Revealed: The 39 steps to being a modern gentleman
Country Life magazine has released a guide to being a gentleman in the modern age
There was a time when qualifying as a gentleman came down to little more than having the right breeding, the right schooling, and a nice firm handshake.
But in today’s dizzyingly complex world of social media, hi-tech gadgets and endlessly fluctuating trends, modern men could be forgiven for being somewhat bewildered about what standards of behaviour are required.
Now Country Life has drawn up 39 rules that it says set the ground rules for modern male manners.
The 39 steps to being a (modern) gentleman
1. Negotiates airports with ease
2. Never lets a door slam in someone's face
3. Can train a dog and a rose
4. Is aware that facial hair is temporary, but a tattoo is permanent
5. Knows when not to say anything
6. Wears his learning lightly
7. Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit, and a dinner jacket
8. Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes
9. Turns his mobile phone to silent at dinner
10. Carries house guests' luggage to their rooms
11. Tips staff in a private house and a gamekeeper
12. Says his name when being introduced
13. Breaks a relationship face to face
14. Is unafraid to speak the truth
15. Knows when to clap
16. Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time
17. Is good with waiters
18. Has two tricks to entertain children
19. Can undo a bra with one hand
20. Sings lustily in church
21. Is not vegetarian
22. Can sail a boat and ride a horse
23. Knows the difference between Glenfiddich and Glenda Jackson
24. Never kisses and tells
25. Cooks an omlette to die for
26. Can prepare a one-match bonfire
27. Seeks out his hostess at a party
28. Knows when to use an emoki
29. Would never own a Chihuahua
30. Has read Pride and Prejudice
31. Can tie his own bow tie
32. Would not go to Puerto Rico
33. Knows the difference between a rook and a crow
34. Sandals? No. Never
35. Wears a rose, not a carnation
36. Swats flies and rescues spiders
37. Demonstrates that making love is neither a race nor a competition
38. Never blow dries his hair
39. Knows that there is always an exception to a rule
As Mark Hedges, the magazine’s editor, says: “There is no higher accolade than to call a man a gentleman.”
The list covers a range of topics, including male grooming, use of technology, and competency in the great outdoors. While points such as being able to sail a boat and ride a horse would seem to fit within long-established gentlemanly conventions, a number of suggestions belong firmly in the 21st century.
One rule drawn up by Rupert Uloth, the magazine’s deputy editor, is that a gentleman should “know when to use an emoji”, the small smiley faces that can be copied into text messages and emails. Such things should never be used in professional life, he Mr Uloth said.
He added: “I think the point about that one is that it’s good to be able to communicate with one’s children, god-children, nephews and nieces, and to show that you know what an emoji is. They are a light-hearted thing, and if you got sent one it would be a pity if you didn’t know what it was.”
Perhaps surprisingly, the magazine takes a relaxed view towards tattoos, but urges men to remember that “facial hair is temporary, but a tattoo is permanent”. Mr Uloth said: “I think we mean don’t be stuffy about, but it’s about remembering that it’s pretty difficult to get rid of tattoos. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t have one.”
On the subject of the fairer sex, the magazine is unequivocal: good manners demand that a gentleman "breaks a relationship face to face". While such a relationship is still intact, however, he should be able to "undo a bra with one hand".
Throughout history, great Irish writers have tried to define the essence of gentlemanliness. Oscar Wilde said that a gentleman was one “who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally”, while George Bernard Shaw said a gentleman always “puts more into the world than he takes out”.
In a similar vein, Paula Lester, features editor of Country Life, said that the most important of the modern commandments were the ones that revolved around being kind and caring.
These include rules such as that a gentleman “carries house guests’ luggage to their rooms”, “wears his learning lightly”, “never lets a door slam in someone’s face”, and “turns his mobile phone to silent at dinner”.
Ms Lester said: “A lot of things have changed over the years, but the point we need to make is that a big part of being a gentleman is being able to step back and take time to look after people. If I had any advice for would-be gentlemen, it’s about being as kind and supportive as possible."