The perfect complaint

Well, first, what are you wearing? When it comes to public protestation, your outfit could make the difference between receiving a Dominos apology or a Fortnum and Mason’s Imperial Hamper couriered to your door. It is very difficult to exert any sort of authority when sporting a bumbag, Three Wolf Moon T-ShirtToyWatch and neon Kanye-style shades (it is unlikely that the attendant at the V&A’s Baroque exhibition will understand that you are dressed in this urban-punk-meets-middle-America ensemble as a statement that ironic old tat is the new baroque).

The opposite extreme is equally ineffectual. Anything that screams nouveau riche insecurity – monogrammed Gucci trainers, Sean Jean jeans, head-to-toe snowy Louis Vuitton - will persuade the sommelier that you’re only kicking up a fuss about the Pinot Noir to impress the prepubescent starlet picking pensively at her garden salad with dressing on the side. The most effective complaint couture suggests discreetly stylish man of the world – a chap used to getting what he wants, in the possession of moderate but immovable desires. Burberry Prorsum’s s/s 09 Crumpled Classics would be a good bet to ensure that any remonstration is given due regard.

For the griping itself, you have two models to choose from. Role Model One is Crocodile Dundee in his Doberman showdown. Maintain eye contact at all times; be firm but fair; and speak at the level of a slow, quiet hum, so the perpetrator of your discontent has to come to you (however, do stop short of actually re-enacting the bull-horn hand thing). Role Model Two is seventeenth century nobleman proposing a duel. Be utterly civil, utterly logical, and utterly precise, and lay down each word like a gauntlet, with the cool confidence of a man who has ivory pistols tucked into his pants (again, stop short of actually carrying ivory pistols in your pants).

Never say ‘don’t you know who I am?’ You’re nobody – no, Charles, not even you - and in any case hinting at oncoming Alzheimers is rarely a sharp strategy. Never get flustered or personal: this is a matter of simple entitlement, not capricious desire. And never demand specific recompense for the overcooked Wagyu / underpowered exhibition / extraneous remark. Explain that you’ll have to leave the matter in their hands, because you’re terribly busy – aren’t copy deadlines scandalously tight? Ask for their name, twice – ask them to spell it, if you’re feeling jolly – write it very slowly and quietly with your perfect pen in your perfect diary, and stride away.

If you don’t receive your hamper within the week, return to the premises and resort to Role Model Three: Violet Elizabeth Bott.