Friday, 18 March 2016

The Lady Guide to Modern Manners: 18 March

Worried your Easter egg hunt could leave you with egg on your face? Thomas Blaikie offers some cracking advice…

Written by Thomas Blaikie
Dear Thomas,
Last year I arranged an Easter egg hunt for family and neighbours, but it all went badly wrong. I was even criticised as not politically correct. But I’m determined to have another go this year. Do you have any advice?
April Cornish, Wallingford

Dear April,
I’m glad you’re not giving up. An Easter egg hunt might have many pitfalls, but lack of political correctness? Maybe someone objected to the property-acquiring, capitalist aspect, or felt that it’s something for nothing with overtones of colonisation… Well, really, don’t let nonsense of this kind stand in your way. An Easter egg hunt is a charming tradition, although requiring a largish area of garden or park in which to have it.

The hunt should be timed to coincide with Easter tea on either Easter Saturday, Sunday or Monday. Not Good Friday, obviously. Be warned that in many villages, an Easter duck race might clash with your hunt if it’s on Easter Monday. On the other hand, if you’ve got access to a fast-moving stream (but not too fast) and no one has planned an Easter duck race, this might be a good alternative plan if you haven’t got enough space for a hunt.

The duck race is like Poohsticks. Contestants place their plastic ducks on the starting line in the stream, and off they go. Some will never be seen again, but enough will reach the finish. Make sure the judges know what they’re doing.

Back to Easter egg hunts. They are for children, of course. In Old Colorado City, the 2011 community egg hunt was a disaster. ‘Helicopter’ parents jumped the boundary ropes to ensure their children triumphed: ‘The hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of eggless tots and rule-abiding parents.’ Next year the hunt was cancelled.

But adults should intervene if smaller children have failed to find an egg, and it is best to hide the treasure in flat grass for them. Older children should be given a more challenging hunting ground. Be strict about how many eggs each child may collect and ensure each can find this number. As in Alice In Wonderland, at an Easter egg hunt all participants ‘win’ and get a prize. Those who hit the jackpot early could be encouraged to help those less fortunate, although assistance might not always be welcome.

Unfortunately there is often one tearful young person left at the end without an egg. Make sure you have a back-up supply in case anyone has cheated, and deploy cunning to make sure that last child finds an egg. Adult assistants at the hunt can wear gay Easter bonnets, trimmed with primroses and violets.

Please send your questions to thomas.blaikie@lady.co.uk or write to him at The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ER

What to do about… Clean For The Queen

An awful fuss about this. ‘We’re not housemaids,’ protesters shrieked. Over the weekend of 5-6 March, volunteer groups were encouraged to pick up litter in their communities. The aim is to get the country tidied up for the Queen’s 90th birthday in April and the official celebrations in June. It isn’t entirely clear if the campaign is to continue or the intention was just to provide an initial stimulus. Michele Hanson of The Guardian, among others, thinks that councils (ie, the taxpayer) should fund proper cleansing operations. Why should we have to do it?

Fortunately, in the event, Clean for the Queen was a success. In many places, where voluntary groups pick up litter regularly anyway, numbers are substantially up, due to the Queen element. Where I live, council road sweepers do come round, but they can’t possibly stay on top of the problem. Community action is the only hope. Sometimes my street is a disgrace. I’m afraid I’ve no time for people who think it’s beneath them to pick up litter. They get the environment they deserve.


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