Gentlemen bike with pipes

Thanks to Chris for pointing out this article about “gentlemen as a dying breed in England.”  My favorite quote totally sums up the British experience:

“It is ungentlemanly to even refer to oneself as one [a gentleman],” says Fergus Henderson, the chef-patron at St John in Spitalfields, London. “It is the sort of thing that should remain unspoken.”

LOL!  Of course, here most things should remain unspoken, apparently.  Today I had an email in which a colleague referred to me as “outspoken ahem I meant outstanding” and I got the picture.  I really was a bit too much for the gentlemen last week. That said, I’m unclear as to the “dying breed” nature of the gentleman.  I live in a town where most men own tuxedos and cufflinks and where gentlemen bicycle down the street smoking their pipes.  I’m not kidding, two different ones spotted in the last two days and both times I did the “what the …?” look over the shoulder thing.  I frankly could use fewer gentlemen around.  I’d like to wear my jeans and my ironic t-shirts more often.  I’m tired of trying to fit into the British upper crust!


4 responses to “Gentlemen bike with pipes

  1. NFAH: Most people in this country, I think, or at least in the south-east have their own tuxes and cufflinks. 🙂 All good shirts allow cufflinks even on women’s shirts so surprise, surprise, even *I* have cufflinks!

    But seriously renting a tux is definitely déclassé. This is one piece of clothing which has not changed in yonks. So if it gets an outing even 5-6 times in a year, it is worth investing in one, rather than give Moss Bros income. No?

    That dying breed? I think it is the few people who know the difference between manners and etiquette. The true gentleman has manners, a fake one knows etiquette. (For more, search for ‘etiquette’ on my blog when you have a moment, for a sharp piece by Adrian Gill which I extracted once).

    Then again, I have taken photos of rickshawpullers and cyclists in India talking on mobiles even as they pedal. What is to say pipes are not to be smoked? After all a person can no longer smoke indoors in a public place anywhere any more.. :-/

  2. I believe that it was CS Lewis who wrote a piece about 50 years ago decrying the loss of the word “gentlemqn” as a meaningful term. The point was that the word originally meant a specific thing: a male who owned a certain type of property plus a couple of other precise things. The term was value-neutral- by calling someone a gentleman you were not saying anything bad or good, you were simply describing his situation. Lewis (?) was bemoaning the fact that when the thought police of that day got through with the word, having decided that everyone should have the right to be called gentleman, as describing personal characteristics rather than living arrangement, the word became meaningless and thus worthless.

    When something describes everything, it describes nothing- “all the children are above average” (of course, *my* children really ARE above average)

  3. Kurmudge:

    “of course, *my* children really ARE above average”

    This is something that reminds everyone of their parents 🙂

    And my usual way of bringing perspective to my friends, who have kids, is to say: Oh yes, your son is so special, just like _everyone else_.

    Of course, calling someone special, when referred to in the educational context, symbolises something quite the opposite of “above” average.

  4. Oh and the MPs refer to one another as “the honourable gentleman”. Most of them are not gentlemen, except some Tories and nearly all of them could qualify to be anything but honourable… So much for words.

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