowling or otherwise unappealing. Deduct two points for each child that is playing sport at an international level under the age of 16 or well-dressed and smiling. Profile pictures by Demarchelier, school reunions at Fouquet's you weren't invited to and a Porsche for a 21st birthday (I am not making any of this up, sadly) are just Plain Bad Manners.
We laughed ourselves silly. But I think chivalry may have died a tiny death at my kitchen table last night.