2004 May/Men dear men

Breaking up the Party

Parties of the type we have been considering should not be prolonged beyond a reasonable hour. It would not be too early for guests to begin to leave at about 11.00 p.m. Certainly it would be unfair to prolong your stay after 11.30 p.m., unless your host gives clear evidence that he would like you to stay longer. On leaving, it is the duty of each guest to seek out the host or hostess and offer a brief word of thanks for the enjoyable evening.

Judging the appropriate time to take your leave is an important point of courtesy. Often the whole success of the party may depend on it. Where young people are concerned, it may be necessary for the host or his parents to ring down the curtain, with no apologies offered. It is not quite so easy where adults are concerned. It should be remembered that normally it is the duty of the guest to take the initiative in terminating a social call or interview. Even though your host is bleary-eyed and feeling thoroughly brain-washed from hours of wearying chatter, you cannot expect him to take down the family cornet and blow “God save the Queen” in a desperate bid to get rid of you. Hostesses have been known to resort to extreme measures in order to prise out of their homes guests who have overstayed their welcome. One resourceful lady, ready to snatch at any means of release, on hearing a slight sound, suddenly rushed from the sitting room, with the hurried explanation: “Excuse me, that must be the milkman.”

On this subject of “breaking it up” one writer expresses himself feelingly in these words: “When it is time to go, go, and don’t feel it necessary to explain just why you are leaving. Beat it, buzz off, scram, contenting yourself with conventional expressions such as ‘Lovely party!’ or ‘How good of you to ask me!’ Don’t choose that moment to remember the latest story, don’t prolong the departure of yourself and others by starting an anecdotal tizzy, a spiral of stories from which there is no escape. More parties, poised in the balance of success and failure, have had the scales tipped against them by prolonged good-byes than by any other single solecism.”

Soon after the party, and preferably on the following day, you should write a short note of thanks to your host or hostess. In some circumstances a telephone call will be sufficient.

Staying Guests

If you are privileged to spend some days as a guest in another’s home, make it your business soon after arriving to find out the rules of the house. You cannot expect your host to read you a list of by-laws; it is up to you by tactful observation to learn what is required. It is your duty to be cheerful at all times and appreciative of whatever is done for you. The guest should not fail to greet his host and other members of the family each day with a cheery “Good morning”.

Even though you may be on close terms of friendship with your host, you should not take the liberties you might allow yourself in your own home. For instance, you ought to ask leave of your host before using his telephone. If the duration of your stay is left entirely to yourself, you should not extend it much longer than a week. It is a gracious custom to send a small gift to your host a few days after your departure. This could take the form of flowers, a box of chocolates or cigars, a book or an ornament, accompanied by a brief note of thanks.


One of the most testing experiences for a young man is the interview. Many a fine ambition has collapsed before this ordeal. Yet today the interview is the gateway to so many desirable careers that it is important to give thought beforehand to what will be expected of you when you find yourself in such a situation.

In the vocational interview, which is the one you are most likely to face, your main purpose will be to impress a prospective employer with the best qualities you possess. Therein lies a danger for the unwary: you may try to assume external graces of speech and deportment which are not natural to you “putting on side” we call it. Anything suggesting affectation or artificiality will be very quickly detected and will make an unfavourable impression on the man you had hoped would take you to his heart as the very person the business needs.

The quality most needed at an interview is poise, which implies a nice balance between excessive modesty and brash self-confidence. Above all, try to be your natural self, your best self certainty, but free of all airs and flapdoodle.


In most cases the person who is to interview you will require you to supply a reference. To render it applicable to a variety of situations the reference is headed: “To whom it may concern.” It will set out the more significant facts of your career with special note of your character, scholastic attainments and vocational aptitudes. If you find that your reference displays not-! shing more than “modified rapture” in describing you, you may be sure that a shrewd employer will draw the correct conclusions; on your part, you had better prepare yourself for a disappointment.

At the interview

If you go dressed in the modern sloppy pajama outfit which is so much in vogue today, you can be sure that the outcome will not be to your favour. Suit and tie with polished shoes is the normal dress for such occasions, if you wish to be considered. If you wear a hat, remove it as you enter the office or place of the interview, give the customary greetings and wait until you are asked to be seated. Remember that the impression you make by your manner and deportment in those first few moments can be decisive. During the interview try to make yourself as comfortable as possible. You certainly will not look like big-business-executive material if you teeter on the edge of the chair, mangling your hat between your fingers. Answer questions in a clear, confident voice and look your interviewer in the eye in manly fashion. Use the term “Sir” frequently throughout the interview.

The interviewer may indicate that the interview is concluded by standing up, in which case you stand up immediately, being ready to shake hands. As you say a courteous “Good morning, Sir” and close the door gently behind you, you can only hope that your effort to do the right thing has clinched the deal.