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Accustomed as I am... (or should be)

10 Jul 10 | Re: An essential social skill

How disappointing it is when, at a birthday or another social event, someone is called upon to give a speech and flatly refuses, or just says a ten-second thankyou and sits down again. And how delightful it is when the person rises to the occasion and obliges the guests with a few minutes of engaging, off-the-cuff talk. Is it going too far to suggest that social speech-giving is something that everyone should be able to do, like eating with a knife and fork or opening a bottle of bubbly? It’s all very well saying that you don’t like speaking in public, but sometimes the occasion demands it - so step up!

Certainly if I am lucky enough to be blessed with children, or godchildren, or nephews or nieces or any other youngsters who I am allowed any influence over, I’m going to do my best to bring them up properly, and that’s going to include speech-giving. From a young age, all birthdays, Christmases and other special occasions are going to involve speeches, and participation will be mandatory from the age of about five or six. Of course, there is the chance that they’ll look back on this policy as some kind of excruciating ordeal. There will also be the fateful day when they go to someone else’s birthday party and realise that their own experience of what is customary, and by extension their family in general, may not be entirely normal. But they will thank me when they start going to dinners of their own, and their valuable experience makes them the toast of the party. That’s the kind of tough parenting that society doesn’t get enough of these days. People who can’t use a knife and fork. People who can’t tie their shoelaces. People who can’t give a basic speech. What a world this is.

Posted by HANSEL at 17:51

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