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Good Manners, Inc.

Ottobre 2006
Una scuola di buone maniere per vere ladies: roba d’altri tempi? Non sembra, a giudicare dal successo internazionale di questa  Finishing Academy,  vera e propria università dell’etichetta. Che il bon ton stia tornando di moda?

di Derek Workman

File audio:

The Finishing Academy
The Finishing Academy

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

An upper-class young lady in the 1950s might well have been expected to spend a year at a finishing school, possibly in France or Italy, where she would have acquired the necessary “polish” needed to enter polite society. She would have learned to cook, to sew, to be a very good housekeeper and to look after her husband and children – although, if she married well enough, she would have had servants to take care of everything. All that has gone now, but Diana Mather, a former actress and dancer, decided to set up her own version of a finishing school in the English county of Cheshire. As she explains, the idea was to provide the “polish” for modern young ladies.

Diana Mather (Mild “upper-class” British accent):

I decided to start the Finishing Academy here because there are no finishing schools left in Britain, and the reason for that was because they hadn’t really moved on from the ‘50s, they weren’t offering a product that was suitable for the 21st century and the way that girls behave today, and the aspirations of girls. The finishing schools were for women who were never going to work, whereas the Finishing Academy, we like to think, helps people both at work and socially.

from BOYS to MEN

Before the courses even got going, it became obvious that it wasn’t just the younger generation that needed “finishing”:

Diana Mather:

Because of my background of working in the BBC, I got BBC television and a programme called Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 to come and cover the first course, and Woman’s Hour goes round the world, so we began to get enquiries from women, because they were suddenly thinking, “Perhaps I would like to do something like this,” so suddenly, from girls of 15 to 19, we suddenly got women from 20 to 66 wanting to come on the courses, and then they started to say, “Well, what about our husbands, boyfriends, sons?” so we... that’s when we started them for men and we have had really worldwide exposure for the men’s courses because there isn’t anything else like it in the world, at the moment.


So what is it that makes people prepared to travel from the four corners of the globe to seek a little bit more refinement in their lives?

Diana Mather:

I think there must be a feeling worldwide that there is a lack of knowledge of what is expected in different situations. What we are really giving at the Finishing Academy is confidence, so that you know which knife and fork to use, you know how to greet people both in Britain and different countries, you know what to wear at a black-tie dinner, without having to worry about it. So it really is not just a British thing, it’s a worldwide phenomenon, people want to be better mannered. As Marie Claire magazine said, “Class is back.”

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finishing school - scuola di buone maniere.

polish - raffinatezza.     

polite society - alta società.

to sew - cucire.

housekeeper - padrona di casa.

former - ex.

suitable - adatto.

worldwide exposure - pubblicità in tutto il mondo.

to seek - per cercare.

lack of knowledge - ignoranza.

confidence - scioltezza, fiducia in sè.

black-tie dinner - cena formale, elegante.