'There's a balance between equality and sexism'
Putting the 'man' back into manners, etiquette expert John Kelly runs a course in social graces for guys -- including table manners and image -- at The Finishing Academy of Ireland in Naas. Here, he gives his guide to chivalry for confused modern fellas.
"Women today are used to having doors slap back in their face and not getting any help with the their shopping bags, so they find it acceptable -- it's not. Although some women might argue with me over this, I believe there can be a happy medium between equality and sexism.
"On our Etiquette Programme for Young Gentlemen, the first thing we ask clients to do is bring along a set of casual clothes and set of smart clothes -- usually they turn up with old jeans and a T-shirt and good jeans and a T-shirt. If you're single and trying to impress a lady, a nice shirt and jacket, cufflinks, shiny shoes and matching belt and socks are a must.
"On a date, some girls will want to pay their share -- but going 'Dutch' (splitting the bill down the middle) is not fashionable and never has been. Pick somewhere with no or low music, switch off your phone and compliment your date on how nice she looks. Sometimes the waiter will pull out the chair or take her coat, but the man should do these.
"Don't hold her hand, put your arm around her or otherwise make a move unless you're invited to.
"When it comes to proposing, the etiquette hasn't changed over the years -- you should still ask her father's permission and get down on one knee.
"After you're married, men should continue to treat their wife like a lady. Don't just bring out the bins -- buy her flowers just because it's a Tuesday, surprise her with a present every few months or make her a cup of tea when she's in bad form.
"Women may tell you they don't care about these things, but in my experience, they do."
For more information on The Finishing Academy of Ireland's Etiquette Programme for Young Gentlemen, see www.finishingacademy.ie