Have you seen Tatler’s new rules of poshness? I don't know whether to laugh or cry

<span>Photograph: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock

I can honestly say I’ve never read anything in Tatler before. It’s not as if you find it lying around in doctors’ waiting rooms, although, oddly, there always seems to be a copy of Country Life, wherein the property adverts trump anything the editorial delivers. How delicious it is, as you wait to be bathed in the gentle concern of a kindly GP, to look at pictures of houses in the home counties you will never be able to buy. Then again, there’s invariably the odd country estate in distant counties you’ve never heard of that seem very competitively priced.

Anyway, Tatler. I’ve chanced upon an article headlined: “The new rules of social engagement.” The standfirst goes on: “Hugging? Out. Air-kissing? In. Here’s how to navigate the minefield of being upper class in the age of coronavirus.” It’s written in a wearying self-deprecatory tone that I’m familiar with from podcasts my daughter forces me to listen to, hosted by alumni of the Made in Chelsea school of excellence. The shtick is, like: “We’re ridiculously rich but we’re big enough to know we’re a bit, well, ridiculous, so do feel free to be informed and entertained.”

If it’s well done, and tongues are in cheeks, I can take so much of this and even enjoy it. If I didn’t have the means to put food on my kids’ table however, I would certainly take a different view, quite possibly smashing to pieces the laptop I couldn’t afford to own anyway.

I read on, so you don’t have to. I’m always seeking a better definition of “posh” then the one advanced by Mike Harding on his TV show half a lifetime ago – though I suspect I’ll go to my grave without one. “I tell you what’s posh,” he said. “Getting out the bath to have a wee.” Love it. “As for the rest of us,” he added, by way of clarification. “We just stand and aim.”

I have to report that the Tatler piece wasn’t without merit. I learned, for example, that the Queen’s favourite dining spot is a place called Bellamy’s, which is described as a “U-bolthole”. The proprietor is a man with the not-very-posh-sounding name of Gavin Rankin. He expects the new normal to herald “a resurgence of the fan as a sort of face mask”, complete with old-age flirting techniques. He also predicts “air-kissing, only from a greater distance”, but table-hopping “will be out, thank goodness”.

So much to unpick here. How can a fan be a “sort of face mask”? Apart from anything else, don’t fans, well, fan air, and so waft all manner of germs everywhere. And what are these “old-age flirting techniques”? Could it be beneath-the-table footsie; above-the-table eye contact, or simply information re bank balances, net worth, potential inheritances etc displayed on a large tablet computer for the perusal of the target of the suitor’s ardour to read? As for table-hopping, I don’t really know what it is but I’m with Gavin in being well pleased to see the back of it.

So much of this world is beyond parody that it’s hard to know where the joke stops. For example, if you are “U” in the new normal, dining out must involve booking the private room in restaurants or, failing that, booking the entire restaurant. Similarly, “live-in staff are now practically a prerequisite for the much-dreaded second wave, particularly if they also happen to be trained hairdressers”.

I mean, we laugh (or do we?), but this stuff happens. To find out more, I’m going to book myself a table at Bellamy’s, and I hereby invite the great Mike Harding to join me. I don’t know him but, judging by his biog, I reckon he’s a Guardian reader. Mike, reach out to me, I’ll call Gav to book a table, and we’ll take lunch together in Her Majesty’s favourite spot to see how the other half live, and speculate as to who gets out the bath to wee, and who doesn’t.