How many of these life rules do you live by?

James Dean wearing glasses in a tux

I was sat in a Soho restaurant last week, chewing the cud with an old friend over rib eye and a glass of claret. To our left, a young couple were clearly on their first date. It seemed to be going well – not that we were eavesdropping; such is the intimacy of the layout, you are practically sharing a seat with everyone else in the fine establishment. It’s part of its charm.

Anyway, she was laughing, he was laughing, his etiquette was in full swing, and they ordered pudding – which clearly meant they weren’t trying to run away from one another – and, although no Cupid, my money would have been on a second date being easily secured. But then the bill came…

James Dean and Ursula Andress

As my supper companion was detailing his new-found love for the ‘secret steak sauce’ we were both suddenly rendered silent, only for a moment, so as not to show our shock, as said young man on the date proffered: “Shall we split it?”

As faux pas go, this is about as acceptable as pushing your 99-year-old granny down a flight of car park stairs, having dragged her up there by her hair in the first place. No. After a quick dip into mathematical division, both bank cards were presented for the waiter, before they slid their chairs under the table and made for the door – my safe bet on a second date abruptly given extremely long odds.

Surely, gents, this is one of life’s rules that every gentleman should live by. It would appear that standards are falling by the wayside, so here are a few more…

1. Never split the bill
2. Don’t go after a friend’s wife or girlfriend
3. Keep a secret when told in confidence
4. Learn the craft of small talk
5. Never cancel at the last minute – this is a sure fire way to not be invited back
6. Never be late – unless carrying a worthy excuse. Maybe not even then
7. Use failure as a spur to push forward
8. Remember manners at all times – opening doors, giving up seats, walking kerbside, etc.
9. Be interested and interesting – be the man people want to be seated near at dinner parties
10. Know your alcohol limits, and respect them
11. Better to be loved and hated, rather than liked by all
12. Avoid anger without reason – the tube strike is not one
13. Never turn up to a party, friend’s house, or supper empty handed
14. Know when to tip
15. Buy your round of drinks when it comes, without having to be prompted
16. Know when you’re wrong, and when to say sorry
17. Understand that chivalry is NOT dead
18. Say thank you, a lot. It goes a long way. And always send a thank you letter
19. Leave your arrogance in your teens
20. Give everyone a chance – if only a brief one
21. Choose books over television
22. Don’t crave being the centre of attention
23. Take a risk every now and then, and break out of your comfort zone. Regret is a nasty thing
24. Be spontaneous
25. Learn to relax and let go – life’s too short to just commute, work, eat and sleep
26. Confront boredom by making a change
27. Be confident, but accept when you’re in need of help
28. Take a compliment as well as you can give one
29. Watch what you eat, take care of what you wear and have pride in how you conduct yourself
30. Travel whenever possible. Follow passions and indulge in guilty pleasures

Further Reading