McCall Smith gives dinner party etiquette advice

McCall Smith advised party-goes how t get away from awkward conversations

BESTSELLING author Alexander McCall Smith has taken to the internet to give his fans advice on how to ‘detach’ themselves from awkward and interminable cocktail party conversations.

The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency writer Tweeted the cocktail party etiquette tips to his 5,721 followers yesterday (Mon).

The Tweets were from the point of view of one of his characters, Isabel Dalhousie, star of the Sunday Philosophy Club books.

Taking things 140 characters at a time, the 63-year-old said: “Writing Isabel Dalhousie book; Isabel is at a cocktail party.

“She dislikes these – calls them “trials by cocktail”, but the issue is: how does one detach oneself from people to whom one is talking?”

McCall Smith’s suggests starting with: “I need some air! I must get to a window.”

If the person you are trying to evade responds “Oh, so do I, I’ll come with you”, McCall Smith Tweeted that you should say: “I really have to leave.”


If the person comes back with “Me too. We can both leave”, McCall Smith says it is time for the nuclear option.

“Perhaps best to say ‘I’ve enjoyed our chat. Thanks so much,” he Tweeted.

McCall Smith admitted that he had been the subject of avoidance at a cocktail party.

“Honest. Someone who wanted to get away from me just said “Good luck!” And left,” he Tweeted.

Followers responded with their own tales of escaping limpet-like party guests.

Dawn Norton said: “To detach oneself during convo you say excuse must take that call I keep my mobile in my bra and right now its vibrating.”

Andrew Cusak said: “I’ve always gotten away with a quick and final ‘Ah well: must circulate!’ accompanied by a swift movement onwards.”

This is not the first time McCall Smith has offered etiquette advice to his Twitter followers.

In December he took to the social network to offer advice on how to avoid another awkward social situation: the rejection of an unwanted Christmas present.

He advised waiting until January 25 before owning up to not liking the present and giving it away.

But feigning joy when receiving the gift in the first place was essential, he said.


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  1. I love McCall Smith…but his advice appears to be rather callous; and, not very inventive. I say, embrace the bore as you yourself never know just what you may learn in terms of what not to say or do. I’ve been a bore on many occasions, I’m sure. But when I cannot continue in cocktail chatter I simply smile, excuse myself with a slight wave of the hand as if I’ve been called suddenly away and leave. No one, even a bore, expects cocktail chatter to be endless with any one person. A bore enjoys a bit of variety, too.

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