You can always spot a nouveau riche by his henna jar

THE AGREEABLE WORLD OF WALLACE ARNOLD

Share
Related Topics
t was at that delicious time of day immediately prior to luncheon. Our very select Reading Group sat in the library of The Travellers Club, mulling over the business of the day. We had, as you will soon gather, been greatly enjoying a magisterial new tome on a particularly knotty social problem.

Whither Kosovo? "You can tell by his haircut that Milosevic is a nouveau," quoth I, adding ruminatively, "No gentleman would ever ask his barber for such fancy scissor-work. And do I detect the tell-tale curls of a blow drier at hand? I rest my case."

"But surely one can blow-dry one's hair and yet still remain a gentleman?" asked my young confrere Simon Heffer, no stranger, methinks, to the henna jar.

"The last gentleman to blow-dry his hair was King Edward VIII," I opined, "and look what happened to him."

The others purred agreement. "Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar," said my old friend and quaffing partner Lord Charteris, stirring his coffee employing only his penis, as is correct.

"Pardon me," chimed in Hughie Trevor-Roper, "but King Edward VIII was no gentleman. His father and his grandfather both sported beards. No gentleman has ever sported a beard. I rest my case."

"But did his family not date back to the Normans, Hughie?" asked Roy Strong, a novice in these matters.

"I don't care whether they date back to the Freds, the Sharons or the Kevins, they are still fearfully common," snapped Hughie, dipping the end of his necktie into his coffee and sucking on it in the approved manner. "Look at the Queen Mother! She might have stepped out from behind the bar at The Rover's Return bearing a half-pint of lemonade shandy!"

"The Rover's Return?" quoth young Heffer. "I'm afraid you've quite lost me there, Hughie."

"And what on earth is a lemonade shandy?" quoth I. "A motor-car, is it? Or some sort of household gadget?"

"Gadget, Wallace? Gadget?" spluttered Roy Strong. "I trust you are employing the word with a fair dollop of irony! No gentleman EVER says the word gadget, you know!"

"Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar," chipped in Charteris.

"One's revulsion towards the word dates back to the days of Sir Sidney Gadget, the nouveau riche Victorian entrepreneur," elucidated Roy. "The moment it was discovered that he had invented the toothbrush, society dropped him like a hot brick.

"Just as they had dropped Sir Algernon Brick, less than two hundred years earlier," added Heffer, "Neither he nor his wife, Lady Cynthia, ever recovered."

How very stimulating our Reading Group discussions can prove! We had all, you will have gathered, been inwardly digesting J Mordaunt Crook's magisterial new work, The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches. As you might imagine, it had served only to increase our vigilance against this ongoing social problem.

"Of course, the Bricks were forced to change their name, in the hope that they might one day be accepted back into society," said Hughie. "But they chose badly and their ploy failed miserably."

Roy's ears pricked up. "To what did they change their name?" he asked.

"Sir Algernon and Lady Cynthia Toilet," explained Hughie with an ill- concealed grimace.

At this point, the library doors swung open. A young couple strode in, all over-pressed clothes and eager smiles. "Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar!" muttered Charteris. It was HRH Prince Edward, escorting his fiancee, Miss (Msssss!) Sophie Rhys-Jones on a whistle-stop tour of the club.

"Don't look now," hissed Heffer, puckering his lips. "But I think he's holding her hand!"

"Eeyurgh!" we all groaned in unison.

"No man and woman should ever hold hands," said Trevor-Roper. "Unless, of course, the gentleman is on his death-bed, his will is about to be read, and no qualified doctor is available to take his pulse."

The Royal Couple continued to scurry about the library, blissfully unaware that they were the objects of our social analysis. "I see the Prince wears tassels on his shoes," I whispered.

"Tassels were invented by Rodney Tassel in the late 18th century," hissed Roy Strong. "The family still live at Tassel Castle in Rutland, but they're never invited out."

"No doubt the pair of them will wave after their wedding," said Hughie. "The Windsors are always waving. They don't know any better."

"Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar!" confirmed Charteris, picking his nose with thumb and forefinger, in the approved manner.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
Author of Adrian Mole: Sue Townsend  

Errors and Omissions: A protagonist is one thing that doesn’t travel in pairs

Guy Keleny
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit