After Heidi Withers spent the weekend at her fiancé's home in England, her future (step)mother-in-law, Carolyn Bourne, sent her a detailed list of instructions on how she should behave if she hopes to "be accepted into the Bourne family." Supposedly the email went viral after Withers forwarded it to a few friends, but we're not entirely convinced it's real. For starters, Bourne is a "renowned grower of pinks and dianthus flowers," and we're having a hard time believing that a real-life Hyacinth Bucket actually exists. [Update: Actually, it's looking increasingly legit; see full update at the end of the post.]
There are several versions of the email circulating, but the Daily Mail's is the most complete (though the Guardian has much of the same, too):
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
Unfortunately for Freddie, he has fallen in love with you and Freddie being Freddie, I gather it is not easy to reason with him or yet encourage him to consider how he might be able to help you. It may just be possible to get through to you though. I do hope so.
If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around.
Please, for your own good, for Freddie's sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.
Here are a few examples of your lack of manners:
When you are a guest in another's house, you do not declare what you will and will not eat – unless you are positively allergic to something. You do not remark that you do not have enough food. You do not start before everyone else. You do not take additional helpings without being invited to by your host.
When a guest in another's house, you do not lie in bed until late morning in households that rise early – you fall in line with house norms.
You should never ever insult the family you are about to join at any time and most definitely not in public. I gather you passed this off as a joke but the reaction in the pub was one of shock, not laughter.
You should have hand-written a card to me. You have never written to thank me when you have stayed.
You regularly draw attention to yourself. Perhaps you should ask yourself why.
No one gets married in a castle unless they own it. It is brash, celebrity style behaviour.
I understand your parents are unable to contribute very much towards the cost of your wedding. (There is nothing wrong with that except that convention is such that one might presume they would have saved over the years for their daughters' marriages.)
If this is the case, it would be most ladylike and gracious to lower your sights and have a modest wedding as befits both your incomes.
One could be accused of thinking that Heidi Withers must be patting herself on the back for having caught a most eligible young man. I pity Freddie.
And Bourne isn't the only one who was troubled by Withers' behavior. Elsewhere the email notes that Bomber, the family dog, was left "profoundly upset, depressed and anxious" by her visit.
Update: The Telegraph reports that Heidi Withers' father has commented on the issue; he calls Carolyn "Miss Fancy Pants" and informs the press that the reason he and his wife have been unable to contribute is because they both lost their jobs. Carolyn, meanwhile, has told the press that she intends to "maintain a dignified silence" on the matter.
[Update: Heidi Withers' father has given an interview in which he calls Carolyn Bourne "Miss Fancy Pants;"