A flurry of texts and tweets, and it was apparent I was tarting around in some tight trousers on the BBC. Fleetingly, I appear in the fabulous new series ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, following the magazine Country Life as they continue 120 years of bringing the Great British countryside to a nation obsessed with the rural idyll.
The three part series deals with Country Life’s position in the pantheon of legendary publishing titles particularly well, that it is more than a magazine – the emotive place that Country Life holds in our hearts. Continuity, tradition, the glamour of the past – all elements of the British psyche that make history such an integral part of our national culture.
Flashes of yours truly come in show three at a party the magazine held for their Gentleman of the Year awards at the Goring Hotel. The editorial team, along with some esteemed guests, got to choosing their chap of the year by debating what makes a gentleman – something I have regularly opined about over the years. Whilst agreeing on manners maketh man, charm and not being overly fussy, there was an overriding feeling that a true gentleman should have individual style. Moments before my appearance, the author Jilly Cooper stated that a gentleman should have a tremendous lack of vanity, and judging by my outfit, perhaps I am less of a gentleman and more of a noble cad.
Sadly, I am not Machiavellian enough to be a cad, but I will take on the mantle of dandy. Having your own style is something I have always been utterly passionate about – fashion will always come a poor second to strong personal style. Though you can chop and change, Gentlemanly style should be about wearing whatever you want with confidence – a gentleman is full of conviction, so even if veering from the norm, it only looks bonkers if you are unsure of yourself. You can wear a peacock on your head if you hold it up with elan (I may have been guilty of this particular offence in the past…)
The Ideal British Gentleman should not be afraid at being a little frayed at the edges, should open doors, pull out chairs, stand up when greeting, walk on the outside on the street, and always try and put people at ease. In an increasingly globalised world, where boardroom manners are standardised, tweeked by so-called experts, and often misinterpreted, you can never go wrong with a bit of old-school chivalry. Well, that and paisley trousers.
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