VICTORIANS would have shuddered at the idea of using a belly dancer to improve the posture of young ladies – but a finishing school for the 21st century is doing just that.
Public Image Inc, run by Diana Mather, of Gooseberry Lane, Willington, also teaches students the etiquette of e-mails and texts, and has taken her to schools in India, Africa and Spain.
But there is still room for the more traditional image of young girls risking ridicule by walking with books on their heads and arranging flowers.
The 61-year-old’s course takes in table setting and decorating, table manners, hair and make-up, cookery, ironing, sewing, flower arranging, deportment, elocution and even self-defence.
On August 18 she will be opening the first finishing school in Nairobi, Kenya.
“A lot of companies abroad do not ever bother to get back to your e-mails,” she said. “Africans are really keen to learn international etiquette and modern manners.
“I gave a course in a hotel in Nairobi and everyone from the security guard to the management had to walk with a book on their heads.
“They have a growing middle class but we also work in schools and with disadvantaged children.
Ms Mather has travelled to Dubai, Malaysia, Trinidad and Barbados teaching etiquette and appeared on Blue Peter, the Jeremy Kyle Show and The Culture Show as well as an etiquette programme in the US.
Her client list includes MPs, lawyers, teachers, councillors, housewives, university graduates and school leavers.
She added: “The first five seconds when we make up our minds about somebody is absolutely vital.
“What I notice travelling is the similarities between the girls, not the differences.
“They all want to be treated like ladies but if you want to be treated like a lady you have to act like one.
Ms Mather is running a five-day course for young ladies at Willington Hall from August 4-8.
There are still some spaces left – call 01829 752 477 for details.