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Archive for August, 2008

Smelling vaguely of gin, cheroots and musty horse stables, Great Aunt Maude sways gently on the edge of the gathering as she prepares to ensnare her next victim for a quick lecture about “that ghastly Mr Brown”.

Everybody makes the mistake of trying to avoid Great Aunt Maude at the Christening party, when in fact the best policy is attack …

Like all the best military commanders, Great Aunt Maude relies on surprise. When you think she’s going to lead with the “too many immigrants” gambit, she outflanks you with “I don’t think the baby’s mother was as ugly as that when she was that age …”, you are prepared for “what a pity your father was such a failure at business”, when she surprises you with “what an amusing Christening, where did they find the alcoholic vicar”.

Although she would never admit it, Great Aunt Maude is pleased to have been included at the Christening. In fact, much to her surprise, she quite enjoys spending time with the family. So greet her warmly, ask solicitously about her pet dachshund and offer to find her another gin. Such unaccustomed kindness will certainly redirect the bile and possibly improve your position in the old inheritance stakes … so everyone’s happy.

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Standing up in front of a large group of people can be nerve-wracking for the best of us, but beware of the aftermath of making a Christening speech.

You’ve tried to be a touch witty, you’ve injected a bit of emotion, reflected on the world in which the wee little sausage will grow up and, with any luck, left the assembled company with a warm glow of hope about the future. With a hearty slap on the back you retire to the drinks table with the sense of a job well done.

The adrenaline is still pumping, so you knock back the first couple of glasses like a Cossack at the Vodka Olympics before returning to the party to glad-hand your admirers … Do not at this point ask to hold your new godson and wittily, as ever, stick a cigar in his mouth “because he looks just like Winston Churchill” …

… It’s amazing how quickly that golden glow fades.

See Christening Toasts for more ideas

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Some more thoughts on that all important speech (see August 15th) … before you disappear into the corner for a fortifying snifter of medium dry sherry:

5) If it’s a girl, do not fall into an easy trap … beware of the old chestnut “Let’s hope she ends up with her mother’s looks and her father’s brains and let’s pray she doesn’t end up with the opposite” … the silence will be deafening. In these politically correct times, where women wear the trousers and us chaps aren’t allowed to leave the seat up after having a pee, the only acceptable variation of this line is:

“Little Chloe will be blessed if she ends up with the good looks of her mother and the intelligence of … her mother… ” howls of laughter, Germaine Greer feels vindicated and all the chaps understand completely where you are coming from.

Now you can retire for that medium dry sherry and get collared by Great Aunt Maude and her stole made from a dead fox.

See Christening Toasts for more ideas

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I’m afraid I’ve got a bit lazy when it comes dishing out the pressies at a Christening. Having found something I like, I usually stick with it. And this is the Christening present I give my godsons on the big day:

Sterling Silver Cups make great Christening gifts for boys

Nice isn’t it.

Buying for a boy is never easy. There’s loads to choose from for girls, with jewellery coming top of the list, but boys are different. You might consider some engraved cufflinks or fall back on such staples as napkin rings or an egg cup, but for me a tankard or cup fits the bill perfectly

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Even if you haven’t been asked to give a speech as a godparent, it’s worth having a few thoughts up your sleeve. I speak from bitter experience, having been asked to “say a few words” by my new godson’s father only minutes before the toast. Suffice it to say, I made a complete hash of it. So here are a few pointers:

1) Thanks always go down well with: Vicar/priest, caterers, parents, grandparents, relatives and friends who have travelled so far …

2) You are honoured at being asked to be the little blighter’s godparent and hope that you will live up to the task.

3) The said little blighter is damn lucky to have such wonderful parents (and haven’t they done a great job so far)

4) Propose a toast for the wee bundle of joy … “Wealth, Health and Happiness” always gets a satisfactory round of applause.

Retire to corner of room and have a snifter.

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OK, so Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has got 30 Godchildren.

I thought this might be a good place to start – if only because the names are so enticing … here we go:

THE QUEEN’S GODSONS

Guy Nevill – son of Lord Rupert Nevill and Lady Camilla Wallop
Christening in 1945

Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia – son of Peter II, King of Yugoslavia and Princess Alexandra of Greece
Christening in 1945

Charles Strachey, 4th Baron O’Hagan – son of Major the Honourable Anthony Strachey and Lady Mary Palmer
Christening in 1945

Julian Hardinge, 4th Baron Hardinge of Penhurst – son of George Hardinge, 3rd Baron Hardinge of Penhurst and Janet Balfour
Christening in 1945

Edward Hay – son of Sir Philip Hay and Margaret Seymour
Christening in 1950

Honourable Michael Knatchbull – son of John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne and Patricia Mountbatten, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma
Christening in 1950

David Hall – son of Roger Hall and Audrey Mary Wheeler
Christening in 1950

Viscount Lascelles – son of George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood and Marion Stein
Christening in 1950

Henry Percy, 11th Duke of Northumberland – son of Hugh Percy, 10th Duke of Northumberland and Lady Elizabeth Montagu-Douglas-Scott
Christening in 1953

Christopher Abel Smith – son of Brigadier Sir Alexander Abel Smith and Henriette Cadogan
Christening in 1954

George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon – son of Henry Herbert, 7th Earl of Carnarvon and Jean Wallop
Christening in 1956

George Leveson-Gower, 6th Earl Granville son of James Leveson-Gower, 5th Earl Granville and Doon Plunket
Christening in 1959

Honourable James Hussey – son of Marmaduke Hussey, Baron Hussey and Lady Susan Waldegrave
Christening in 1961

Viscount Linley – son of Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon and HRH Princess Margaret of Great Britain
Christening in 1961

James Ogilvy – son of Right Honourable Sir Angus Ogilvy and HRH Princess Alexandra of Great Britain
Christening in 1964

Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer – son of John Spencer, 8th Earl Spencer and Honourable Frances Burke Roche
Christening in 1964

THE QUEEN’S GODDAUGHTERS

Lavinia King – daughter of Lieutenant-Commander James King and Honourable Elizabeth White
Christening in 1946

Rosemary Elphinstone – daughter of Reverend the Honourable Andrew Elphinstone and Jean Hambro
Christening in 1947

Sandra Butter – daughter of Major Sir David Butter and Myra Wernher
Christening in 1948

Caroline Longman – daughter of Mark Longman and Lady Elizabeth Lambart
Christening in 1951

Georgina Villiers – daughter of Honourable Nicholas Villiers and Mary Weld-Forester
Christening in 1952

Harriet Colville – daughter of Sir John Colville and Lady Margaret Egerton
Christening in 1953
Victoria Rhodes – daughter of Denys Rhodes and Honourable Margaret Elphinstone
Christening in 1953

Lady Virginia FitzRoy – daughter of Hugh FitzRoy, 11th Duke of Grafton and Fortune Smith
Christening in 1953
Princess Friederike of Hanover – daughter of Prince Georg Wilhelm of Hanover and Princess Sophie of Greece
Christening in 1954

Elizabeth Dugdale – daughter of Sir John Dugdale and Kathryn Stanley
Christening in 1958

Katherine Somervell – daughter of Peter Somervell and Diana Bowes-Lyon
Christening in 1961

Edwina Hicks – daughter of David Hicks and Lady Pamela Mountbatten (younger daughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma)
Christening: 1962

Princess Theodora of Greece daughter of Constantine II and Princess Anne Marie of Denmark
Christening in 1983

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