Sunday, 2 January 2011

How to Make Small Talk

A cut out and keep guide

At this time of year, most of us have been afflicted with relatives, family gatherings, work dos, various social occasions and - let's face it - they are Hell.

So, over the course of this Festive Season, I have put rather a lot of effort into finding the perfect way to make small talk - in order to make the relatives et al less hellish.
There is the old maxim that in mixed company one must never discuss politics, religion or something else (I forget which). Having forgotten - or ignored -  (honestly, my thingummy is bobbins) that rule of late, I am at one with Mr. Twain:

'I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.'

Besides, this Coalition nonsense has muddied the waters somewhat. Are they Liberals? Are they - boo, hiss - Tories in Woolly Liberals' clothing?

One throwaway remark about Mick Clogg being a Dishonorable Gentleman and suddenly half the room is cutting one dead. (Which at Christmas Luncheon is not a Good Thing.)

Now to the tried and trusted methods  - all of which have been thoroughly tried by your - ahem - Small Talk Specialist (Patent Pending).

These are opening gambits, work excellently on an intimate level - à deux - or can be proclaimed with confidence to a room crowded with strangers.

Bourbon Biscuits? Why?
There is no need to add to this statement. The debate will rage for hours.

Is there ever a place for pineapple on a pizza?
As above. (N.B. This conversation can take a turn for the worse unless you manage it carefully.)

- and that was when she found out he'd been having an affair with a Brazilian prostitute!
Initially, there will be a shocked silence, but stay with it. After a moment or so, everyone will want to know the details.

Three snippets of speech - voilà! - all you will ever need to traverse the travails of the Social Gathering. Abandon any chatter about weather, TV talent shows, or recent books read. And please do let me know how you get on.

Note, there is no charge for my excellent advice - my being possessed of a kind and generous soul. (Mick Clogg excepted).

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