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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Do you think you are sufficiently decayed?

When Lady Bracknell was a gel, the physical ideal for an attractive man was that he should be tall and dark, with craggy features. If he could manage a sneering lip as well, so much the better. Bigger and stronger than the hordes of hapless, corseted young women who fell under his brooding spell, he would behave towards them in a remote and imperious manner, until one lucky individual was singled out to be crushed roughly to his manly chest, thereafter to fill the role of a demure and presentable (if largely ignored) little wife while he continued to roam the countryside in search of buxom wenches who would not be in a position to object to being tumbled in the hay by their lord and master.

If the "Britain's 100 Sexiest Men" articles which liberally bestrew the glossy magazines through which Lady Bracknell leafs in an incredulous manner when visiting her coiffeuse are anything to go by, the hearts of modern young women are stirred by a very different animal altogether. Gone are the beetling brow, the piercing eye, the chiselled jaw-line and the commanding posture. The replacement for the Heathcliffs and D'Arcys of yesteryear is an altogether slighter and less prepossessing figure. Heads are shaven, skin moisturised, and body hair removed so that, whilst not in any way, shape or form even coming close to appealing to Lady Bracknell, the young men in question can at least be assumed to excel in the area of aerodynamism. (There is no faster way to feel every one of one's advancing years than to realise that one's interest remains resolutely unstirred by one hundred out of Britain's one hundred supposedly sexiest men.)

Of course, once a lady has reached the age of reason - an age which has rather more to do with psychological maturity than with simple chronology - she eschews the physical standards which the media would have her believe are those of the perfect man and, over time, develops her own list of preferences. Whilst Lady Bracknell has no truck with those who believe that all should strive to conform with the current idea of physical attractiveness (and that those who cannot do so are doomed to a life of abject misery and social failure), it is also true to say that one is not attracted in a romantic capacity to every gentleman one meets, regardless of how charming he may be. There must, therefore, be certain physical attributes (albeit not necessarily the conventional ones) which either attract or repel each individual. These, fortunately, will be as varied as is the eye of the beholder in which their beauty is, or is not, found. Were it not so, some otherwise excellent persons would indeed be unfairly exiled to the fringes of society.

Having pondered the matter at some length, Lady Bracknell herewith presents (in no particular order) her own list of attributes which are likely - either for good or ill - to catch her eye.

Laughter lines - Lady Bracknell is well aware that she has said this before, and on more than one occasion. But she remains unmovable on the point of laughter lines being the single most attractive facial feature a human being can - or could wish to - possess. A gentleman who cannot laugh at himself long and hard is a gentleman who cannot pique Lady Bracknell's interest, no matter how handsome or well-mannered he may otherwise be. (Lady Bracknell is very pleased to report that laughter lines are at long last beginning to appear on her own face. It is something of a challenge to develop facial lines when one is stout of figure and possessed of a clear complexion, but Lady Bracknell's hard work in this area has begun to pay dividends.)

Avoirdupois - it is Lady Bracknell's considered opinion that a gentleman who has reached his middle years should be able to demonstrate in his person the effects of his capacity to enjoy the innocent pleasures which life has to offer, be those pleasures of the cake variety, or the ale. Lady Bracknell views the whippet-thin middle-aged gentleman with suspicion, assuming that he is either coldly austere in his personal habits, or possessed of such a degree of nervous, fidgety energy that no calorie he consumes is ever given the chance to transmute into a gram of fat and come to rest on his slender frame. Ladies with seriously-injured backs cannot comfortably think of reclining in trysts with gentlemen who cannot keep still.

Apparel - one can deduce a considerable amount about a gentleman from the fabrics in which he chooses to clothe himself. A gentleman who prizes tactile pleasure will plump for natural fabrics such as cotton or linen, and for textures such as moleskin, corduroy and leather. No gentleman who clothes himself in polyester will ever have a place in Lady Bracknell's heart, no matter how "easy care" his laundry requirements may be. Whilst he need by no means be a stickler for formal dress codes, the gentleman who wishes to win Lady Bracknell's heart will know that there are some garments which are simply incapable of oozing sex appeal: e.g. the anorak.

Hair (or the lack of same) - no lady worth her salt would reject a gentleman on the grounds of his simply being bald. There is, however, a vast gulf between those gentleman who - on realising that their hair is receding - merely shrug; have it cut short; and continue with the important matters of life uninterrupted, and those who make futile endeavours to disguise their ever-widening centre parting. Comb-overs are grim beyond Lady Bracknell's talent to describe. If Sir Elton John, with all the money he has at his disposal, cannot purchase a solution which convincingly replicates the appearance of a full head of hair in all weather conditions, then Lady Bracknell believes it is safe to assume that no such solution exists. Baldness per se is not unattractive: desperate attempts to conceal it, on the other hand, are.

Height (or the lack of same) - Lady Bracknell has never understood why so many of her gender will automatically reject men who are not significantly taller than they themselves are in their highest and most teetering heels. A gentleman's height is wholly irrelevant to Lady Bracknell who, as her regular readers must by now be aware, pays very little regard to the "norms" which society in general attempts to impose on her. The view that a gentleman must be taller than the lady whom he is escorting is an entirely arbitrary one, particularly given that we live in a time in which it is unlikely that a ravening bear will leap, with murderous intent, into the path of a courting couple and submit to being beaten off only by a man of superior height and consequent reach of arm.

So there we have it. From reading the above, it has become clear to Lady Bracknell that her only absolute physical requirements in a gentleman at whom she might be drawn to setting her cap is that he have laughter lines, be comfortably upholstered, and avoid synthetic fabrics like the plague. She trusts, therefore, that no-one could accuse her of being either overly-particular or "hung up" on physical appearances.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kind eyes are good - and a little crinkly too. Good hands, without clammy palms, neat nails. A nice sit-upon. Good quality socks. And I share Lady Bracknell's aversion to skinniness and anoraks. I do prefer a little height to my gentlemen, but not so much it puts my neck out.

A while back, a group of friends and I compiled a Banned List. It goes into greater detail than this, and includes Banned Names. Everyone (and I've asked a LOT of people) has at least one name he or she simply cannot countenance.

Nice to know we're not shallow...

3:52 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is now extremely curious about the content of the Banned List...

3:55 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Well, well. Wrinkles round the eyes (her Ladyship doesn't mention whether wrinkles in other areas are a turn-off), plump, short, balding - I even have the corduroys. How her Ladyship has managed to resist me all these years is a total mystery to me.

May I enquire also, whether the gentleman's reactions to our feline friends enters into the case? Personally I could not give house room to anyone of any sex who didn't like cats.

6:18 pm  
Blogger BloggingMone said...

I fully agree with that list.
May I add that white socks in general and white socks in sandals in particular are appalling if worn by men of whatever age, size or figure.

6:45 pm  
Blogger Queen_Mum said...

Alas! My single son fails miserably in these categories. All my dreams of bringing together a match between my 47 year old boy and Lady Bracknell are shattered. If only I had known what a proper English "gel" looks for in a man.

7:03 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Alas for Mr Dawson, Lady Bracknell recalls his having made mention in the pages of his own blog of needing to run his anorak through the tumble dryer after a particularly rainy visit to his foul.

7:41 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Mone may indeed make reference to the inadvisability of the white sock.

Lady Bracknell herself toyed with the idea of mentioning socks worn with sandals in the same breath as the anorak, but eventually decided against so doing for reasons which now escape her.

7:43 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Should the Queen Mum's son be half as entertaining as are his mother and his sister, Lady Bracknell may be prepared to relax her usually stringent requirements.

Unless, of course, he is a wriggler.

7:45 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I claim exemption for the anorak on disability grounds.

It is worn to provide a quilted protection for my (excuse my mentioning this) shoulders and lumbar region which are particularly liable to The Twinging Screws when affected by cold draughts.

Lady Bracknell surely would not deprive a poor cripple of his aids? Surely a reasonable adjustment would meet the case - I won't wear the anorak indoors.

And I neverwear socks with sandals, or white socks at any time.

8:13 pm  
Blogger Mr Chuckles said...

Ah, Lady B. Such wisdom in one so young is rare indeed.

As to the height issue, as my dear old mother (God bless her!) always used to say "They're all the same height lying down"!

9:11 pm  
Blogger marmiteboy said...

I say!! Doesn't Lady Brackenll think that she may be being a little forward. I know in this day and age a lady is able to express such things but there is decorum to be kept to ;-)

9:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My he's a saucy one, that Mr Chuckles, and no mistake!

Regretably, my old mum never said anything of the sort. Mind you, what my old dad said is completely unrepeatable among such decorous company as your ladyship normally keeps.

12:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My I just take this opportunity to express my appeciation that Your Ladyship is such a fine equal opportunities employer.

Notwithstanding that virtually all of my own attributes, physical, tonsorial and sartorial, would prevent me from even attaining a ranking of 101 in your own personal top 100 - what with me being such a skinny, hyperactive yet monotonously dull sort, to say nothing of the Bobby Charlton scrape-over, the permanent sweat-patches which adorn the underarm areas of my drip-dry "Bri-Nylon" shirt and tightly-belted polyester khaki safari suit, or the off-white towelling socks paired with scuffed ivory brothel-creepers - you still maintain a place for me in your household staff.

For this, I am eternally indebted.



12:43 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Perhaps the Dude will excuse Lady Bracknell? She is feeling a trifle unwell...

6:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God I love the way you write....

10:35 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Right at this very moment, what's making me REALLY happy about my boyfriend is that he is, of his own volition, making me a cup of tea. Appropriate provision of a lady's* favoured beverages is key in the quest to win her heart.

*it works on me too

1:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely the "Banned List" mentioned by Sphinxqueen would consist of every name there is, other than "Ernest"?

4:10 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Ah, yes: a most percipient point!

5:05 pm  
Blogger Lily said...

May I recommend to your august personage, a gentleman close to my own heart who would appear to meet your very exacting criteria - the delightful Monsieur Gerard Depardieu. Raucous of laughter and the lines to prove it, bon viveur and the girth to rue it, he strikes me as likely to wear fabrics as natural as his nature (pause to reflect on image of burly frame in billowing cotton shirt and leather britches....) ahem, where was I? Oh yes, a respectable height and a very fine head of hair. Dammit, you can't have him, he's mine!

7:19 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Monsieur Depardieu does not stir Lady Bracknell's interest: this may be because - flying, as she generally does, in the face of public opinion - Lady Bracknell does not find the French accent appealing.

Ken Stott, on the other hand....

10:29 am  
Blogger Lily said...

Oh good, that means I also get to keep Jean Reno!

6:18 pm  

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