Wellington Dinner Info and Etiquette

 
The History Historically, British officers (from whom most of our Canadian traditions are inherited) lived in barracks which contained not only their sleeping quarters, but also lounges, games rooms and dining facilities which together were known as messes. In the case of overseas postings in far corners of the British Empire, they were also the centre of an officers social life. It was in fact, their home and they were expected to treat all guests as if they were guest in their own home. That tradition continues to this day.

The Officer's Mess was founded over one hundred years ago as a social club for both serving and retired officers although today it also includes an extensive military library, and prized museum collection, and has committees dealing with strategic studies and military history. 

Starters Punctuality is important - you are expected to be at the Armouries promptly at 6:30 pm. If you are travelling on your own, the Armouries is located at 130 Queen Street East at Jarvis. Parking is available on site. A pre-dinner reception will take place in the Warrants and Sgts Mess located on the upper floor. If for some unfathomable reason you are unavoidably delayed, you should report to the PMC as soon as you arrive. 
Whenever you are in uniform, don't ever forget that you represent the school and the cadet corps. While at the Officer's Mess, you are my guests and your deportment and behaviour reflect on me (not that I'm worried of course or I wouldn't be doing this!). Company Commanders are responsible for the dress of their Platoon Commanders, the c/CO of the Company Commanders and RSM, and the RSM of the P/Maj and D/Maj. 
BEFORE you get out of the vehicle in which you arrive, you should make sure you are properly attired - buttons down up, glen on, etc. - because you should never be in public except in full and complete uniform. Same applies when leaving - once at the school's bus (or your car) you can loosen your tunic or whatever. 
Like the dining hall at SAC, wearing headdress (ie. your glengarry) inside the Mess is a big NO-NO. The penalty however is somewhat more severe - beside being an embarrassment to me and our cadet corps, you are liable for buying drinks for all those present! You can leave your glen and any changes of clothes or whatever, in a small room adjacent to the library by using the front stairs. 
General In order to avoid the challenge of duels, it was historically considered inappropriate to discuss ladies, religion and politics in the mess. In modern terms that means avoiding topics which might risk offence to others present (After all, you're still issued swords!!!) 
Dinner Things Since Mess tradition includes not leaving the table before the end of the meal without permission of the PMC (who traditionally denies permission!), I WOULD STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU MAKE USE OF THE WASHROOM FACILITIES BEFORE GOING TO THE MAIN DINING ROOM!! (They're located behind the sword room on the main floor and at the bottom of the front stairs.) 
When you go into the main dining room, find your seat and stand behind it until the head table is piped in, at which point you should stand to attention. 
Your napkin is designed to protect your sporran from collecting uncooperative pieces of your dinner - use it! 
It is considered impolite to start to eat before the head table does however since they get served first, you won't likely have to wait long. 
Don't forget the basics - start with the utensils on the outside and work in - don't talk with your mouth full - no elbows on the table - make an effort to talk to all those around you during dinner rather than monopolizing the conversation with one or two people.
On several occasions during the evening, applause is appropriate. For some long forgotten reason, it is also considered traditionally acceptable to applaud by tapping the table with the fingers of your hand. 
At a certain point during dinner, the head table will be introduced. Following that, the rest of us will be introduced to the head table by the appropriate person. Please stand completely and remain stading while you are being introduced. 
The Port At some point after dessert, four decanters of port will be placed on the table - one in front of the PMC, one in front of the VPMC and one at the end of each of the other tables. The PMC will pour his glass of port and pass the decanter to the left. This will also be the signal to the VPMC at the other end of the table to pour his and pass it. DO NOT START THE PORT UNTIL THE PMC POURS HIS!!!! 
One only pours his own port - never anyone else's. And yes, the smallest glass is for the port!! 
The port decanter is always passed to the left. Our "tradition" is to "thump" it gently on the table beside the person to your left and let go, before they pick it up. Keep it moving - we can't start the next part of the programme until everyone has their port! 
Remember - moderation is the expectation!!!! 
Toasts The person making the toast will rise and propose a toast, at which point the rest of us will pick up our port glass, stand to attention, raise our glass, respond to the toast, sip our port, and sit down again. 
In the mess, you NEVER "clink" your glasses with those around you when making a toast! 
Remember there are at least FIVE toasts for which your port has to last. 
The correct response to the toasts are: 
  1. "The Queen" 
  2. "St. Andrew's" 
  3. "To the 48th" 
  4. "To St Andrew's Highland Cadet Corps" 
  5. After Standing at attention for the lament: "To those who died" 
After Dinner During the "remarks" portion of the evening's programme, you will of course show the appropriate interest in the speaker (even when the Commanding Officer has his turn!) 

It is not considered polite to race for the exit as soon as the formalities are over, but rather to linger over one's coffee for at least a few minutes or speak to our guests before departing. BEFORE LEAVING ONE SHOULD SAY GOODNIGHT TO THE SENIOR OFFICER PRESENT AND TO THE PMC. 

Don't forget your glen or anything else you brought! 


In spite of all the rules and traditions,
make sure you have a good time!!!