Whilst a large part of The “Revision” Period has been spent on litres of tea, highlighters and a high-score on Draw Something; the Downton Abbey box-set has also been added to the list of prime procrastinators. Nights in Timepiece have been traded for lavish banquets and no lacrosse boy can compete with Crawley. What really started to interest me however, (other than Dan Steven) was the way these Lords treated their Ladies.
In days gone by, men walked on the kerbside, held-open doors and stood when we entered a room as faultless manners and polite masculinity were the crucial character of any British gent. Today, however, apart from the occasional call of “Ladies in the Yard”, there is little reference to such everyday etiquette. As the Duke of Edinburgh once candidly noted; “when a man holds open a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife”.
Now, call me old fashioned but I will want my fiancée to ask my Dad’s permission, coat me when I’m cold and stand when I do. Dragons may no longer exist, but this does not mean we should discard the knights in shining armour. Then again, if we are still fighting for equality: for equal pay; “chairwomen;” and “Her-story” can we really demand the gallantries of the Downton gent? I mean, can we have our cake, eat it and still expect the man to pay for it? When you think about it, it is unsurprising that men now fear such etiquette as we accuse modern manners of being chauvinistic criticisms. The way I see it, if girls hadn’t started burning their bras, men would still hold open doors for us.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would not sacrifice my right to vote, education or property just to live like a Lady: I just don’t want to see modern manners deteriorate into a swearing spit-ball of anti-social behaviour. Men don’t need to bow when they meet us or kiss our feet but there are still some common courtesies that should be observed. Doors should be held, jackets should be sacrificed and whoever requests the pleasure, pays for the pleasure... When eating-out, I mean.
Our feminist rants may have confused the courtesies of today but no matter what the century or class, there should always be room for “after you, Darling”.