Rules for modern gentlemen - would you pass the test?
An upper-crust magazine has published its rules for being a gent. Our man checks his score...
If clothes maketh the man, what are the crucial ingredients to being a gentleman? In fact, is there even such a thing as a gentleman anymore?
After all, in an age of demented identity politics and a culture that now believes any expression of maleness is something to be frowned upon, is there a place left in polite society for an old-fashioned gent?
Well, bible to rich toffs, Country Life, reckons there is still room for that increasingly endangered species and their '39 Steps To Being A Gentleman' is, apparently, all you need to need to know to become one.
Frankly, I've always thought the idea of what constitutes a gentleman in Irish terms is a rather nebulous one.
After all, many Irish blokes think sharing their post-pub spice bag with their girlfriend and then holding her hair back when she's getting sick is the height of urbane sophistication, so Country Life's rules will probably result in the average lad feeling angry and confused.
After all, when your mammy was giving you advice on how to be a gent, she probably won't have instructed you to always tip staff in a private house and the gamekeeper when out on a hunting trip - which apparently is a crucial prerequisite for qualification into this elite club.
Similarly, and I mean this with the best will in the world, is the ability to start a bonfire with one match really the mark of a modern gent?
No man will ever admit to not being a gentleman, but it turns out that no matter how gallant you may think you are, you're just a lumpen savage.
For instance, I always thought that the definition of a gentleman is simply someone who holds the door open for a lady and always walks on the outside of the path to ensure that she doesn't get splashed by any passing car.
Well, they were the rules that were imparted to me when I was growing up, but despite holding these values to this day, that's not enough to mark me out as the kind of chap Country Life would approve of.
Because a perusal through their 39 steps reveals that either there's no such thing as gentleman at all, or else the person who came up with the rules was clinically insane.
For instance, their assertion that "a gentleman can undo a bra with one hand" is quite obviously unreasonable and unrealistic. After all, no man, with the possible exception of the Italians, has ever been able to perform such an intricate operation without getting all tangled up in the strap and completely killing the mood (apparently).
Then there are rules which are just, well, weird.
So, the modern gent knows how to: "Train a dog and a rose." OK, I get the dog-training bit. But how the hell do you train a rose?
If you walked past someone's garden and saw a man pointing at his flowers while telling them to "sit" and "stay", would you think that you were in the presence of a gentleman or a nutter?
Similarly, their edict that a "gentleman always sings lustily in church" seems rather strange. Granted, it's been quite a while since I darkened the door of a church but I still reckon that anyone who sings lustily during the hymns is simply being a rude show-off, although my principal objection to that particular nugget of wisdom is more to do with the fact that the words "lust" and "church" should never be in the same sentence.
The idea that a "gentleman knows when to clap" is also a rather odd inclusion. Are the people at Country Life plagued by plebeians who burst into spontaneous clapping for no apparent reason? I suppose, if you managed to remove the bra with one hand, you could be forgiven for giving yourself a congratulatory round of applause but in the list of etiquette breaches of the modern era, inappropriate clapping is not one I've previously encountered.
Of course, some of the rules are simply common sense and good manners.
They are correct, for example, when they say that: "Facial hair is temporary but tattoos are permanent." I'm sure most people will agree that no self-respecting gentleman would ever get a tattoo - bad news for Ireland's hipsters, many of whom now walk around the place with the kind of inking that only a Japanese yakuza could love.
Sandals, obviously, are also a big no, as are lilac socks. And vegetarians.
Yes, our veggie brethren are apparently incapable of being gentlemen, which seems extremely unfair but is actually perfectly reasonable - how can you possibly shoot, gut and cook a pheasant or a grouse if you won't eat it?
There are also some baffling travel tips, such as the fact that a gentleman "never goes to Puerto Rico".
I don't know what Puerto Rico ever did to the compilers of this list, but it must have been pretty bad to become the only place in the world where gentlemen are urged not to visit.
Do you swat flies but rescue spiders? That's another test I fail, seeing as any time I see a spider, I go pale, start to whimper and then retreat to the bedroom to wait for the wife to take it outside.
There are some concessions to modernity, more's the pity.
Apparently, the thoroughly modern gent "knows how to use an emoji". Frankly, I would have thought that any self-respecting gentleman wouldn't even know what they are, let alone know how to use them.
But is there any real difference between a true gentleman and the rest of us oiks?
Well, I imagine the real deal wouldn't need to read 39 ridiculous rules, for starters.
Although the fact that I only ticked 10 out of 39 boxes and am therefore a complete skobie might have something to do with it...
Country Life's rules for being a gentleman
According to the magazine, a gentlemen...
Negotiates airports with ease
* Possesses at least one well-made dark suit, one tweed suit and a dinner jacket
* Turns his mobile to silent at dinner
* Arrives at a meeting five minutes before the agreed time
* Avoids lilac socks and polishes his shoes
* Knows the difference between a rook and a crow
* Can tie his own bow tie
* Would not go to Puerto Rico
* Can undo a bra with one hand
* Never blow dries his hair
* Knows that there is always an exception to a rule
* Would never own a chihuahua