This is the feeling I got recently when someone turned to me and said “you are a gentleman”.
It wasn’t a reflection on the school I went to, a posh accent and I’m not sure the person saying it really got a chance to look at what I was wearing. It was as a result of a small action which took me just three minutes and which I did without thinking really.
But being told I was a gentleman left me feeling on top of the world for a couple of days and it led me to reflect on how a tiny phrase like this can mean so much.
I would like to think that at my ‘advanced age’ I do most gentlemanly acts automatically but when I am rushing to get somewhere on the tube or driving to a meeting and running a bit late due to the inclement weather the pressure of time can lead to some slippage in normal gentlemanly manners.
There has also recently been some correspondence in the popular press about what some modern women see as the slightly condescending nature of a gentleman holding a door open. I think that is a very simple matter. I like to think that I show common courtesy, such as holding a door open, to all my fellow humans irrespective of age, sex, creed or colour. On that basis I’m quite happy that I don’t look down on anyone and I don’t do it from any sense of pity or sexism, I just do it.
Being courteous in everyday life, doing little things like saying please and thank-you, being polite and gentlemanly in your demeanour costs nothing, takes very little extra time in your day and is a lubricant which can make life for everyone so much more pleasant.
Who knows, if your actions are copied by one person and then another it may catch on and then what a pleasant place the world would be.
And then one day someone will recognise some small courtesy you have done and tell you “you are a gentleman” and trust me, that sets you up for days!