Letters to my orphaned daugther (VIII)

Madrid, 29 de Noviembre de 2016

Buenos días, I.

El otro día me acordaba de una lista de 39 habilidades que, según la revista Contry Life, cualquier jovencito o jovencita inglés debiera saber además de lo que le enseñan en el colegio. Me gustan. Ve preparándote.

Every young man and woman should know how to:

  1. Cook three different dinner party menus.
  2. Say ‘Can you help me please’ in Arabic, Cantonese, Urdu, Spanish and Russian
  3. Play a musical instrument, even if it’s the tom-toms or a mouth organ
  4. Ride a horse to jackaroo standard
  5. Be a ‘tech whisperer’, able to fix and set up the latest techno-gadgets.
  6. Talk about five classics of English literature with authority and passion
  7. Perform resuscitation on someone who has stopped breathing
  8. Know how to grow carrots from seed, distinguish five native trees, identify twenty flowers and arrange a bunch
  9. Handle a shotgun, skin a rabbit, gut a fish and pluck a pigeon
  10. Repair a bicycle puncture and fix the chain
  11. Dance the eightsome reel, waltz to Strauss and bop to Lady Gaga
  12. Taste the difference between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay and know how to mix a mojito or margarita
  13. Write a memorable thank-you letter
  14. Recognise Mozart, Elgar and Handel
  15. Put up a shelf and change a plug
  16. Tie a bow tie, bowline and Bloody Butcher (fishing fly)
  17. Sail a boat across The Solent
  18. Carve a joint of meat
  19. Tell the difference between Gothic, Baroque and Palladian architecture
  20. Make a speech, entertain an audience with a joke or an anecdote, and sing at least two songs by heart
  21. Drive a tractor, reverse a trailer, renew engine oil and change a wheel
  22. Find their way round five capital cities
  23. Host a party and put others at their ease
  24. Sustain a 10-shot rally at tennis
  25. Build a bonfire and lay a fire
  26. Perform three good card tricks
  27. Identify five constellations and find the North Star
  28. Score a cricket match
  29. Talk knowledgeably about five British landmarks
  30. Uncork and pour a bottle of Champagne
  31. Iron a shirt, sew on a button and sew up a hem
  32. Amuse small children for at least an hour with magic tricks and story telling
  33. Read a map, pitch a tent and pack a rucksack
  34. Be authoritatively acquainted with at least one work by da Vinci, Constable, Degas, Turner and Canaletto
  35. Know how to manage a bank account
  36. Slip away from a football riot
  37. Address a member of the Royal Family
  38. Complain effectively but politely in a restaurant
  39. Deliver a lamb

Y para una señorita:

A lady . . .

1 Finds laughter is the best medicine

2 Can say ‘thank you’ no matter where she is in the world

3 Cooks perfect, crispy roast potatoes

4 Offers to split the bill

5 Knows that everyone, including herself, improves with age

6 Offers the builder a cup of tea

7 Excels at making love, lasagne and long gin and tonics

8 Can silence a man with a stare and make a dog lie down with a hand signal—and vice versa

9 Can imitate Piglet and Pooh voices for a bedtime story

10 Prefers Mr Knightley to Mr Wickham, but is secretly in love with Rupert Campbell-Black

11 Never downs a drink in one, unless it’s a shot of tequila

12 Is aware that the school run and dog walking do not require full make-up

13 Never wears shoes she can’t walk in

14 Knows when a man is spoken for

15 Can paunch a rabbit, pluck a pheasant and gut a fish, but allows men the privilege

16 Remembers her godchildren’s birthdays

17 Knows songs for a long car journey

18 Is neither early for a dinner party nor late for church

19 Doesn’t over-pluck her eyebrows

20 Knows how to deflect a lecher with grace, and a proposal with kindness

21 Comforts nervous flyers

22 Would never have Botox

23 Knows when to let a man think it’s his idea

24 Would never own a handbag dog

25 Can tie—and untie—a bow tie

26 Might not understand the rules of rugby and cricket, but enjoys the game anyway

27 Knows when to take control in the bedroom and the boardroom

28 Knows the difference between Bentley & Skinner and Baddiel and Skinner

29 Instills manners in her children, but lets their characters flourish

30 Knows when to deadhead a rose

31 Is never afraid to overdress

32 Can handle a sports car, a sit-on mower and a ski lift

33 Knows when to stop dyeing her hair

34 Teaches her son to iron his shirts and her daughter to change a fuse

35 Owns a little black dress

36 Always has a hanky

37 Knows that ‘brevity is the soul of lingerie’

38 Has kissed several frogs and made them feel like princes

39 However lucky in life, she doesn’t boast on Facebook

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