Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Something for the Boys

I have not read very much of this magazine, THE (secret) journal of Young Fogeys, so I do not know if it 100% Catholic compliant. I doubt it, actually, but what I have seen so far I have enjoyed.

I find "The Chap Manifesto" particularly amusing, although I deplore the idea that men should smoke quite that much. My grandfather, himself a snappy dresser inspired by film noir, smoked like a chimney and died of a massive heart attack at 65. Thus my grandmother was a widow at 60 and very unhappy about it. Not that she stopped smoking herself for another 10 years or so, but I digress.

Any man who lives by "The Chap Manifesto" would dismiss my objections as feminine twittering and go selectively deaf, hearing snapping back on only when someone asked me what was for pudding or what it was X said about Y when Z was in the room.

The wonderful thing about the Single men I know in Britain is that they wear Singledom so well. They are very interested in philosophy, theology, politics, literature, art, clothing, conversation, dining out, cocktail parties and all of that, and if the topic of marriage comes up they nod thoughtfully as if marriage is something to which they ought to get around one of these days.

At no point do they sound off against feminism, which they usually pretend does not exist, unless they are teasing someone like me, and this happens but rarely, and usually under the influence of alcohol.I cannot stress enough that the Single men I know in the UK do not react to the whole subject of women and marriage with sudden diatribes against feminism.

No, the Single Young Fogey is calm, cool, and collected. He gives the impression that if he marries, it will be because he was at a country house/Highland cottage party where absolutely splendid girls abounded, and while rowing a pretty girl in linen and a picture hat in a nearby pond, he suddenly proposed and she accepted. Meanwhile, as he has no idea which country house/Highland cottage party this will be, he just gets on with the business of life, hunting down the prefect brogues and stocking the humidor.

I get the impression sometimes that some men think they are not really men unless they have a woman. But this has never been an issue for traditional university men in Britain. I don't know about the 1960s, Guardian-reading, red-brick men: perhaps they feel like the world would judge them harshly if they turned up at parties without trophy women on their arms. But this is not a thought that seems to torture the Young Fogey, I am happy to say.


Anna said...

Sigh. It is so tiresome to pop over to the Manosphere only to be informed that women demand too much These Days thanks to feminism and modern women are the reason why modern men are unhappy.

Seraphic said...

Yes. That's why men who just get on with masculine pursuits are so refreshing to talk to, if and when you get to talk to them.

amlovesmusic said...

Men in Britain sound wonderful, both in accent and in decorum. *sigh*

I heartily disagree with #'s 2 and 10. I find smoking or chewing absolutely disgusting, with the exception of the OCCASIONAL cigar. And facial hair is rarely attractive to me.

Oh, and as for jeans.....jeans can look quite spiffy, if they are dark wash and fit well. I love the button-up shirt, vest, and dark wash jeans look.

Seraphic said...

Hmm. Decorum. Let's not go crazy here. We are talking about a very small rearguard action. The YFs are in total rebellion against post-1963 Britain.

I shall have to think of a list of films that illustrate the very post-1963ness of Britain.

Cyngle said...

Male non-Catholic lurker here.

I think demanding us to be a combination of your grandfather and an Oxford humanities teacher is a little much. Or someone auditioning for the BBC production of Brideshead Revisited.

I lurk and read you because you are an entertaining and perceptive writer, and this is a window on a world I am not a part of. But there's looking good, and there is playing a part, and those chaps are playing a part. I don't think that will be as healthy as you think. There's a reason why the dandy was almost always the villain in a lot of old melodrama.

Mustard Seed said...

I dated a friendly young neighborhood fogey for a little while last year. One beautiful spring day, he walked over to my house so that we could go out to dinner. Not long after he arrived, I wondered aloud (in genuine confusion) why the air reeked of tobacco smoke, as it was rare for anyone in my building to smoke indoors. Turned out the man had smoked a dang pipeful of tobacco on the way over, probably around the same time I was brushing my teeth in order to ensure fresh breath. When I asked him (politely) why he did that, he said "well it's such a beautiful day out, it seemed like a pipe could only make things better."

Anyway, in hindsight and even at the time, this was hilarious, but I've noticed that men can get very very stubborn about the health risks and grossness of pipe/cigar smoking. They will outright deny that it's even possible that smoking could be unhealthy and/or gross. I realize that the latter is a matter of opinion, but still. It is like talking to a brick wall.

Nerd Girl said...

Cyngle, I share your apprehension (as a 23 y/o, American, old-fashioned-inclined but-wary-of-pretension woman). Maybe it's different when there's enough of a subculture to sort of naturalize that kind of behavior and attract a subset of men who can take to it more unselfconsciously. But the "my tweed is tweedier than thine" guys in my experience, well, make me wary. Affectation can often make me wonder what a guy would expect of me or how much I can trust him to be genuine. But I've never been around this crowd in the UK, so it might be very different and more harmless there.

Seraphic said...

Cyngle, actually, I offered the link for the amusement of all. I certainly do not demand that men be anything (except polite, decent human beings); my constant refrain is that men are who you are and not (necessarily) who women want you to be.

That said, no proper Young Fogey would ever tie a lady to the railway tracks.

I wonder what the American equivalent of the Young Fogey might be. The lone cowboy (e.g. Shane) who is a perfect gentleman to the ladies but can't be tied down is a familiar American archetype. Then there's Luke Skywalker, although I am not sure Jedi Knight is really anything to base one's life upon. And then there's the priest.

Other than those, I can't think of American models of the chaste and noble Single life for men. Woman-ownership (even if just a series of temporary arrangements) seems like such a big deal for men across the pond. Only in this sceptred isle can a man wear his respectable bachelorhood with pride and in company with other such men and with similar attired men who actually are married, but wear that lightly, too.

Seraphic said...

By the way, no-one I associate with on a regular basis is playing a part.

Jane said...

There isn't really an American equivalent of the Young Fogey, and in the absence of that, some young American men have adopted the British model. Not all wear tweed, though some do. Many of them smoke pipes or cigars, and some drink scotch (an unusual preference in Americans under 30 years old). It's especially prevalent amongst Catholic philosophy and Classics majors, and if they spent a semester or two in a study-abroad program in England or Scotland it's practically mandatory.

It sometimes comes across as being an act or a bit pretentious, but it depends a lot on the man. The philosophy graduate student and father of two who wears a tweed jacket to teach and smokes a pipe with his friends on cold winter evenings seems natural. The one who wore a tweed jacket and hat and smoked a pipe in the middle of an afternoon in July, in 90-degree heat and 70% humidity, was clearly acting.

Nerd Girl said...

Yes, I should have added that I have also known several Young Fogeys, at least two or three of whom I felt to be genuine and awesome men. (the demographics provided by Jane are right-on.) But let's just say I've also known one or two who just tried, and they wore their (metaphorical) bowties a little too proudly. But they were young, so insecurity comes with the territory. And people try on all kinds of acts - but the "upright young old-fashioned fellow" thing, if displayed too brightly, gives me a little pause, as a similarly young woman. (I don't know if women who are into old-fashioned dress and behavior posture in a similar way...)

To put this in Mad Men terms (since we are talking early 60s), I am scared stiff of the Pete Campbells but hope that most of them are Harry Cranes.

Louise said...

Amlovesmusic, Seraphic is completely right that this ia very small subset of British men. It is a lovely subset, when the people in question are not acting and have not let the ancient-ness of their university and love of Brideshead get to their head (as many of my compatriots at an old British uni were want to do), but it is not representative of the majority or even a significant minority of British men.