Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3664 Set by George Cowley

Definitions of a 21st-century gentleman.

Report by Ms de Meaner

I liked these a lot. However, some of you sent in not only entirely serious answers - which were tolerable though unamusing - but definitions that would have been rejected as old-fashioned, even by P G Wodehouse: eg, "A gentleman is careful never to demand special attention. In accordance with this principle, his dress is unobtrusive, and always less extreme in style than those among whom he moves." I shall name no names. The winners get £15, the shorties get £5 tokens. The vouchers go to Gerard Benson.

A gentleman is someone who only wipes his nose on his sleeve in private.

George Cowley

A gentleman never argues with a lady in public. If she infers from this that she is being patronised and hits him over the head with her handbag, he will not hit her back.

Katie Mallett

A gentleman is a man who can play the tuba but does not - at least in public.

Paul Kocak

A gentleman is someone who stands and gives up his seat for a lap-dancer.

David Silverman

A gentleman will even go so far as to prevent someone using a mobile phone from stepping under a bus.

J Seery

A gentleman will accompany his partner on the gutter side of the pavement so he doesn't spit across her;

Allows his partner at least half an hour's unrestricted use of the remote control;

Switches off his mobile during sex, unless he can answer it without disrupting his performance;

Does not e-mail intimate details of his relationships around the workplace.

R J Pickles

Is your feller a gentleman?

EastEnders is on BBC1, football's on Sky. He . . . ?

a Puts the football on

b Flips a coin

c Asks you to leave: you're violating the club's "No Ladies" rule

It's your anniversary. He . . . ?

a Puts the football on

b Takes you down the pub to watch the football

c Leaves word at the door that he's not to be disturbed

When he phones you, his first words are usually . . . ?

a Threatening

b "Wassssuuuuppp?"

c "Thank you, Smithers, I can manage from here."

The bus is full. An old lady struggles on. He . . . ?

a Shouts, "Hurry up, you old bat!"

b Tells you to give her your seat

c Tells his chauffeur to overtake the bus

Mostly As - caveman; Bs - new man; Cs - gentleman

R Ewing

The gentleman, alas, is not what he used to be. He, like all else, has been touched by the general decay in standards.

So . . . the modern gentleman:

Apologises before he farts;

Gives up his seat to a lady - as soon as the bus reaches his stop;

Refrains from using obscene language when scribbling in the margins of library books;

Makes sure he vomits into the gutter, not on to the pavement;

Lifts the seat, even when he can't be bothered to use the flush;

Never swears at other drivers when they're not actually driving;

Uses a silencer when assassinating a gang rival in the vicinity of a hospital.

Michael Cregan

A gentleman will attend personally to one's thrice-daily grooming with as good a grace and fastidiousness as he does to his. Nothing will suffice but the finest hide for his shoes and gloves or for one's own accoutrements, which should be of understated tan, without ornament. His step, when perambulating through the parks to show one to friends, will match one's own footfall, his noble nose selecting an angle identical to one's own. Those of my acquaintance fortunate enough to observe the late, great Sir John Gielgud with his companions agree that he was the model to which we all should aspire: no vulgarities entered his head; no thought of Crufts; no use of the solecism "pet". A gentleman is one's equal in every respect.

Barbara Daniels

A gentleman might indeed not "buy his own furniture", as has been asserted; in fact he buys as little as possible, relying on fate, charm, Old School, ancestry and his social inferiors to sustain his life. A gentleman does not pay his own hotel bill. In the unlikely event that a gentleman is discovered and punished for wrongdoing, he will undergo a religious conversion. If a gentleman* opens the new studio wing of a drama school, he will hand the tape-cutting silver scissors to his aide and tell him to pocket them. A chap has to live. If a gentleman is unfortunate enough to have an adulterous affair with a princess, he will write and publish a blow-by-blow account. If a gentleman is left alone in a room with a brandy, a black coffee and a loaded pistol, he knows what to do. But he doesn't usually do it.

Gerard Benson

* In this case, a lady, but the case holds

No 3667 Set by Gavin Ross

Following the vote to ban hunting with hounds, can we have revised versions of, eg, "John Peel" or "A-Hunting We Will Go", or new songs to celebrate acceptable country sports. To be in by 15 February.


This article first appeared in the 05 February 2001 issue of the New Statesman, Laughing all the way to No 10?