Dan offers unsolicited advice
EVERY NOW AND THEN – INCREASINGLY OFTEN IN THIS AGE OF CLICKBAIT ‘LISTICLES’ – SOMEONE RE-WRITES THE RULES ON HOW TO BE A MAN. I recently read two such articles in quick succession. One was in a respectable American newspaper and included such pearls of jis-dom as: ‘The modern man listens to Wu-tang Clan at least once a week’ and ‘has all of Michael Mann’s flms on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time)’. The other was from a laughably pompous writer in a British magazine who decreed that a modern gentleman ‘sings lustily in church’ and ‘tips staff in a private house and a gamekeeper in the shooting feld’. Obviously both were written with tongue frmly in cheek so aren’t meant to be taken seriously. But as the world changes (I haven’t watched anything on Blu-ray since 2010; and have totally gone cold turkey on grouse shooting), the rules we live by need to keep pace and adapt. I’ve heard it said that a gentleman doesn’t offer unsolicited advice – but you asked for this, right? Good. Here goes. Always be on time. Punctuality makes life much less sweary, sweaty and stressful. If you make someone wait, you’re effectively telling them your time is more valuable than theirs. The key exception is going to a friend’s for dinner, in which case it’s polite to give 15 minutes’ grace before hammering on the door, demanding pie and ale. Keep promises. If you commit to something, follow through. Nike’s slogan is ‘Just Do It’ not, ‘Just send a text 10 minutes before saying you’re ill and then fre up Call of Duty.’ Technology has turned us into the rudest, flakiest generation ever. Make a decision, stick with it, be satisfed. In theory, more options equals better. In practice, not so much. When there are limitless options – be it on Tinder or Yelp or online shopping sites – we suffer the Paradox of Choice and are left paralysed by indecision. And even when we’ve fnally made a choice, we can’t help that nagging feeling there might be something better around the corner. This means contentment is nigh on impossible. So, make the most of what you have, rather than try to grasp what you don’t. Even when in a rush, remember your Ps and Qs. Don’t just say thank you – write it in a card. Use grammar correctly in text messages. Hang out with positive people. Regularly tell your loved ones you love them – and show them you mean it. Yes, yes, life is super hectic but no one is too busy to call his parents once a week. Don’t just phone home when you need something, and spend time getting to know mum and dad better because you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Learn how to tie a bow tie, build a one-match log fre, carve a roast, give a toast. Sure, there are Youtube tutorials for these things but they should already be part of your man-skillset. Also: understand cooking is as much a test of masculinity as sport, sex and parking. Know that if you decide to date a friend’s ex, you’ll end up with an ex friend. Is that a trade worth making? Forget all that guff about ‘peacocking’ and ‘negging’ that you read in The Game a few years ago. These shady dating tactics may work, but that doesn’t mean you should employ them. Be yourself, not a faux-cocky version of you who wears a fedora so that he can then trot out a pre-pared line when someone comments on it. Stay in shape. You owe it to your partner not to undo the top button on life’s trousers and give up. Always put out the best version of you because that shows respect to those around you. Make an effort. OK, fne, so I’m guilty of showing off with a polysyllabic word where a more readily intelligible one would be better. But any man who deliberately sprays around nonsense jargon and acronyms (TLAS) to bamboozle, impress or disguise ignorance, and thus exclude people from the conversation, is an AFW. Always get your round in – even if you’re only staying for one. No-one likes a cheapskate. Don’t click fngers or wave money to get attention. Carry cash but not to be flash. Never order the magnum. Read more. Be open-minded and listen – even to vegans. Try new places, new tastes, new points of view. It’ll keep you younger than any face cream. Don’t force phone conversations on others on public transport. Switch off your mobile at the dinner table. Whether you walk the dog, go for a run or spend 20 minutes meditating, take time out for yourself each day. Power down to power up. Wake up and smell the roses. Drink the coffee. Never underestimate the importance of eye contact and fresh breath. Buy flowers just because. Remember that ‘afteryou’ gallantry isn’t always appropriate – sometimes it is more chivalrous to go frst: when ascending an escalator (so you’re not staring at her arse); when getting into the back of a car (so she doesn’t have to scoot across the seat); when pushing through swing doors (as long as you then hold them open). Modern chivalry is not a rote set of empty gestures. It’s about treating others – men and women – as you would wish to be treated. I could go on but you get the idea. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not levitating here in the lotus position of beatifcation, smiling smugly at my own brilliance. (And even if I was I wouldn’t say so – no one likes a smartarse.) I fall foul of plenty of these rules every day. Hell, I was 10 minutes late for my frst meeting with the new editor of this magazine. Not a great frst impression. But it’s important to always strive to be a better man. To wit, I must be off. I’ve my weekly appointment with Wu-tang Clan to keep. n
SO THE OSCAR BUZZ IS ALL ABOUT LEO. OR EDDIE AGAIN. BUT FOR ME THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO TOM HARDY. HE’S A SHOO-IN FOR A BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR NOMINATION IN THE REVENANT, BUT HAS TWO OUTSIDE SHOTS AT BEST ACTOR FOR HIS DUAL ROLES IN LEGEND – PLAYING BOTH RONNIE AND REGGIE KRAY, THE GANGSTER BROTHERS WHO TERRORISED LONDON IN THE 1950s AND ’60s. INDEED, HE DOES SUCH A MESMERISING JOB WITH BOTH CHARACTERS, I’D NOMINATE HIM TWICE. HE’D NEVER GO FOR IT, OF COURSE, BUT IMAGINE TOM HARDY AS THE NEXT BOND.