Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How to be a good hostess

I found this gem of a book in amongst the boxes my mum and her partner salvaged from their recently deceased neighbour's house.  There's no publication date on it, but from the graphic design I'd put it somewhere around the late fifties.  Not dissimilar in style to modern 'How To...' books (the title alone put me in mind of Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess) but full of lines that make you realise the past really is a foreign country.  Just two of my favourites: "If you're going to the coast, make a gay beach party of it..." and the entreaty, "Why not make it a threesome?".  Yes, I really do have the sense of humour of a 14 year old boy. 

The 'What Shall I Wear' spread is amazing, with lovely line drawings alongside the most specific instructions: "a fork lunch is an occasion for friendly rivalry in smart hats," or (for a country weekend) "nylons should be the 30 denier, fishnet kind".  Detailed directions are also given for how to invite guests, by letter, 'At Home' card or phone ("only for a Christian-name friend!" the book warns).  Being a good hostess sounds exhausting; I think I'll stick to my usual routine of 'send a Facebook message and order in pizza on the night'.

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