by Tom Ough, The Daily Telegraph, August 25, 2017
If you're reading this while dining at a restaurant, well, you're beyond help. But the rest of us can take note: pollsters have identified 35 of the most inexcusable eating-out faux-pas, and, bloody hell, Brits, this is shameful stuff.
Number one on the list? Clicking fingers for the waiter's attention (rude). Two: talking with a full mouth (gross). The third on the list is "being too loud and raucous", which at least suggests that someone – if not the poll's joyless respondents – is having fun, but we can all agree that wiping hands on the tablecloth (no 4) and blowing your nose in a napkin (no 5) are objectively unhygienic, depending, possibly, on the nose-blowing alternatives.
So vile are our national eating habits that the researchers found that 60 per cent of Britons have been disgusted by a date, work colleague or family member's dining-out table manners. (The remaining 40 per cent: are you exceptionally tolerant of bad manners, or are "manners" an alien concept? Let's discuss, but not over a meal.)
There is more. More than one in ten (11 per cent) of the 1,500 respondents admitted they have been embarrassed by their partner’s behaviour in a restaurant, and ten per cent felt the need to apologise on behalf of their own ill-mannered parents. Indeed, three in ten (29 percent) have even been forced to apologise to staff for one of their fellow diners’ etiquette, the poll by Fourth found.
Interestingly, this is slightly less than the proportion of respondents who have had to endure a really drunk member of their party. Who among you has found a drunkard bad enough to (i) remember and (ii) whinge about to a clipboard-holder, but still not quite bad enough to merit an apology to waiting staff?
Anyway, nobody is whiter than white (least of all the smeared tablecloths) and the respondents themselves owned up to – gadzooks! – asking for ketchup in a smart restaurant (13 per cent), complaining to staff because the red wine was warm (five per cent, but they might not be wrong ), and even (five per cent again... the same five per cent?) mistaking a finger bowl meant for washing their sticky hands as a ‘fancy clear soup’.
Don't blame the parents. Respondents remembered being trained as children not to speak with their mouth full, to keep their elbows off the table, and to place their knife and fork together when after finishing a meal.
But as many as 32 percent of adults felt that some table manners seemed old-fashioned now, with 39 percent saying it's fine to use your phone at the table provided it’s just once or twice.
Nearly one in ten went as far to say that it would be virtually impossible to sit and eat a meal without using their smart phone. A quarter said it would be acceptable to turn to your mobile if you needed to Google something from the menu, and 41 percent said it would be fine to use the calculator feature in order to work out how to split the bill. Oh, and one in five – it's definitely more than that – said it’s perfectly okay nowadays to upload a picture of your meal to social media.
You horrible, horrible lot. From now on I'm getting takeaway.