How to Chat Someone Up at a Funeral: And Other Awkward Social Situations

How to Chat Someone Up at a Funeral: And Other Awkward Social Situations

by Mark Leigh


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A humorous guide to etiquette in more than 60 totally awkward social situations

Most etiquette guides will tell you the proper way to eat asparagus or the correct way to address a dignitary—but they fail abysmally when it comes to offering advice on any number of awkward social situations. Containing guidance and tips for dealing with more than 60 such scenarios, this book is completely non-judgemental. How (and why) you might find yourself in any of these circumstances is immaterial; the book is concerned with presenting the best way to conduct yourself so you leave the situation with your dignity (and sometimes your life) intact. Modern dilemmas covered include challenging a co-worker to a duel, disposing of a dead body, assuming someone's pregnant when they are not, inadvertently farting in the presence of the Queen of England, and disarming an axe-wielding maniac.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784180171
Publisher: John Blake Publishing, Limited
Publication date: 05/01/2015
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Mark Leigh is the author of more than 50 humor and trivia books on subjects as diverse as celebrities, extra-terrestrials, swearing pets, and toilets.

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How to Chat Someone Up at a Funeral

And Other Awkward Social Situations

By Mark Leigh

John Blake Publishing Ltd

Copyright © 2014 Mark Leigh
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78418-235-9


Inadvertently farting in the presence of the Queen

Contrary to popular belief, farting in the presence of The Queen does not constitute high treason and is therefore not punishable by life imprisonment in the Tower of London. However, in spite of this act being considered a lesser offence it is still essential to apologise and to be aware of the accepted etiquette when doing so.


1. Always address The Queen as 'Your Majesty', and subsequently 'ma'am' (to rhyme with Pam).

2. The apology should leave The Queen in no doubt that your fart was accidental and as far as humanly possible, completely out of your control. Never, ever admit it was a deliberate act undertaken as some sort of political or social comment – or for a wager.

3. Never use the word 'fart' or 'farting'; the use of these terms is considered a sign of ill breeding. Appropriate terms are 'passing wind' or 'flatulence'. However, in certain circumstances euphemisms including – but not limited to – the following may be used: 'guffing', 'playing Satan's bugle', 'crop dusting', 'firing a stink torpedo', 'trouser trumpet', 'knicker-ripper' and 'making the call of the barking spider'.

4. Never attempt to blame your flatulence on one of the royal corgis, or The Duchess of Cambridge. The Queen has heard it all before.

5. After The Queen has responded to your apology, you should leave her company by making a small bow or curtsy. Although it will probably have good comedic effect, resist the temptation to fart again while undertaking these actions.

6. Her Majesty fails to find any humour whatsoever in someone farting after immediately saying, 'Hey Queenie, pull my finger'.

7. Likewise, the royal funny bone will not be tickled if you say, 'Hey Maj, better out than in!'


• 'I am very sorry, Your Majesty, for playing Satan's bugle in your direction. I underestimated the effect of the sauerkraut and cauliflower served at the state banquet.'

• 'Your Majesty, I apologise for my vapour caper; this malodorous whiff was the result of the curse of irritable bowel syndrome.'

• 'Ma'am, I express my sincerest regret for cutting the cheese at the exact moment you knighted me. I can only put this down to a combination of anxiety, excitement and an earlier bowl of All-Bran.'


Disarming an axe-wielding maniac

When confronting an axe wielding maniac, or indeed a maniac of any sort, it is important to note that their mental state means their behaviour is likely to be very unpredictable. Despite this, if you are unarmed yourself there are still some basic techniques you can use to minimise the threat and degree of injury that is likely to be inflicted.


Rule 1: Acknowledge that you are likely to get hurt

This could be anything from a graze or minor cut (unlikely) to the loss of one or more limbs or a very painful and bloody death (highly probable). Conceding that serious injury is a likely possibility will improve your own psychological state and ability to fight back.

Rule 2: Do not run away from the maniac – get closer to them

This might seem absurd, almost imbecilic, unbelievably senseless and catastrophically dangerous advice when your natural reaction will be to run away as fast as you can. However, space between you and the maniac works to his/her advantage, giving them room to manoeuvre the axe.

Rule 3: Quickly read the intent of the maniac

Do they want your money, your mobile phone, your car or your partner – or do they just want to maim or kill you for no apparent reason? If you can, buy your way out of the situation by offering material possessions or try reasoning. If the maniac is intent on violence just for the sake of it (as 95 per cent of them are), be prepared to fight back with all your might.

Rule 4: Do not try to intercept the axe

Trying to focus on the axe is the most serious mistake you can make (apart from getting yourself in this situation in the first place). Your objective must be to stop the maniac, not the inanimate yet very sharp object in his or her hand.

Rule 5: Attack the limb controlling the axe

The initial most-practical attack will be to land a blow on the maniac's forearm (Note: ensure this is the forearm holding the axe). The second most-practical attack will be to aim for their upper arm or shoulder. Striking any of these should allow you to momentarily divert the attack or even (although very unlikely) disarm the maniac.

Rule 6: Destroy the maniac's central senses

Your final goal should be an attack to the maniac's head or neck to either control their body or render them unconscious. A headlock or chokehold is suitable until (or if) help arrives.


Bribing a foreign border guard

You know how it is: all you want to do is cross from Nigeria to Chad or from Guatemala to El Salvador. The border guards have inspected your passport and with a look that's as predictable as it is unnerving, shake their heads and tell you that there seems to be some sort of 'problem'.

They don't usually elaborate on what the so-called issue is – but that's not important. All you need to know is that like most problems, there's always a solution; in this case it's greasing the palms of officialdom.

Border guards are known as much for their greed as their intransigence, so if you're naive or decide to take the moral high ground, be prepared for a very long wait at the crossing or airport until you change your mind or your travel plans. If, on the other hand, you acknowledge that bribery is one of the three defining characteristics of a developing nation (along with flies and child labour), then it's important to recognise that corruption has its own elaborate etiquette.

The following system of unwritten rules and procedures has been established to avoid detection and to make the transaction as smooth and as quick as possible.


Rule 1: Let them take the first step

Even though you might expect to pay a bribe, don't offer payment before the official has made his/her intentions clear. Doing so is considered the height of bad manners.

Rule 2: Recognise the euphemisms

Despite having questionable ethics, most corrupt border police still pride themselves on having a certain dignity and won't resort to blatantly asking for money outright to stamp your documentation. Instead they'll ask you to pay an 'expediting payment', a 'processing fee', or 'expenses'. Other times they may ask you for a 'small gift' or suggest you 'discuss the matter over tea' then wink at you or stamp one foot. These are all well-worn euphemisms.

Note: The universal sign of an official rubbing his/her thumb and forefinger together can overcome any language barriers.

Rule 3: Let them name their price first

This simple rule prevents you overpaying. In some impoverished countries you can get away with a packet of cigarettes, in others, just two Silk Cut. In others, you can gain free passage just by handing over a biro or a packet of Juicy Fruit.

Rule 4: Negotiating your bribe (optional)

In most cases, border officials think every foreigner visiting their country drives a Rolls-Royce and lives in a mansion with a butler called Hudson. They will always name a price far more than they want, so it's your prerogative whether to pay this or enter into what could be protracted bargaining.

Note: Negotiating a bribe isn't like haggling for a knock-off designer bag or T-shirt in a market. Firstly, you can't just walk away if you're unhappy with the price, and secondly, the people you're haggling with usually have a very short attention span, no sense of humour and carry a gun.

Rule 5: Be discrete

Although bribery nearly always involves the physical handing of money from one party to another, corruption etiquette states that the cash must be hidden from view. Handing a border guard a wad of notes, while acceptable, is considered vulgar and tactless. Bribes should be hidden inside passports, airline ticket wallets, travel itineraries or, of course, brown (never white) envelopes.

Rule 6: Never ask for a receipt

In conclusion

Don't let the existence and expectation of bribery dissuade you from visiting foreign countries. To ensure you experience trouble-free travel, make sure you follow the rules above and remember, it's a jungle out there!

Note: Native guides will often need bribing to ensure your safe passage out of a jungle.


Challenging a co-worker to a duel

Playing the radio too loud ... messing with the room thermostat ... pushing your stapler over the desk boundary line ... High-pressure work environments are often the breeding grounds for petty disagreements to rapidly develop into full-scale disruptive arguments and even accusations of misconduct or discrimination. Managers are keen to resolve any such issues by a formal arbitration process. However, challenging your co-worker to a duel can be a far more effective way of settling such disputes.


• Employment tribunals are bogged down by the need to adhere to formal procedures and practices and usually involve lengthy and dull discussions in the Small Meeting Room. A duel can simply involve swords or pistols and a corridor.

• An employment tribunal has rules and is associated with bureaucracy; a duel follows a code and is associated with honour.

• Winning an employment tribunal does not give you anywhere near the same satisfaction as piercing your co-worker's heart with a rapier.

Note: If the idea of duel is appealing, please check it is permitted under your contract of employment. You'll usually find the subject covered in the company handbook somewhere near the notes on dress code and holiday entitlement.


Remember that a duel is not an impromptu scuffle or brawl. It's a pre-arranged and controlled fight between men or women of honour and as such, a certain degree of dignity is expected from both parties by adhering to the code.

1. Duels don't happen spontaneously; a challenge must first be issued to your opponent. Historically this consisted of throwing a glove or a gauntlet on to the ground in front of them. These days, email is an acceptable alternative.

2. The challenger must clearly state his/her reason for the duel. This can take the form of an attached Word document or, if the reasons are more complicated, a PowerPoint presentation using clip art or animation may be used to give a more detailed explanation of the grievance.

3. Once the challenge is explained and issued, a specified time and place for the duel must be agreed. Using Microsoft Outlook is recommended to invite your opponent and ensure both parties have a clear record of the event. Accepting the meeting is taken as your official recognition of the duel and its consequences.

4. The person challenged has the right to choose the weapon. Traditionally this will be a sword or pistol. Throwing plant pots or even reams of A4 photocopier paper at your opponent, while acceptable, does not uphold the true spirit of the duel.

5. Ensure the selected venue has sufficient space for the duel to take place. Low suspended ceilings can seriously hinder a sword fight while pistols fired in the car park are likely to cause collateral damage, including the MD's Range Rover or a random group of smokers.

6. Both parties have the right to appoint a 'second'. Their role is to prepare the weapons and make sure the rules of the duel are followed. Your second can be anyone in the company: the maintenance guy, the posh bird in marketing or even that creepy bloke in accounts.

7. The winner of the duel is whoever has scored first blood. This does not necessarily mean death; it could be a nick from a sword, a wound from a bullet or if stationery is thrown, a paper cut.

8. The loser must concede defeat and accept inevitable humiliation in the company newsletter.


How to dump someone, yet still look like you care

It's never easy to break up with someone and it's even less comfortable saying 'sayonara' in person. Text and email goodbyes are cowardly while just changing your Facebook status to 'Single' is considered the height of bad manners. Letter writing, although more thoughtful, tends to be a lost and almost arcane art.

The best solution by far is using the traditional Japanese poetic form haiku, a win-win situation in just three lines. Working within its strict regime of seventeen syllables over three lines forces you to be clear and concise. There's no room for mixed messages. Plus, the fact you've adopted this historic poetic form indicates to your ex-partner that you're sensitive and you still care ... the split is therefore far more palatable.


Our love has faded
Blameless; all you did was right
It's not you. It's me.

Words choke in my throat
You deserve someone better
(I know that I do).

Sorry I'm leaving
I got off with your bezzie
Didn't she tell you?

It's different now
It's true, I do still love you
But like a brother.

They say breaking up
Is hard to do. No, it's not.
Don't ever call me.

So sad, our parting
If only you had managed
To lose thirty pounds.

I found all those texts
The ones you sent to that skank
Now you're deleted.

You cheating slimeball!
I moved out and took the cat
She hates you as well.

SEE ALSO: Composing a 'Dear John' letter, p.252


Getting an erection while making a presentation at work

Men are genetically predisposed to be aroused by visual and mental stimulation. Add to that the risks of chafing from underwear and you'll understand why erections can occur at the most inappropriate times and locations. Research has shown that the most embarrassing and awkward time to have an erection is standing up, making a presentation in front of colleagues or clients. Unless you're talking about the third quarter's Viagra sales and are trying to emphasise a point, it's often difficult to explain why there's a significant bulge in your trousers as you click through your PowerPoint slides.


Excerpted from How to Chat Someone Up at a Funeral by Mark Leigh. Copyright © 2014 Mark Leigh. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
1. Inadvertently farting in the presence of the Queen,
2. Disarming an axe-wielding maniac,
3. Bribing a foreign border guard,
4. Challenging a co-worker to a duel,
5. How to dump someone, yet still look like you care,
6. Getting an erection while making a presentation at work,
7. Receiving a tarantula as a Secret Santa present,
8. Assuming someone is pregnant when they're not ...,
9. How to escape from a mountain lion at a dinner party,
10. Negotiating with a pimp,
11. Inadvertently lacing canapés with arsenic,
12. How to perform an emergency tracheotomy after pretending you're a surgeon,
13. The art of writing a ransom note,
14. Being best man at a shotgun wedding,
15. Removing an archbishop's blood from a hotel carpet,
16. Shouting out the wrong name in a moment of passion,
17. Evacuating a sinking ship: Is it really 'Women and children first'?,
18. Delivering bad medical news by ventriloquism,
19. Accidentally wearing Nazi uniform to your niece's wedding,
20. Organising a vigilante gang,
21. Suspecting your girlfriend is a serial killer,
22. Chatting someone up at a funeral,
23. Being asked to join a witches' coven,
24. Avoiding small talk with your hairdresser,
25. Disposing of a dead body,
26. Turning down an invitation to speak at a social event,
27. Being invited to an Amish party,
28. Concealing an office affair from co-workers,
29. Forgetting someone's name at a social occasion,
30. Leaving a party early,
31. Getting rid of unwanted houseguests at Christmas,
32. Ordering off a foreign menu,
33. Cannibalism: know your table manners,
34. Breaking a curse,
35. How to avoid alien abduction,
36. Breaking up with a werewolf,
37. Making a deal with Death,
38. Retrieving your soul from the Devil,
39. Exorcism etiquette,
40. Post-apocalypse dress code,
41. Discovering a grizzly bear in the confessional box,
42. Waking up next to a complete stranger,
43. How to tell if your date is a man in drag,
44. How to behave appropriately after a zombie outbreak,
45. Blocking the toilet at someone's house,
46. Going on a blind date with a vampire,
47. Being abducted by Somali pirates,
48. Haggling when buying crystal meth,
49. Bailing out of a bad date with decency,
50. Pretending you're a rocket scientist to impress women,
51. Tipping a hooker,
52. Meeting the parents,
53. How to behave at a swingers' party,
54. Knowing when to shake, kiss, hug or high-five,
55. Flat sharing with a gorilla,
56. How to help a Sudoku addict,
57. How to be a good prison bitch,
58. Suspecting your husband is a Mafia don,
59. Coping with stalkers,
60. Spontaneously combusting during a job interview,
61. Calling your wedding off,
62. Writing love letters,
63. Urinal etiquette,
64. Composing a 'Dear John' letter,
65. Being pushed down a well by your mother-in-law,
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