So it’s lucky for me that I have at hand a copy of Amy Vanderbilt‘s Complete Book of Etiquette: A Guide To Gracious Living (Doubleday, 1953).
This handsome and generous volume, featuring illustrations by the young Andy Warhol, contains a marvellous array of completely useless advice, from instructions on what to do should you have an audience with the Pope right through to what to do with the obnoxious guest.
“Best of all is to give the arguer something to do. If you have a game room, get someone to take him on at table tennis”, advises Amy.
Simple, isn’t it?
Amy is also fairly comprehensive in listing the range of ‘appointments’ to be found in the guest room of the well-appointed house. The following can be taken as a listing of the minimal requirements when hosting an overnight guest or weekend visitor:
Face towel, wash cloth, bath towel, soap
Razor, shaving cream, clean brush and comb
Adequate bed clothes – more than adequate if there’s any doubt
A bed light for reading
Current magazines, a mystery or any preferred bedtime reading
Facial tissues, cold cream, toothbrush and toothpaste
Enough pillows to permit reading in bed
Cigarettes and ashtrays, though put your foot down about in-bed smoking
Hangers for clothes, including trouser-skirt hangers
A bedtime snack
(Offer it anyhow but a dish of fruit, a plate, knife, and a paper napkin add cheer on a bed table)
Now, I think I’ve got most of those things covered, except for the last 85% or so. That’s why I’m thinking instead of going all the way and kitting out our guest room according to Amy’s supplementary list, which contains the following bonus accoutrements:
Free drawer space, enough of it so a weekend guest needn’t dress from his bags
Shoe racks and trees, hat boxes or stands, clothes brush, spot remover, sewing kit
A well-equipped shoe cleaning box
A plug-in radio
Writing equipment of all kinds, including post cards
Hamper or laundry bag
Drop-down ironing board and folding iron
Luggage rack and bed tray
Aspirin, milk of magnesia
“Don’t Disturb” sign
An electric hot pad or hot water bottle
If anyone happens to have any of these items in their possession, please let me know – I’d be happy to come to some kind of arrangement, but you’ll need to be quick.