Today’s Sunday Times in an “advice” column entitled “Mrs Mills Answers Your Questions” responds to a reader with an allusion to Evelyn Waugh:
Example of betters
When a toff passed away recently, the obituary notice in The Times read that when a guest arrived at a dinner party of hers with a bottle of wine, she took it from him and announced to everyone there, “Oh, why do the middle classes feel they must bring a present?” Should I stop taking presents from now on as it is bad form?
Why do you think the so-called upper classes should be any guide to your behaviour? Often, their defining characteristic is rudeness, born of a sense of entitlement. Thus many of those seeking to pass themselves off as upper-class think that behaving boorishly will make people believe they are properly posh (Evelyn Waugh being a prime example). It is kind and considerate to turn up with a present, and the less ostentatious the better: homemade jam, panforte or a book you have enjoyed are perfect.
How is panforte not ostentatious? Is there some Wavian irony at work here?
UPDATE (24 May 2017): The following comment was retweeted by @CWEvelynWaugh:
“Ah but his rudeness resulted in many apology gifts to his hostesses- so often that he eventually could not afford to dine out!”