When I was a callow youth, I made innumerable social faux pas that served to impress upon me the importance of behaving like a gentleman. A gentleman should never raise his voice, or display impatience. A gentleman should treat every woman he encounters as a lady – except in the bedroom, obviously (and even then, a gentleman should always have the manners to thank the lady for any undue exertions he may have obliged the lady to make).
A gentleman should be magnanimous in victory, and invisible in defeat. A gentleman should display the same level of interest and consideration when in discussion with a person of lesser intelligence, as with a person of superior intellect. A gentleman should always be well-groomed and properly attired.
However, most importantly, a gentleman’s watchword should be “modesty” in all things: he should never, ever draw attention to himself. The very worst thing a gentleman can do is to sink so low as to brag. Allow me to demonstrate with an appropriate example:
Let us suppose that a gentleman has achieved the rather modest aim of writing and publishing two or three moderately passable science fiction novels. Now, let us further suppose that one or two readers may have decided to make their feelings known publicly, in which they demonstrated an opinion that one of the gentleman’s novels was rather less than an unmitigated disaster.
Thus, the gentleman may be tempted, but would be quite wrong, to mention a certain review by a Mr Charles Ray (author of over 30 books, who said: “James has described a future ‘reality’ with such astonishing detail, both technological and social, it is vividly authentic, and all too ‘real’.”), or a review by a Mr Lioc (“Probably the best of the indi Science Fiction published over the last year…”), or a review by a Mr Brian Beam, or a review by a Ms Lynne Cantwell, or a review by a Mr Al Kunz. Indeed, it would be extremely bad form if the gentleman were to publicise in any way that one particular reader, a Ms Jo-Anne Teal from Vancouver, had placed images of the gentleman’s novels so prominently on her website.
If the gentleman were to behave in such an appallingly crass, boorish, and self-centred manner, he would clearly leave himself open to the charge of being a cad, a bounder, and a pretentious fop.
There, I think I’ve made myself plain regarding the importance of being a gentleman. And I sincerely hope that future events do not conspire so that I find myself obliged to repeat this exercise in providing all of you with the perfect example of the most atrocious, pompous, ungentlemanly behaviour. Thank you.
Right, how about a song? Here’s a gorgeous tune, written and performed by a real gentleman, who left far too soon: Harry Chapin