When families gather for Christmas dinner, some will stick to formal traditions dating back to Grandma’s generation. Their tables will be set with the good dishes and silver, and the dress code will be Sunday-best.
But in many other homes, this china--and--silver elegance has given way to stoneware--and--stainless informality, with dresses assuming an equally casual--Friday look. For hosts and guests, the change means greater simplicity and comfort. For makers of fine china in Britain, it spells economic hard times.
Last week Royal Doulton, the largest employer in Stoke-onTrent, announced that it is eliminating 1,000 jobs--one-fifth of its total workforce. That brings to more than 4,000 the number of positions lost in 18 months in the pottery region. Wedgwood and other pottery factories made cuts earlier.
Although a strong pound and weak markets in Asia play a role in the downsizing, the layoffs in Stoke have their roots in earthshaking social shifts. A spokesman for Royal Doulton admitted that the company “has been somewhat slow in catching up with the trend”toward casual dining. Families eat together less often, he explained, and more people eat alone, either because they are single or they eat in front of television.
Even dinner parties, if they happen at all, have gone causal. In a time of long work hours and demanding family schedules, busy hosts insist, rightly, that it’s better to share a takeout pizza on paper plates inthe family room than to wait for the perfect moment or a “real” dinner party. Too often, the perfect moment never comes, Iron a fine-pattened tablecloth? Forget it. Polish the silver? Who has time?
Yet the loss of formality has its down side. The fine points of etiquette(礼节) that children might once have learned at the table by observation or instruction from parents and grandparents(“Chew with your mouth closed.”“keep your elbows off the table.”)must be picked up elsewhere. Some companies now offer etiquette seminars for employees who may be competent professionally but clueless socially.
Choose correct answers to the question:
1.The trend toward casual dining has resulted in ______
A. bankruptcy of fine china manufacturers
B. Shrinking of the pottery industry
C. restructuring of large enterprises
D. Economic recession in Great Britain
2.Which of the following may be the best reason for casual dining?
A. Family members need more time to relax.
B. Busy schedules leave people no time for formality.
C. People want to practice economy in times of scarcity.
D. Young people won’t follow the etiquette of the older generation.
3.It can be learned from the passage that Royal Doulton is _______
A. a retailer of stainless steel tableware
B. a dealer in stoneware
C. a pottery chain store
D. a producer of fine china
4.The main cause of the layoffs in the pottery industry is _______
A. the increased value of the pound
B. the economic recession in Asia
C. the change in people’s way of life
D. the fierce competition at home and abroad
5.Refined table manners, though less popular than before in current social life, _______
A. are still a must on certain occasions
B. are bound to return sooner or later
C. are still being taught by parents at home
D. Can help improve personal relationships