Monthly Archives: July 2014

Bus etiquette

This post was inspired by a Tweet from one of my favourite sources of British customs, VeryBritishProblems (@SoVeryBritish). 


I found this particular Tweet very funny, only because it’s so true! If the person before me forgets to thank the driver, I say my ‘THANK YOU!’ louder than I normally would, so the driver knows he or she is especially appreciated. I hope this post will help make every part of your bus journey more pleasant.

Where I live, the buses are colour coded based on their routes. Photo from

The Driver
I am very lucky, where I live, there is a good bus service and the drivers are always so nice. Have your money or bus pass ready before you get on. This would avoid unnecessary waiting with the driver awkwardly staring at you.
Smile and greet your driver with a kind ‘Hello’. Of course, give a cheerful ‘Cheers!’ as you alight.

Other Passengers
Don’t sit next to other passengers if there are empty seats available; 
it is very strange to do so. There are exceptions to this, for instance, if sitting on the back of the bus gives you motion sickness.
If it’s busy, do take the seat furthest from the aisle, thus sparing other passengers from having to ask you to move. Avoid placing your handbag or shopping on the seat next to you when the bus is very busy.

Imagine sitting next to her on the bus! Clip from Taylor Swift’s ‘Ours’.

Giving up your seat
Do give your seat to those less able to stand, the elderly, very young children and pregnant women.
My friend Raúl believes it’s impolite to let a lady stand. On a recent holiday to Seoul, he  gave his seat to a lady, who then repeatedly bowed to him in thanks, as per their custom. It was a little sweet to see how people from different cultures respond.

London buses. Photo from

Double-decker buses and the stairs
I love how ubiquitous double-decker buses are to the UK. ‘Ladies first,’ said a kindly man as we wait to go down the stairs. Going down the stairs is one of the very rare times when it is NOT “ladies first”. A gentleman always goes down the stairs before a lady. This is so if the lady misses a step, the gentleman can lightly hold her by the elbow and prevent her from falling. Gentlemen, it is important to note, only do this if you know the girl. It’s more acceptable nowadays to help a lady after a fall than to stand guard just in case she does.



The proper way to eat fish when served whole

One of the most popular posts in this blog is the piece on how to eat messy food. This current  post focuses on fish and was inspired by Robert Galbraith’s (J. K. Rowling) latest crime fiction novel, The Silkworm. One of the characters, Jerry Waldegrave ordered Dover sole, which the chef served whole. He immediately regretted ordering the fish, as he could not manage to get past the bone.

The Silkworm. The inspiration for this post

The Silkworm. The inspiration for this post

It is easy enough to eat fish when it is served in delicious morsels such as these:

People find it daunting to have fish when it is served whole like Nigella’s Red Mullet or a classic French Sole Meunière. It is great to serve whole fish at dinner parties; it is abundant, the very opposite of meagre. For this reason, it is one of the dishes commonly served during Chinese New Year.

Red Mullet with Sweet and Sour Shredded Salad from Nigella Summer

Red Mullet with Sweet and Sour Shredded Salad from Nigella Summer

The fish knife
You may be provided with a fish knife, depending on how formal the setting. Fish knives are specially shaped with a dull edge and a notched point. It is so designed to easily lift the bone and separate the meat.
Incidentally, I was informed that one can tell if a family is nouveau riche if their silverware contains a fish knife. This is because a fish knife is one of the newer inventions, and so would not be found in an heirloom silverware set. In any case, I am here to explain the proper way to eat fish served whole, with or without a fish knife.

Fish knife from Maxwell Williams

Fish knife from Maxwell Williams

Eating fish
Eat the top fillet was you normally would, starting from the head and working down. Only a small mouthful of a piece must be taken at a time. Fish must never be flipped. To get to the underside, the bone should be lifted up and  the meat eased out. Unless you are in your own home, leave the head and tail intact. Rebel at your own discretion.

Bon appétit,

Spain’s two kings: how to address a former monarch

A commentary on the forms of address for former monarchs.

A week and a half ago, the Crown Prince of Spain formally acceded to the throne following the abdication of his father, thus becoming King Felipe VI. Although no longer “The King of Spain”, King Juan Carlos, never stops being a king, of course. What he has done is resign from his job; he is no longer the reigning monarch.

From left: Queen Letizia, King Felipe VI, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos. Photo from The Telegraph

From left: Queen Letizia, King Felipe VI, Queen Sofía and King Juan Carlos. Photo from The Telegraph

In the last year, three monarchs and a pope have abdicated in favour of the next generation. The Dutch and The Belgians have new Kings, and Qatar has a new Emir.

Former monarchs are often afforded the same title and style they had during their reign. Thus, King Juan Carlos is referred to as His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, and his wife remains Her Majesty Queen Sofía of Spain.

For many reasons, including political, Britain’s Edward VIII was made a royal duke, HRH The Duke of Windsor when he abdicated in 1936. Do keep an eye out for my future post on the forms of address of the British royal family.

At your service,