Less is more, they say. Well, more or less. More can be a great deal more fun (pistachio nuts, corduroy) and sometimes the less said about less the better.
But to be fair to Marie Kondo and her acolytes, one of the chief joys of my recent house move (still Fulham, don’t worry) was decanting several bin bags of clothes to the local British Heart Foundation. (I sometimes wonder if I like the idea of Gucci loafers more than I actually like Gucci loafers, if you know what I mean?).
The Marie Kondo organisational principle, so far as I understand it, states that if something doesn’t spark joy or serve a clear purpose, kick it to touch. Sage advice, that. But what if something similar could be applied to your social life? Here’s how.
1. Identify the chaff
There are several ways to work out whether your friends really care about you or whether they just like you for your tennis court/ mother’s cooking/ excellent legs. The traditional way was to fake your own death and then leap out at the funeral, but good clean pranks like that tend to fall a bit flat nowadays. (Thanks, Ashton Kutcher).
Instead, why not start a new business or creative venture, and see how many of your friends actually buy your Persian tea cosies or turn up at the launch of your poetry book. A couple of ideas to get you started: a firstname-surname interior design agency which specialises in sourcing mid-century cocktail stirrers; a service for embroidering fun millennial messages on throw cushions, like ‘don’t talk to me until I’ve had my matcha latte’ or ‘Carpe DM’; a dating app for Radley boys.
If they don’t show, they’ve got to go. (Which isn’t actually a bad thing to get embroidered on a cushion, now I think of it).
2. Cut them loose
It’s the summer of 1813, and Beau Brummell — the inventor of the suit and the man described by Lord Byron as the “greatest gentleman” of his time — is putting on a ball in the pompy Argyle Rooms of St James’s. As the evening commences, the porcine Prince Regent, guest of honour and heir to the British throne, trots (yes, trots) down the line of bowing gentlemen. As he gets to young Beau (his best friend, tailor and gambling buddy) he stops. But instead of the usual chit chat, The Prince simply fixes his host with a blank and stony stare. History can be fun, can’t it.
Brummell had been the victim of the Cut, which is basically the regency practice of pretending that you don’t know someone whom you almost certainly do. (In response to this little slight, by the way, Brummell turned to the chap on his right and said: “Alvanley — Who’s your fat friend?” The next day he was cast out to the hell of debtors prison, or at least somewhere near Clapham Junction.)
Back then, the Cut was the most fashionable way of getting rid of nonsense pals, and it had a grand hierarchy of practices, traditions and gradations.
Nowadays, however, you should just stop following people on Instagram and remove yourself from any Whatsapp groups that haven’t been active since January 2019 or earlier.
3. Exercise damage control
Once you start culling pals, you may well find you get cries from the remaining people in your life questioning your actions. They’ll throw around phrases like “callous” and “childhood friends” and “he’s your brother for christ’s sake”.
Rebut these assaults with talk of “bad energies” and “irreparable structural damage” and “standing in your own truth”. These hit just the right sweet spot between nauseating spiritualism and underlying childhood trauma to kill any dispute on the spot. Who can debate what they couldn’t possibly understand? I’m told a similar solution has worked for the Catholic Church for some centuries.
4. Bring in a new set
With the shelves of your social life newly tidied and dusted (and the flotsam of friendship languishing on the curb) you may find that there’s room for some new ornaments and trinkets about the place. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re considering making new friends:
- How many people did they kiss at The Feathers?
- Does their little sister have lots of artistic single friends at Leeds?
- Do they have a house in the Dordogne?
- Do they wear Toms at all?
- Do they hold their knife like a pen?
- Are they more Highland Spring than Badoit rouge?
- Is the tennis court communal?
Good luck out there!
Now, why not pick a few new friends from our list of London’s most connected gentlemen?