How Not To Writte… A Wedding RSVP

You’ve heard the heavyweight envelope drop through the letterbox. And you’ve seen the expensive-looking and elaborately designed wedding invitation that lurks within, in all its ornate glory. Now it’s time to reply to that invitation and get your RSVP back to the happy couple. (Ed: for the RSVP virgins out there, RSVP stands for ‘Répondez, s’il vous plait’, which is French for ‘please reply’ – we’re SO continental!).

But beware, replying to a wedding invite isn’t an occasion where a hastily typed ‘I’ll be there with bells on!!’ will suffice. As with all things relating to weddings, there’s a protocol to these things. So here’s how to reply without offending the bride, outraging the groom or starting a family argument over the seating plan.

Do:

  • Be timely. More than anything you need to get your response back promptly and absolutely before the date shown on the invite. Yes we know you’re busy too, sitters to arrange all that, but planning a wedding can be like organising a small well-behaved coup – so give the couple a break and respond quickly.
  • Be clear on who’s coming. If you’re bringing a guest, state who. Even if it’s obvious that it’s your new fella Jeff that you’ve been seeing for 3 months, don’t make the organisers guess whether it’s on or off again.
  • Follow any instructions on the RSVP. If they want you to tick a box, tick a box (Ed;  even though we know you’re not the kind that likes to be put in a box, as your cat Schrodinger keeps reminding you). If it says email someone’s mum, go ahead and email Mildred. If it says good old-fashioned post then, yes, you may need to make a trip to the shops to procure some stamps.

Don’t:

  • Put a list of demands of what you need. You’re a guest, it’s nice that you’ve been invited.  If you have certain dietary needs just state them clearly, but don’t insist on organic locally sourced free-range hummus. It’s their wedding, not yours.
  • Try and weasel in extra guests. Be it your children or Great Auntie Betty from the outer Hebrides. The couple have taken a long time planning their numbers and have a budget they need to stick to. If it honestly clashes with something else, then just say so and regretfully decline. The last thing a couple needs in the run-up is you begging to bring extra people along, remember you’re not the only guest who might be in this predicament.
  • Go, if you don’t want to. If you’re really not keen on the couple then don’t attend, just be polite, return your ‘no’ and leave them be. Very few couples will moan that their guest list is smaller.
  • Get uppity, if you’ve clearly been put on a reserve list. Remember, in most instances, that family and close friends come first, then work colleagues, then George the friendly butcher. Don’t be put out – and if you are, don’t say so, just decline. (Ed: And if you’re George, please bring sausages).

If you’re a happy bride/groom reading this and worrying about how to write the perfect wedding invitation, we’ve got all the dos and don’ts you need here.

How Not To Writte… A Political Manifesto

As you may have noticed from the wall-to-wall TV debates, never-ending media coverage and eager canvassing in the high street, there’s a general election taking place in the UK on 8 June. We’ve heard a lot of election promises, a lot of denouncing of other parties and their MPs and (on the whole) an awful lot of hot air from many of the candidates.

But if your party is going to convince the electorate to vote for you, you’re gonna need to get your promises, pledges and predictions down into a proper document and not just the back of a fag packet. That means rolling up your writing sleeves, finding the best biro in Westminster and writing a manifesto that sets out your vision for the future of the country, and makes your underlying political ideology clear to us, the already voting fatigued masses.

So, how do you get that manifesto on point? Here’s the dos and don’ts…

Do:

  • Bag the best biro in Westminster. This will be difficult with all the stationery budget cuts and Peggy’s tight grip on the hidden chamber of pens, but you can do it.
  • Set out the key foundations of your political beliefs. This is your soapbox (or eco-friendly cleaning product recyclable platform of choice) for explaining the core values and beliefs of your party, so make it concise, simple and to the point. It’s a chance to get your target voters on board and singing your praises from the rafters (and Wetherspoons), so make sure you grab the opportunity with both hands!
  • Put your big ideas right at the start of the manifesto. No-one, apart from political journalists, will read every word of it, so make sure you capture people’s attention as quickly as possible.
  • Use plain English and explain your ideas clearly. You’re not writing this for the Westminster clique, or the supporters in your own party: you’re writing this for the person in the street. So keep the language clear and unflowery and make sure that ‘Doris, 87, Burnley’ and ‘Sunny, 18, Uttoxeter’ have as much and idea about your policy on education as Tarquin and Tabitha, your research assistants.

Don’t:

  • Fill your manifesto full of lies and half-truths. The electorate are not quite as dozy and complacent as you’d like to think. If you’re going to make a claim or quote a statistic it needs to have the source quoted and it needs to stand up to some scrutiny. That goes for radio interviews and sides of buses alike.
  • Spend more time on the branding of the party and the press marketing than on the ideas contained in the manifesto. Yes, it’s important that the document looks engaging and makes the average punter want to read it, but if the pledges inside are a pile of undiluted hogwash then you’re rather wasting your time.
  • Try to write a sequel to War & Peace. Detail is good, a breakdown of the finances and funding is excellent, but don’t make it so long that people are loath to even pick it up. In the digital age, attention spans are short, so keep it readable and to the point.
  • Don’t include a photo of your illustrious leader kissing a baby/shaking hands with a construction worker/eating a bacon sandwich. They never pan out well and most of us seasoned voters can sniff out these PR photo opportunity before you can say ‘Jacob Rhys-Mogg in a hard hat’.
  • Slag off your opponents. It makes you look cheap and bitchy. Concentrate on your values and your plans – let the others dig their own holes with their hot air and diversionary tactics.

How Not To Writte… A Note To Your Flatmate

If you’ve ever lived in a flatshare, student halls or a communal house, then you’ll be VERY familiar with the situation of your food ‘mysteriously’ disappearing in the night (and your flatmate being equally mysteriously covered in crumbs the next morning).

So when someone steals your cheese, or nibbles on your leftover sausage (Ed: easy, tiger!), we all know there’s only one course of action to take – and that’s writing a hugely passive aggressive note to your food-snaffling flatmate on your own choice of brightly coloured Post-it.

Do:

  • Calmly express that you wish to discuss the current ‘missing food’ situation, without any accusations being thrown about, with a view to reaching a mutually agreeable compromise.
  • Express in clear terms which item, or items, of food you believe they are ‘misappropriating’, how much said foodstuff cost you and how much you were looking forward to that last slice of leftover frittata.
  • Offer to buy said items for them in the weekly shop, so you can both enjoy the taste experience without any ill feeling – as long as they come up with some spondoolies to cover the cost of having to re-buy the item.
  • Suggest a house/flat meeting to discuss division of food stuffs, and suggest perhaps generic foodstuffs that you both/all enjoys are brought out of a household kitty (the financial kind, we don’t condone using the house cat as a rudimentary .

Don’t:

  • Write ‘You bloody cock womble, you’ve eaten all of my bloody frittata again. Right, that’s it, I’m hiding the loo roll!!!!’ as this will undoubtedly aggravate the situation further (and will also mean you have to carry your loo roll around with you at all times).
  • Change the house Wi-Fi network name to ‘youfrittatastealinbastard’ in a fit of pique and refuse to let the food kleptomaniac know the password. This may well be a great feat of revenge, but will also royally piss of everyone else in the house.
  • Write a vengeful status update on Facebook/Twitter/Insta calling your hungry housemate the spawn of Satan as this will almost certainly be read by a mutual acquaintance who will @mention them, landing you in a whole pile of donkey doo.
  • Forget that food can always be bought again, but that the happy vibe in your house is more difficult to replace…so try to resolve the food situation as peacefully as possible (or wait till there’s something really nice of theirs in the fridge and hide it).