A Hong Kong-born, British- and Harvard-educated woman, Sara Jane Ho, is opening a school of etiquette, the Institute Sarita, in the Park Hyatt Beijing. Price? Only £2,000 to £10,000 (about $3,140 to $15,700).
Would you pay this much for, according to Daily Mail, “lectures on how to use a knife and fork properly, how to peel a piece of fruit, how to greet a prospective mother-in-law, how to walk in heels and how to eat soup without slurping”? Apparently, dozens of society wives have, and it’s not just them: even bosses of state-owned companies, too.
A subtle pro-British snobbery is driving the desire of wealthy Chinese to improve themselves socially. ‘There is an aura of mystery about European royalty that Chinese people can’t resist. Any aristocracy in China was wiped out, so the Chinese are fascinated by the idea of a royal dynasty that stretches back hundreds of years,” [Sara Jane said].
I’m not sure how to justify the price of this course. One summer – I think I was about 8 or 9 at the time – my parents sent me to a manner course, where all my classmates were under the age of 16. I can’t remember exactly what we learned, except there was a cutlery lesson. It officially ended with a fashion show at a country club where all of us were asked to walk down a runway and model children’s clothing, all bought by our parents. I think I had a sailor outfit and a swimsuit.
But, I guess, being in a country of 1.3 billion, it’s important to do something to differentiate yourself. Some may choose to buy fancy cars, others go for property. Others still cultivate their inner snobs. A runcible spoon for you, Miss Ho(visham)?