Carolyn Burne, a very proper and manners-focused English woman, probably did not expect her email to her future daughter-in-law, Heidi Winters, to go viral. Most email correspondences don't, after all; it's just some random person's random message to some other random person, after all. Which is probably why she felt so free to be so terrible and snobbish while schooling Heidi on her manners. Which is why the email has blown up to appear in several legitimate U.K. papers (and the Daily Mail). I have no idea why this email, out of all in the world, has gotten huge, but it is an amusing and kind of horrifying read. Here's the most complete version of the missive:
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
- When you are a guest in another’s house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
- When a guest in another’s house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
- You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
- You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
- You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
- No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters’ marriages.)
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
Oh man, I bet Christmas is going to be super fun for all involved!
When I first read this letter, I kind of thought Carolyn might have a point at certain moments: mostly the first point, which sounds like the kind of annoying table manners that, well, annoy me. Just try and be gracious to your hosts, you know? But then I realized that I can't trust the word picture this woman is painting with her anger words at all, because she says things like "Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you" and "there are plenty of finishing schools around."
And if we're talking about manners, isn't kind of uncouth to mock someone's parents for their financial status? (Which she does, even though she pretends not to.) Or to, you know, send an email like this in the first place? Whatever happened to good old shit talking behind someone's back? That's how a truly traditional family takes care of these things, Carolyn.