One Manchester Fresher stands out from all the rest this year. Being recognised on buses, juggling interviews with Channel M, MEN and Student Direct and concentrating on a degree is all in a day’s work for William Hanson.
The 19 year old is the country’s ‘foremost manners and etiquette expert.’ He has appeared on E4’s Big Brother’s Little Brother, the BBC’s The One Show and in Waitrose Food Illustrated as well as having made over 30 TV, radio and newspaper/magazine appearances all over the country.
Passionate about a subject many find irrelevant in modern Britain, Hanson said: “There are a lot of problems we have in 21st century Britain – not all of them can be solved by manners and etiquette but a lot of them are due to the lack of manners and etiquette.”
His story began back on his 12th Christmas when his grandma presented him with Debrett’s ‘Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners’. Captivated, he spent the next few years learning the ins and outs of the topic. At the age of 16, he began giving classes in how to set a table to groups of children at his school in his hometown of Bristol.
Hanson, keen to pass on what he had learned, contacted the local press. Since then, from local papers to scout groups to the BBC, Hanson has made his name as the country’s youngest expert on decorum.
Hanson now believes that his teachings are transcultural and applicable to everyone: “You can go anywhere in the world,” he said, “and the principles of respecting one another and putting people at ease are the same.”
“Wherever you go in the world, if the table is set the same, people are not going to panic. We’re not talking about going to France. If you’re going to Bora Bora or somewhere, do the research, but the fundamentals are the same and once you learn them … doors are going to open for you, metaphorically and literally.”
Is he confusing manners with politeness? “Manners are like the football, more general. Etiquette is the ‘nitty gritty’, the technical aspects, the offside rule.”
Hanson studies Language, Literacy and Communication at the University of Manchester. Though not a “going out at night type of person,” he enjoyed his Freshers’ Week at Owens Park, despite the fire alarm that, ‘always goes off when I have something important the next day.’