(For the Socially Unfortunate)

by Hyacinth Bucket.


How this Book Came About

If you’ve the good fortune to be reading this book, I’m sure you’ll enjoy knowing how it came about.  It started quite simply, with a brilliant idea.  The sort of idea that comes to me frequently in the middle of the night and wakes me up (and Richard too!) from a sound slumber.  We’d only been asleep for an hour or so, after a very exciting evening in which I had been the perfect hostess to a select group of our special friends at one of my Candlelight Suppers (See Chapter Six: THE CANDLELIGHT SUPPER), for which I am famous, locally.

I awoke with a start.  The words “famous, locally” were flashing like a beacon in my mind’s eye.  ‘Richard!’ I said.  ‘I’ve just had a wonderful idea!’  Richard was not as excited as one would wish but then he knows I don’t like him getting excited that time of the night anyway, especially when I’ve just that day ironed his pyjamas.

Anyway, with thoughts of my most recent superlative social success swimming around in my head, and the words “famous, locally” sparkling as incandescently as my marcasite brooch, a plan began to formulate itself whereby I could share my talents with a larger audience of socially unfortunate persons.  I told Richard, I said, ‘I feel it’s a duty on my part.  Good taste is so very rare these days.  There’s a whole world out there in need of my advice!  Yes, dear, it’s my duty to share my impeccable taste for a well-laid table.  I’m thinking in terms of a career, Richard.  Only it’s not just a career.  In my own small way I shall begin to advise and educate the nation in the art of gracious living – everything connected with social etiquette and gracious entertaining – everything from how to lay a table in the manner of your social betters to advice on menus for the unimaginative – the kinds of things people experience at my Candlelight Suppers! (See Chapter Six: THE CANDLELIGHT SUPPER).

‘I shall also advise, of course, on appropriate music for elegant soirees and I know just the person to help me there – Emmet!  He’ll be thrilled.  Perhaps on special occasions the two of us could perform.  Oh Richard!  I want this whole thing to be stately and gracious.’

I placed a small, elegant, and tasteful advert in our local paper:  Scintillating Socializing.  I myself being the Senior Soiree Staff Supervisor of course.  My first clients were twenty people all wanting to improve their social graces.  They invited me to bring my own music.  I went off to organise their requirements with high hopes, but it seems they’d misread my advert.  Apparently, they'd expected some other sort of entertainment. But there’s no need to go into details here about that.

The best of it is that's what decided me to write HYACINTH BUCKET’S BOOK OF BETTER-CLASS BRITISH COOKERY (For the Socially Unfortunate).  It’s so much safer, writing a book.  I expect I shall become the Barbara Cartland of the West Midlands Social Circuit Scene!

So read on, Dears.  You're in for a treat!  And I'm sure you'll learn something  you didn’t know before!

Please turn the page to Chapter One: FIRST THINGS FIRST: SETTING THE STAGE