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TOP advice from Don't: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech, published 1886, price sixpence: " e table: Don't forget that the lady sitting at your side has the rst claim upon your attention. Don't talk when your mouth is full - never, in fact, have your mouth full. It is more healthful and in better taste to eat by small morsels."

" A McDonald's restaurant 2014: "Donna," bellowed Wayne, rubbing the congealed ketchup from his puce sweatshirt, "get yer fat a**e and bring us a McFlurry. And see if you can swap the toy in Wayne Junior's Happy Meal. He's already got the Katie Price doll in shnets and a nun's wimple."

"Bloody hell, Wayne," protested his tattooed, pierced paramour, "you've just spat bits of burger all over my shellsuit. You t**t."

e table 1886: Don't eat with your knife; take up food with your fork. Don't use a steel knife with sh. A silver knife is now placed by the side of each plate for the sh course."

McDs: An acned youth behind the gleaming counter casts a bemused glance at the plump customer and mouths: "Come again?" " "Wayne Senior was just wondering if you get a silver knife with thelet-o-sh?" mumbled Donna.

"Rather than the Katie Price doll in shnets?" asked the puzzled youth. "I don't think he even had a Happy Meal."

He turned to an overweight man waiting in the queue and droned: "Can I take your order, sir?" "No you can't!" snapped the customer. "Buy your bloody own."

e table 1886: "Don't be disquieted at accidents or blunders of any kind, but let all mishaps pass o without comment and with philosophical indierence."

" McDs: "Waaayne," shrieked Donna, "have you let one go? I thought so by the way you lifted your left cheek the seat. You shouldn't do that in front of our four kids. It's bad manners."

"I didn't know it was their turn," protested the father, using the blades of a plastic helicopter, plucked from the bowels of a Happy Meal, to pick his teeth.

e rules of etiquette have changed markedly since "Don't" - a guide to being the perfect gentleman - was published, a pocketbook which urges its readers: "Don't expectorate on the pavement. Go to the curb-stone and discharge the saliva in the gutter. Men who eject great streams of tobacco-juice on the pavement, or on the C/oors of public vehicles, ought to be driven out of civilized society."

Hear! Hear! Publicly expectorating is disgusting.

I know: I once had to eject a dyslexic from my local for spitting in the tips jar.

On the plus side, however, the 130-year-old booklet says absolutely nothing about urinating in streets.

But then it's hard to maintain Victorian table manners in today's glut of fast food - whoever snuck that "s" in is a clever swine - restaurants, establishments without waiters, tablecloths, port decanters and even cutlery.

called Burgers and kebab bars have not only destroyed old-fashioned culinary values, but junk food can also shorten your life considerably if consumed daily, medics have warned.

On the plus side, think how much time you save on preparation.

Fast food and shortened life expectancy probably balance themselves out in the long-run: She died at 63, but saved seven years in the kitchen.

Some "Don't" nuggets still need to be heeded.

"In speech: Don't use profane language. Don't multiply epithets and adjectives; don't be too fond of superlatives. Avoid meaningless exclamations such as "oh my!" and "oh, crackey!" Even in twee, Victorian times I doubt anyone hit their thumb with a hammer and screamed: "Oh my! Oh crackey!" But things have gone too far: you can't watch TV without enduring violence and swearing of the very worst kind - and that's simply while trying to wrestle the remote from my wife.

"Swearing," my mother used to say, "is for those with a very limited vocabulary."

" Not so. I know many words, but still prefer "**** o" to "please go away" and always will.

New Millennium Man's days of committing social faux pas after social faux pas may now be over, however, thanks to esteemed uppercrust publication Country Life.

With the help of celebrities such as Jeremy Paxman, Richard E Grant, Joan Collins and Jilly Cooper, the glossy mag has drawn up a list of "Gentlemanly Commandments".

Some are plain, common sense.

I wholly endorse "never wear fuchsia trousers", unless you really want to turn heads at Sydney's Mardi Gras.

And Country Life's right: real men don't neck Malibu, although the sickly drink has been presenting down-and-outs hooked on white spirit and milk with a crafty alibi for years.

I'd go further. Real men don't drink cocktails. I've visited a cocktail bar only once and told the waiter: "Get me a single entendre."

"On second thoughts," I added, "make it a double."

"Ooooh, missus!" he gushed, "that's a large one, sir."

" I also agree that a real gentleman "is mindful of others'nancial circumstances" - that's why I've been sending begging letters to lottery winners for over a decade.

But I don't buy Country Life's claims that a 21st century gentleman doesn't own a cat.

I have two cats, Kightly and Keogh, and don't feel any less masculine because of the feline pets. I nd them fascinating.

Last night I watched Kightly repeatedly hitting the cord to our kitchen blind with her paws for ten minutes and thought: "Stupid cat, striking a cord for ten minutes - it doesn't take much to keep her entertained."

en it suddenly dawned on me. I'd been watching a cat striking a cord with her paw for ten minutes.

Most ludicrous regulation in the Country Life rulebook is number four: "A gentleman makes love on his elbows."

It beats the top deck of a bus but I'm not sure where the magazine is coming from.

If it is a sexual position, then "sex elbow" would be a medical complaint, similar to tennis elbow but with more friction burns.

"Never heard of it," said drinking companion Colin, shaking his head, "and we've got a copy of the Kama Sutra. We're attempting every position in the book."

" "Really?" I gasped. "Yes. My favourite is e Beggar. She arches her back like a bridge, I crawl underneath... and fall asleep."

" "Last night I positioned her in e Plough, but it was less than satisfactory."

"Why?" I asked. " e landlord barred us."

Victorian glut of that "A TIGHT FIX HWHEN my fanbelt snapped I used my wife's tights to fix the problem. I put them over my head and robbed Halfords.

DAMN! This letter says I've just be called up for Katie Price husband duty.

HMIRRORS. Skyping for schizophrenics.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 11, 2014
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