Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The End of Summer

Well it is that time of year, the last week of August.  The official summer season by calendar is about to come to an end with labour day within view!  Myself I am spending the last few days resting in the country before a busy month of September begins.  In just a few days I will be going to New York City, Riyadh Saudi Arabia and Orlando all within three weeks!  It's going to be a very exhausting month to say the least.
I promise to be more vigilant with blogging as we go into the fall season and hope to hear back from all of you with your comments.  Oh and by the way, I've been re-signed and excited to report that I will be back on The Marilyn Denis Show for season FOUR just 10 days away!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today is the official day for the release of my book "the butler speaks!"  Stay with me next week while I keep you all informed on my media tour across the country!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is Publishers Weekly saying?

I was recently given a copy of what Publishers Weekly is saying after they did a brief book review.  Are you ready?  Here we go and don't forget to let me know what YOU think.  Available April 23rd in a bookstore near you.

The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining and the Art of Good Housekeeping
Charles MacPherson
Appetite/Random House of Canada, U.S.$27.95 Can. $29.95 ISBN 978-0-449-0151-9

This definitive work fairly oozes the polish and poise of proper butlering, etiquette and household management. MacPherson (founder of Charles MacPherson Associates), neatly lays out the fundamentals of his business into five sections. Part one covers the oddly fascinating history of the service industry, including tidbits such as a footmen’s typical pay scale—based on height and good looks, not competence. Part two sets the etiquette standards with butlering how-tos and dos and don’ts. This is the part that will turn your brewed tea into an art form and your introductions into a statement about your pedigree, real or not. Part three is all about throwing the ultimate shebang, complete with the requisite cutlery, dishes, and glasses. Illustrations ensure you never use a three-tined dessert fork for your salad again. Mothers will appreciate part four, in which MacPherson exhorts readers not to put their elbows on the table, among other rules of table manners. A yearly cleaning calendar is just one aspect of the art of housekeeping discussed in part five. With wit and panache, MacPherson jams in reams of tips that will have you cultured in no time. Agent: Dan Mozersky. U.S and Canadian distribution: Random House. (Apr.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

What do you call a former Pope?

As some of you may be aware, I am a proud member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International - Protocol Officers Association.  This article appeared two weeks ago in their weekly members newsletter and was written by our President Mr. Chris Young and I thought it was really interesting.  I look forward to your thoughts as always.

Of all the protocol questions surrounding such a remarkable story, this one is perhaps the most enigmatic at the moment.  The simplest answer is that we will have to wait and see.  Ultimately, the incoming pontiff will decide what title, style, dignity and even name Benedict XVI may use.

To answer this question more fully, I consulted PDI-POA's vice president of marketing and communications and one of the world's most renowned experts in this arena, Mr. Robert Hickey.  Robert is the author of the acclaimed Honor & Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address, which should be one of the first books to fill any protocol professional's library.

In the book, Robert notes the pope's full and formal title: His Holiness The Pope, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop of Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, and Servant of the Servants of God.

The secret to what we may call Benedict XVI on 1 March may lie in his full formal title, which we assume to run with the office and not with the person.  Robert stresses what we often say about any office where only one person can hold it at a given time.  The Pope is the Pope.  How can there be two Supreme Pontiffs of the Universal Church?  How can there be two Sovereigns of Vatican City?  There cannot.  That defies logic.  There is no more room for two popes in the Catholic Church than there is for two presidents in the United States, two prime ministers in the Japan or two queens in the United Kingdom.

One option would be for him to revert to his pre-papacy title and name: His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.  Presumably his elevation to the rank of cardinal, bestowed years ago by Blessed John Paul II, was personal in nature, and thus one he retains and to which he may now return.  (An analog would be Colin Powell, who, upon leaving his service as Secretary of State returned to his personal rank of General Powell.) 

Or, since the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome, he could follow the same tradition as retired prelates and be called His Eminence The Bishop Emeritus of Rome.  This seems much more likely than Pope Emeritus.  And, in fact, Rev. Lombardi indicated in a press conference that the Pope was likely to take some sort of emeritus title.

In either of these scenarios, the Vatican will face an interesting question of precedence.  Where does a former pontiff rank on its list?  Given his age alone, 85, Benedict would likely be quite high among the seniority list within the College of Cardinals.  However, if he were not the senior-most cardinal, either by age or position and portfolio, does he get a "post-pontifical boost" to rank just under the new pope, so that he would be primus inter pares, a cardinal who is first among equals?

And then, Robert raises a question that cuts protocol with the sharp sword of religion and spirituality:  In Catholicism, the Pope "is infallible in matters of faith and morals."  Given that, "it seems hard to believe he'd be lowered from this highest of all statuses once he got there..."  But, in practice, that seems to be the certain course: on 28 February, he is supreme; on 1 March, he is not.  Perhaps that question is better left with the curia and the theologians.  Or perhaps it is better left to Benedict himself.  Watch carefully at the Installation Mass in late March and see if the former pope sits among the retired cardinals and, at the appropriate time, rises, walks to the throne of the new pontiff and pledges his allegiance... by kissing the ring he once wore.  That might be all the answer you need.

The Vatican tacitly acknowledges that this is an issue but has not yet tendered the answer.  As Robert summarizes, "Since the Church has not had someone of his 'soon-to-be-established rank,' the courtesies are undefined."

This story is certain to produce more lessons for us in the coming weeks, months and years.  For instance, what happens when Benedict ultimately dies?  Is his funeral Mass celebrated as if he were merely a cardinal or a former pontiff?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Be Unlike Bridget

Be unlike Bridget: Etiquette for the season

Be unlike Bridget: Etiquette for the season

Photograph by: Screengrab , YouTube/Bridget Jones' Diary

Marching into the holiday season armed only with the advice to “not drink too much at the office Christmas party” does you no favours. There are many more things to be mindful of while socializing with colleagues, a group of friends or even your own family.
To provide you a better defense against etiquette injustice we turned to civility expert, Charles MacPherson, owner of Charles MacPherson Academy, the only accredited school in North America for Butlers and Household Managers, for some pointers to help you maintain your reputation (and dignity!) this season and beyond the holidays.
Because the holidays offer opportunities to mingle in company you might seldom see, knowing good conversation starters, and the ones to avoid, will help you get off on the right foot, whether you’re meeting somebody for the first time or rekindling an old friendship.
Generally, keep politics, religion and careers off the table too. Comments like, “thank God the Democrats won!” even if that’s how you feel and assume they do too, can ignite unwelcome debate - says Charles, “These questions may open a Pandora’s box of emotions that are not appropriate at a social gathering”.
But also, be mindful when asking questions of a more personal nature. People are especially sensitive to those questions with more judgmental connotations. Asking someone if they’re still single is an obvious no-no (we all remember that Bridget Jones dinner scene!) Also, questions like “How is the job search going?” or “Is your divorce over and final yet?” are never appropriate.
Instead, MacPherson recommends preparing your conversation well in advance, soaking up days’ worth of lighter current events before visiting. Other than starting with the boring ole adage of the weather, reading the newspaper for several days before you attend a party will give you plenty of topic areas to choose from, and witty replies to someone’s else’s comments.
You could also start a conversation by commenting on an item you like in your host’s home, like “I love that painting! Who is the artist?” The point is to pick a positive topic on neutral ground, which is more factual than personal or subjective. After all, good conversation is an art.
If you’re hosting a dinner party and you’ve invited your whole slew of friends, despite a couple of them having a less-than-positive history with one another, you shoulder even more responsibility for how things proceed. How do you set up the table? For the seating arrangement MacPherson advises that there absolutely is protocol to follow, known as a “pecking order” or “order of preference”.
At a more formal event, this is often decided by rank of importance (read: wealth) but as the host of a house gathering, you need to take it upon yourself to seat people where conversation will flow easily, like gravy on mashed potatoes. Consider what your guests have in common, what they could discuss, and how they could contribute to their end of the table. Don’t put all the rollicking extroverts on one end and the introverts on the other!
For those two who have shared ill words in the past, avoid stress lingering over the whole table and seat them far apart, while giving them each the same rank and respect in the pecking order. In other words, avoid keeping one at the main table and suggesting the other joins the kids – that would be plain rude.
Finally, as the host try to prepare everything well in advance so you’re yourself at your most sparkling and relaxed. A frazzled host can create a bristled atmosphere. Provide yourself with a few safety nets; easier courses that won’t keep you in the kitchen the whole time, plenty of nibbles to sate guests before the meal, and – of course – keep the beverages flowing… With the right preparation, both you and your guests will be merry and bright!
Stay classy, Canada!
For more tips on etiquette, check out Charles MacPherson on CTV’s The Marilyn Denis Show every Monday, or visit his website at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Canada's Favourite Butler Charles MacPherson: Gift Ideas For Every Holiday Host and Hostess

I thought you might like to know about this great presentation that I am doing next week.

November-21-12, First Canadian Place Gallery
12:15 PM,1:15 PM

Mind your manners! Canada’s favourite butler and a popular guest on The Marilyn Denis Show, Charles MacPherson will share advice on how to be a gracious guest – from when to arrive at a dinner party to presenting the hostess with a gift. He’ll be showcasing his “Top 10” hostess gifts of the season. The best part? You’ll be able to find all of his gift suggestions right here, in stores in First Canadian Place and the Exchange Tower. Charles will also address the tradition of sending out thank-you notes – when to send, who to send them to and what to write – and, of course, the merits of sending a handwritten versus an email thank-you.

Presented in association with the stores in First Canadian Place and the Exchange

Monday, November 12, 2012

Praise for The Butler Speaks

I just thought you might be interested in what people are saying about our book to be released April 2013 by Random House.  What a list of great company below, I am truly honoured, Thank you!!

Praise for The Butler Speaks
Charles MacPherson

“Charles the Butler taught me to truly understand what luxury is. He alone deserves the fifth highly coveted luxury hotel star.” —Oliver Cremont, Former Head Butler, Fouquet’s Barrier Hotel, Paris

“All warmth and charm, Charles takes the stuffiness out of butlering. When Charles the Butler speaks, I listen! He presents the ‘old school’ lessons of etiquette, entertaining and housekeeping in a way that everyone can learn. I am proud he is a Master Trainer at my school.” ­—Pamela Eyring, President, The Protocol School of Washington

“Charles has been my go-to resource for nearly a decade now. His expertise, elegance, and thoughtful tips are an unbeatable combination. I am thrilled that he is sharing his in-depth knowledge with the public in this handy resource." —Benjamen Douglas, Former Household Manager to Morgan Freeman and Myrna Colley-Lee

“One of my favourite guests, Charles the Butler gives great advice on managing your life, loving laundry and pursuing good manners.” —Marilyn Denis, host of The Marilyn Denis show

“The Butler Speaks is your definitive guide to the art of living well, delivered with the wit, charm, style—and simple common sense—that you have come to expect from Charles’ columns in Metro. Keep it handy and you’ll never misstep!” —Charlotte Empey, Editor-in-Chief, Metro English Canada

“In a world where impersonal technology increasingly drives human interaction, Charles MacPherson reminds us just how powerful and dynamic the personal touch can be in our daily lives and how attention to even the smallest of details can give us an edge—whether we live in small studio apartment or entertain in mansions; whether we wish to connect with a few or impress hundreds. The Butler Speaks is a must-have resource, from the corporate executive to the recent university graduate and everyone in between.” —Chris Young, President, Protocol & Diplomacy International, Protocol Officers Association

“Not everyone needs, wants or can afford a butler, but anyone who takes pride in their home and in entertaining their family and friends will find within these pages the tips and tricks that a professional butler uses to define the ultimate standards of a privately staffed house.” —John Robertson, butler to their graces the Duke and Duchess of Northumblerland, Alnwick Castle