It is a question which has entertained Britain many times over many years, of course, but Country Life kicked off a rerun of the debate in its May issue by announcing its Gentleman of the Year Awards, in association with Cordings,  a posh Piccadilly tailor.

Reporters Rupert Uloth and Emma Hughes offered 10 Commandments of Gentlemanliness …

1) A gentleman is at ease in any situation- and puts others at their ease.

2) A gentleman is always on time.

3) A gentleman dresses to suit the occasion.

4) A gentleman will eat anything that’s put in front of him.

5) A gentleman makes love on his elbows.

6) A gentleman will occasionally be drunk-but never disorderly.

7) A gentleman doesn’t flash his cash and is mindful of others’ financial circumstances when choosing a restaurant or booking group holidays.

8) A gentleman is more interested in finding out how you are than in telling you about himself.

9) A gentleman’s word is his bond.

10) A gentleman can talk to anyone.

More controversially, they added  that a gent never …

* Drinks Malibu

* Buys fuchsia trousers

* Tweets

* Puts products in his hair

* Wears Lycra

* Writes with a Biro

* Forgets his wristwatch

* Plants gladioli

* Walks out on a play

* Owns a cat

* Finishes his food before everyone else

* Has a speedboat

Philip Hensher gratefully picked up the offer of the angle in the Guardian on April 26 and started a run of readers’ letters including …

Leslie Kant of Norwich:

“In our family a gentleman was someone who always put the seat back after use.”

Geraldine Blake of Worthing:

“I read somewhere that a gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn’t.”

Bridget John of Oxford:

“I was always told that a gentleman was someone who got out of the bath to pee in the basin.”

John Cranston of Norwich:

“It’s been said that a gentleman uses a butter knife even when dining alone.” 


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