Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pictures, Not Words

It's 1935. England. You've been invited to a formal dinner party in one of the great English houses.




Here's what's at your place setting - although the napkin would NEVER be in a napkin ring. Far too middle class.


In 1935, the white mess jacket was the newest fashion for men to wear at formal dinners. Who set the fashion? The Prince of Wales. (later Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor)
But, of course, you could get by with traditional dinner jacket.
Women's fashion is long and slinky. Think of the finest silks and satin, cut on the bias. Diamonds, optional - but certainly encouraged.

The host and hostess will be placed at each end of the table and the highest ranking gentleman will be placed on the hostess's left. Highest ranking lady on the host's right. No spouses are ever placed next to each other.

You'll be eating at least six courses - starting off with something light, like melon - moving to the fish course, to the soup course, to the entree, to the salad, to the dessert to the savoury. After dinner the ladies will retire to the main sitting room for coffee while the gentlemen gather around the table for port and cigars.

One of these dinners is in my WiP. Fun to write - but it would have been even more fun to experience!

18 comments:

  1. Love this!!! What fun.

    (Can I have my salad course in a smoothie?)

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  2. Ooh, this would be so much fun. What's the difference between dessert and a savoury?
    Karen

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  3. Elisa; Smoothies and the 1930s - not so much. Feed it to the dog - there was always some pampered pooch mooching around the table.

    Karen; Dessert was sweet - cake, etc. Savoury was not - often prawns or marrow bones. Ah, the English.

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  4. Elspeth - Thank you so much for sharing those pictures and descriptions! It helps so much to "put oneself in context" to be able to visualize. Looking at that place setting, and knowing about the "rules" for dress and other dinner etiquette, it's no wonder that young ladies and gentlemen took lessons to teach them all of the intricacies!

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  5. Margot; Aren't pictures wonderful? The file I have is enormous. I'm much better capturing a scene or an atmosphere if I can look at a picture. They're terrific for adding details.

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  6. And no one tweeting under the table. My how times have changed.

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  7. Carol; And no worrying about cell phone reception!

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  8. Oh my goodness - think of all those dishes to wash!

    I'm a lot more comfortable with a paper plate and plastic silverware!)

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  9. It really is such an interesting time period! So much importance on rank, fashion and tradition. Fun stuff to read/write about :)

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  10. I have a feeling I'd have been an anxious guest at one of these dinners! Although I like the idea of retiring for coffee...I may have to do that now!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  11. Jane; Luckily, if you were a guest, or the owner of the house - there were legions of servants to take car of the dishes.

    Jemi; I've always been fascinated by it. Little wonder I write in this period.

    Elizabeth; I'm sure you'd have done very well. You just have to remember who you talk to during each course - one course you turn to your left, the next to your right.

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  12. I think I'd be so nervous I'd spill something on myself.

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  13. Love the fashion, if only I were long and slinky enough to wear it! :-)

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  14. Sounds like a wonderful party. I love the fact you mentioned about changing sides you talk to with each course. Now days everyone talks in all directions at once.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  15. Ahhh... What fun! It reminds me of formal dining on a cruise. Love that dress!

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  16. I would love to attend just one of those dinners. Keep reading about them, and wishing....

    Thanks for sharing.

    ~ Rayna

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  17. I'll file that information away (not that I will ever throw such a lavish function). If I attended a dinner like that I would be worried I used the wrong spoon or glass at the wrong moment...and what do I pour my beer into, anyway?

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  18. Don't you just love doing this kind of research to add realism to your WIP? And you're doing a fine job. I was like SO there.

    Marvin D Wilson

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