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The League of Gentleman

ST PAULS CHURCH

I have standards of behaviour on my mind this morning. I was described as a gentleman recently, a standard of behaviour that seems to have gone out of fashion. It seems the definition of what a gentleman is and for that matter what a lady is, seems to have become confused.

Standards used to be set by the churches, but they seem to have fallen into disrepute. The standards of bygone days were very superficial anyway. The standards were public standards; behaviour to be observed in polite society. Many gentlemen behaved as such in public, but in private were far less than gentleman. I watched a little of the television drama ‘Fanny Hill’ last night, that featured the lewd behaviour of  ‘gentleman’ in the privacy of the brothel in the days of aristocratic supremacy. There are less aristocrats now and by a strange coincidence, less brothels. I’m sure they both thrive in places like our capital city, London and the elitist centres of education. Not all the education at Oxford and Cambridge is done within the walls of the Universities.

I saw a new movement to improve men’s behaviour on Twitter. It will never work. We need a new League of Gentlemen, a gentleman’s club where we can retire in the evening to sample single malts and discuss the matter. No cigars now though, they are seen as positively unhealthy. We might even have to substitute good beer for the single malt; such is progress. I saw that George Osborne has scrapped his plan to end housing benefit for the under 25’s; he’s no gentleman; he is a public schoolboy. Being an adult doesn’t make you a gentleman; knowing how to behave doesn’t make you a gentleman; knowing how to dress doesn’t make you a gentleman and money certainly doesn’t  Morality isn’t a matter of position or wealth, it’s a matter of conscience. You are either empathic towards other people or you are psychopathic; the latter gets a position of power.

When I was young, the novel Fanny Hill was quite sought after by young schoolboys. Sex education was virtually non-existent. It was as popular as 50 Shades of Grey has been recently; I suspect for the same reasons. I think 50 Shades was popular with women wanting a little more excitement, but not quite sure why. The women who talk about it on television are very liberated of course, but are the women who read it in the privacy of their own bedrooms? I doubt it, they are probably as naive the schoolboys who shared copies of ‘Fanny Hill’ years ago. It makes you wonder about all the kids running around and why we have had a baby boom in recent years.

I met a few ‘gentlemen’ the other evening, when I went to my informal school reunion. I wonder if they would be attracted to a League of Gentlemen’s club? They probably would. I think it’s ex-public school boys who go to the ‘Fanny Hill’ style brothels. The judges, politicians and high-ranking civil servant types, not the cream of middle class grammar school boys. I think the public school boys would regard us as the common oiks, to be treated with disdain and contempt.

If we had a League of Gentleman, would we need a Ladies’ League to match or would we have to allow women in the Gentleman’s league to avoid falling foul of laws against discrimination. I wouldn’t mind that too much, as long as they were British…

It does make you wonder what is acceptable and what isn’t these days. There is no etiquette these days, no rules of behaviour. People even put Coca Cola in their scotch and weird things like that, these days. Standards are definitely slipping…  Do we need standards of behaviour? I suppose we do, we can’t have a free for all. Life isn’t a soccer match… It’s not cricket to let people do as they like…

I would hate to write a rule book for women though. They have always made their own rules. Their rules are ridiculous, requiring them to wear all sorts of adornments. The more they wear, the worse it is sometimes. The rules seem complex for women. They are common if they wear false eyelashes with a suntan. Mascara with Dior perfume and a haute couture hat is not only okay, it’s positively desirable. I think ex-grammar school girls are probably more lady-like than their finishing school counterparts. Except for Margaret Thatcher of course, but there is always one or two…

What do you think? Do you have standards or are you one of those people who shouldn’t be allowed out in public? Please comment and share your thoughts…

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