I am provoked to this post by 'SoD' who, in a comment down below somewhere, reminded me of this story in The Telegraph in which Maj. Gen. James Cowan, commander of 3 Division, is reported to have torn his junior officers off a strip for the sort of 'gruntish' behaviour in the Officers' mess which would normally be considered more suitable in the Corporals' mess. He was appalled, I tell you, appalled, that officers were to be seen eating hand-held foodstuffs such as sandwiches or rolls, and that at a Burns Night dinner, officers were seated next to their wives. Shockin' - shockin'! He also deplored the fact that not only were very few of his officers capable of conducting an intelligent conversation, many of them could not even hold a knife and fork properly!
My first, instinctive, thought was - what a plonker! My second, and almost instantaneous, was - good for you, General! The decline and fall of any empire nearly always goes hand-in-hand with a decline in social graces, thus has it been for us. An inability to engage in a wide-ranging conversation indicates a narrow mind, and an inability to hold your knife and fork properly indicates a lack of observational skills. Neither attribute is what one expects to find in an officer. But of course, the whole thing goes far beyond Maj. Gen. Cowan's officers' mess, it reaches the top strata of our society where egalitarianism rules the roost and anything goes - so long as you can pay for it! The best restaurants in the land are full of people you would wish to avoid even in your local's public bar!
As it happens, I just popped downstairs to make a coffee and there on my TV was Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassador to Ukraine speaking - well, waffling on uncontrollably, actually - dressed in a casual shirt, no tie and sleeves rolled up as though he had just popped in from doing a bit of gardening. The fact that he was mostly talking utter tripe may or may not have been his fault, he is, after all, 'Dim Dave's sock-puppet. Even so, dammit, he could have worn a tie and a jacket and tried to look the part!
I should add that I failed my Officer Selection course but then, nobody told me that picking your nose was considered a tad infra dig!