The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Chronicle of the cruet set

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I AM delighted to see that my academic confrere Dr (if you will]) Andrew St George has found a publisher for his forthright and provocative tome, The Descent of Manners, in which he chronicles, with mounting horror, the decline of social behaviour in the 20th century (dread era])

Alas, when I rang Andrew up to congratulate him in person, I was told in no uncertain terms that he was 'out snogging on the college forecourt' but that he would 'give you a bell soonest' after he had 'downed the rest of his four-pack'. Time being of the essence, I felt that I couldn't wait that long, so I am rushing my eulogy into print, in the hope that he will read it over his traditional Sunday breakfast of a couple of Milky Bars, a Twix and a pint and a half of Carlsberg Special Brew on the rocks.

Needless to say, I am over the proverbial moon that one so young (Andrew - or Andy as he prefers to be called by his 'mates' - is only 31 1/2 ) should have taken up cudgels against the tidal wave of yobbery that is threatening to engulf our sceptr'd isle. I am sorry to say that rudeness has reached even the most refined of establishments. Only yesterday while I was passing a little post-prandial wind in the Smoking Room of The Garrick Club I was horrified to hear a fellow-member - who shall be nameless] - mention the words 'cruets' and 'condiments'. Seizing my opportunity, I dragged him to one side, made a few (sadly unprintable]) observations on the impropriety of his remarks, and, with a discreet kick to his shins, told him to learn better manners over the weekend or the Club Secretary would be furnished with a detailed report first thing on Monday.

Of course, I was sorry to have had to take such a harsh approach - poor little Woodrow is, after all, a close friend - but standards must be maintained.

Would it be awfully rude to say that I detect what one might call a 'hairy-bottomed' element among those who write for the Independent on Sunday? Judging by some of the surrounding articles - on soccer, pop music, the dread gogglebox, not to mention those ceaseless whinings about the price of 'CDs', whatever they may be - our editor has allowed one or two representatives of the Great Unwashed to slip through his proverbial net.

No snob I, as my friends (many of them titled, some lavishly so) will testify, so to those still mystified by the question 'What is a Gentleman?' I offer this cut-out-and-keep guide to Wallace Arnold's 15 Golden Rules

Of Gentlemanly Behaviour:

1) A Gentleman Never Lights His Cigar before Others have Commenced their Meal.

2) A Gentleman Never Tips Royalty, though he May Offer to Reimburse Reasonable Expenses.

3) A Gentleman Never Interrupts Once a Lady has Finished Speaking.

4) No Gentleman Takes an Interest in the Cinema, New Curtains, Charity Work or Clothes.

5) When a Circle of Gentlemen is Gathered after Dinner, Wind is Broken Anti-Clockwise (except in Australia, where it is Clockwise).

6) A Gentleman Never Mentions Issues of Religion or Politics.

7) A Gentleman Always Forgets a Face.

8) A Gentleman Always Makes the Effort to Invite his Staff to Attend Any Large Party, Family Festivity, Wedding Celebration or Highland Ball on the Estate: Outside Caterers Can Prove Ruinously Expensive.

9) A Gentleman Waits to be Introduced before Requesting a Cigarette.

10) A Gentleman Never Dances in Time to the Music.

11) A Gentleman is Never Disloyal, Except when Expedient or Amusing.

12) A Gentleman Stands up when a Lady Enters the Room and Then Moves off into a Huddle with Other Gentlemen.

13) A Gentleman Takes an Active Interest in the Well-Being of His Staff, for Insurance Purposes only.

14) A Gentleman Helps With the Dishes, except in His Own House, or in Houses of Others.

15) A Gentleman Takes a Keen Interest in Wildlife, Remembering to Hang It For a Decent Time for a Fuller Flavour.