The age of chivalry is not only past but flogged, shot and beaten to a pulp. Men do not know how to court women and women do not know how to be courted. But all is not lost.

Words are powerful, and since my readership runs into the hundreds of thousands, I do believe that the below declaration will start the process of reintroducing proper courtship that will lead to decent and proper marriage proposals. I could also offer solutions to more robust marriages. However, I do not have the space today to go into the finesse of matrimonial martial arts, cranial and coital canvassing and mysterious masticating movements. These are not metaphors.

Now, to get back to courtship. I thank my lucky stars that I am a happily married woman past the stage of courtship. Of course, this does not mean that a man must ever stop courting his wife. Indeed, my Raymond Mannersworth continues to surprise me, be it with broomsticks, rice plantations or silk culottes, but I shall save those details for another little literary project I’m working on.

We need to talk about the way we date, or do not date, for that matter. While I do not go on such encounters, I’m dutifully informed by my dear friend Tabitha Triumphant, currently single and in search of a gentleman friend (and should any contender be reading this, may I highly recommend Tabitha, who knows the true meaning of flambé).

Following yet another disastrous encounter with a man (called Goatherd might I add, which should have set off her alarm bells, but sadly the batteries had run out earlier that day), Tabitha and I have put together a few pointers for the ladies and gentlemen who date or are looking to date.

I gave Mr Mannersworth a fleet of dancing unicorns and he still, to this day, brags to his friends

The Victorians really knew what they were doing when it came to courting. Courtship was fundamental to the process of falling in love. It still is. How to do this? Get out your phone, place it on the table and smash it hard with the chisel hammer you keep at easy arm’s length in your drawer. While you’re at it, smash away all technology that connects to the internet. The results will be remarkable. You will not look up each other’s names online and thus will not know what the other did the previous day, or that he or she had ridden her horse bareback over the weekend. You will have to talk to each other and elicit such answers. The fact that you will not have your phones placed next to your cutlery will also allow you to engage in staring into each other’s eyes and actually having a conversation rather than sending each other texts over your rare sirloin steaks.

A fellow believer in proper etiquette – Julie Lessels – rightly states that for the “stream of matrimony” to be ventured upon, an essential partner must possess these qualities: accomplished manners, be an amiable person, have an unblemished reputation and “a mind stored with virtuous principles”. Once this is determined, then they can proceed with the proposal process. I have no issues with who does the proposing. While being amiable or having an unblemished reputation is not something one is able to change in another, manners are. I remember succeeding in getting Raymond to stop biting his nails at table by offering him a peek at my ferret collection for each nail-biting-free meal.

It is best for the gentleman to propose in person, although some gentlemen write the proposal in a letter. Once the other consents, the accepted suitor gives an engagement ring, and this should be as handsome a present as he can afford to buy. I gave Mr Mannersworth a fleet of dancing unicorns and he still, to this day, brags to his friends at the toenail appreciation society about what a great gift that was.

* Mrs Tilly Mannersworth is Veronica Stivala’s alter-ego. Any reference to persons, living or dead, or actual events, is slightly intentional.


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