Survival of the wittiest

Oh dear.

Having finishing last night’s epic moanfest, I retreated to the bath (as is often my wont in such scenarios) and resumed my study of that worthiest of tomes, Whitehorn’s Social Survival. Imagine my dismay when I turned to page 12 and discovered the following list under the heading of ‘The Dullest Subjects In The World’:

Cars (n/a)
Children (n/a)
Taxes (I have PLENTY to say on this subject but will hold back for now)
Any sport (n/a)
My pet (n/a)
Why my life is so much more awful than anyone else’s (oh dear).

With this in mind I’d like to apologise to readers if I bored your socks off with the last post. I’ll try harder next time. Yet perhaps the situation is redeemable: on page 13 Whitehorn includes a list entitled ‘You Cannot Go Wrong’:

Admiring a woman’s jewellery
Asking a man about his work (unless he’s unemployed or in MI5)
Sending a female flowers
Asking a man’s (non-professional) advice
Asking for a recipe

The above actions may will be tricky to incorporate within blog format, but I shall try my hardest. In the meantime I recommend that you go straight out and buy a copy of Social Survival so that you, like me, can learn to hold your plate, wine glass, napkin, cigarette and gloves in one hand whilst making witty smalltalk with strapping young bachelors at cocktail parties.

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About Christina Kenny

Christina Kenny is a music journalist based in London.
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5 Responses to Survival of the wittiest

  1. kate sb says:

    I don’t trust this book.

    Firstly, it doesn’t include ‘whatever dream you had last night’ in its list of boring subjects.

    Secondly, it is sexist. Oh yes, probably in that retro-vintage-ironic way, but still, not cool.

  2. Christina says:

    Hmm. I take your point, but would argue that it’s not so much ‘sexist’ as ‘published, once, in 1968’.

    You might like her advice on ‘how to address irregular couples on the outsides of envelopes’ (p. 58). I did.

    ‘For some reason a common compromise is “John and Mary Smith’ – avoids the dread word “Mrs”. If they are pairs of queers put both names in alphabetical order.’

  3. kate sb says:

    ‘Published, once, in 1968′ – how does that disqualify it from being sexist? It just means it isn’t a modern, ironic pastiche (what I thought it was).

    • Christina says:

      Well, I did try to take it seriously and get all offended, but I just can’t. It’s one of my favourite books. She advises on what to do if your knickers fall down at a party.

  4. Nic Dempsey says:

    You should also read her ‘Cooking in a Bedsitter’. The recipes are mostly awful but it’s worth it for the chapter ‘the fourth paw’

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