Tyne O'Connell fencing in St James's Square London

The Enemies of Charm & Humour: Politics & Strident Opinions

The first thing to remember is how ever passionately we feel about our opinions, no one else does unless they agree wholeheartedly and even then you can be sure they’d rather put their own spin on the topic. Besides as any thinking dandizette knows; vacillation is thrilling and smart girls not only change their underwear regularly but they also change their minds.

Politics, religion and opinions are about freedom of choice and a private affair for the ballot box and confessional, not for boring guests and friends who are seeking frivolous amusements. A rule of thumb when discoursing on politics or religion: if you have a view you wish to air make sure you put an amusing spin on it and only air it when certain it will add to the hilarity of the occasion.

For example, if your friend loves fur and you’re a paid up member of PETA be gracious when you see her in a new mink. Remember what your grandmama said “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”. You may feel she is callous but you will not persuade her to trade her mink by diminishing her or attacking her morals, her taste or her freedom to make choices you disagree with.

Zealots, puritans and evangelicals have no place at social events if they lack the ability to laugh at themselves and acknowledge they may be wrong.

Always be gracious. Always be charming. No one likes a bossy, self opinionated bore.

If a political argument should flare up at your party, or one guest takes a strident opinion for a stroll over another guest’s feelings, that’s the time to ask for compliments on your new hairstyle or suggest the over opinionated guest take charge of the wine, or help with the serving. Another ploy I have used is to clap my hands gleefully and suddenly announce, “Lets play a parlour game!”

The Georgians and Victorians invented party games to avoid awkwardness and kerfuffles amongst guests. Sardines is best for getting rid of an argumentative guest. Americans refer to it as Hide & Seek. Of course the troublesome guest is “It”.

Should a brouhaha break out at your party, ask guests to pair up and do a 3 minute performance or skit. They can prepare in the cloak room. Those who refuse forfeit their desert or champagne. If they are really naughty, you can spice it up by limiting each pairing to one item of clothing plus a hat.

Embarrassment is a great political leveller.

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