30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2)

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Books)

Congratulations Mr Trump (2).png

I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the books that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

A Princess of Mars- Edgar Rice Burroughs 

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War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 

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Ulysses- James Joyce 

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The Iliad- Homer

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Journey To The Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne 

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Frank Sinatra Has A Cold- Gay Talese 

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Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog)- Jerome K Jerome

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The Time Machine- H.G Wells

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Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

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Animal Farm- George Orwell

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The Last Of The Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

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The Man Who Would Be King- Rudyard Kipling 

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Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman

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A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court- Mark Twain

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Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years- Sue Townsend 

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The Fight-Norman Mailer 

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The Turn Of The Screw-Henry James

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The Stand- Stephen King

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Notes Of A Dirty Old Man- Charles Bukowski 

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Children Of Hurin- J.R.R Tolkein 

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Idylls Of The King- Alfred Tennyson

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater-Thomas de Quincey

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Little Women- Louisa May Alcott 

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A Little History Of The World- E.H Gombrich 

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The Mysterious Affair At Styles- Agatha Christie 

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Who Censored Roger Rabbit- Gary K Wolf

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Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance-  Robert M. Pirsig

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The Day Of The Triffids- John Wyndham 

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Winds of Winter- George R.R. Martin (Because surely this’ll be finished before the TV series)

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

 

 

 

 

The Lazy Ramblings Of A Lazy Guy (On Being In Love)

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I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being In Love 

Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.

That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.

Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.

This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.

 

The Lazy Ramblings of A Lazy Guy (On Being Idle)

 

The Man Down My Local (1).pngI was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics

  1. ON BEING IDLE.
  2. ON BEING IN LOVE.
  3. ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
  4. ON BEING HARD UP.
  5. ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
  6. ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
  7. ON THE WEATHER.
  8. ON CATS AND DOGS.
  9. ON BEING SHY.
  10. ON BABIES.
  11. ON EATING AND DRINKING.
  12. ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
  13. ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
  14. ON MEMORY.

Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)

On Being Idle

Laziness is both a blessing and a curse, there is nothing more satisfying than spending a day lazing about on the sofa, especially when you know that there are plenty of more important things that you could be doing, and therein lies the curse. Having to put aside that bliss, can prove difficult and indeed a real hardship and can even lead to outright resentment. Or at least this is how I feel. I’ve now reached the point where I actually hate to have to do things. When people interrupt my doing nothing I really do get a little bit angry about the whole thing.

Since the advent of the internet the whole staying in thing really has taken off, with the world of online streaming services and takeaway foods that you don’t even have to speak to people to get, the world of insular laziness has actually become more and more of a easy thing to achieve.

Laziness and indeed idleness itself is a state of mind, its where you sacrifice any sort of social life just to achieve the pleasure that comes from doing nothing. It’s hard to get into the head space required to want to do nothing but watch Game of Thrones in your pants while eating cereal straight from the box.

There are some people who couldn’t be lazy if their lives depended on it. They just lack that lack of drive. They have too much motivation, too much determination to just get things done. The world would stop without those people, without them we wouldn’t have anything. But thanks to those people the rest of us, those lazy fellows can enjoy the things those great enablers have given us. Thanks to them we can vegetate until we fuse to with our sofas, until bed sores set in and until we have to wash ourselves with rags on sticks.

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The world takes a dim view of laziness, but to those who say this is say to you…meh I’ll tell you later.

 

This is the first in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man. 

From Netflix and Chill to Dressing to Kill (101 Tips For The Modern Gentleman)

  1. Knowing a good florist is a must, whether getting a mothers day bouquet or a dozen roses for that special somebody, nothing says I care less than the words Tesco’s Own, it also shows that you give a damn beyond some passing thought whilst buying beer.
  2. A true gentleman knows his good points and his bad and whilst you should always accentuate your good points there is absolutely no reason to shy away and mask your bad points. If you have a blocked sink, call a plumber. If you don’t know which end of a paintbrush is up call a decorator. There is nothing unmanly about it, knowing what I do about myself and lack of prowess with a wrench my last struggle involving a toilet will  be teaching my daughter to use one.
  3. A real man changes his bed sheets weekly, as well as this you should own more than one set of bed sheets, you’re not in university any more.
  4. Work out a “look” early on, I’ve been the guy in a suit since 17, you should experiment with styles until you find one that works for you and remember that dressing well is its own reward.
  5. Know a good jeweller, even if you’re single, it’s good to know one, even if its just for your own watches and cufflinks.
  6. Always tip waiters and waitresses even if service is poor. You don’t know whats going on in their life, or if this poor service is the result of a bad day, incompetent co workers or a manager with a personality akin to Seabiscuit’s nether regions. Chances are poor service isn’t solely down to them alone and a decent tip may make it a better service for the next person.
  7. Familiarise yourself with the menu’s and wine list’s of at least three fine dining establishments (including one vegetarian spot) knowing the menus and winelists will make it easier to steer the bill to suit your budget and a good recommendation on the wine goes a lot further than “a bottle of the house red please”.
  8. chivalry may not be dead but it is on life support. these days its not the norm to pull out chairs or stand whenever a woman leaves the table. In this day and age a I settle for a sort of half chivalry, I’ll stand to greet a woman and always offer up my seat in a crowded bar or on public transport, I will always hold the door open for anyone, regardless of gender, I tell myself that I’ll start acting in strict accordance with the chivalric code the very moment I’m knighted
  9. All men Should Own a decent suit, a tailored suit is to women as expensive lingerie is to men.
  10. Never wear a hat indoors unless you work in a kitchen or on building site.
  11. A gentleman should always have about his person: a working pen, a handkerchief and a lighter, as you may never know when you or even better a young lady may need one.
  12. A good knowledge of wines and spirits for the man about is a must. Putting lemonade in smirnoff is acceptable, putting it in grey goose is a capital crime. Similarly not knowing the difference between sparkling wine and champagne is something no one should be guilty of. Even if you don’t like a particular spirit or aren’t a wine drinker a little education is no bad thing.
  13. You should always endeavour to treat those who are gender reassigning as you would any member of that persons chosen gender, and whilst I’m sure I personally will put my foot in it and occasionally  use the wrong pronoun I don’t do so from bumbling ignorance, not from malice, it’s just that I find gender politics hard enough to navigate under normal circumstances, let alone when someone is trying to cross the floor.
  14. Whilst a gentleman may possess a wonderful singing voice, when he chooses to employ it is important, after a rugby match can be overlooked , karaoke can be forgiven if not forgotten. But under no circumstances should a chap engage in a boozy kebab infused rendition of Wonderwall, even if he happens to make up one third of the three tenors.
  15. You should always strive to remember everyone’s name and one fact about them, this simple act can boost the confidence of almost anyone, as it shows that a near complete stranger thinks enough of them to take an interest in their life.
  16. Learn a little about art, even if its just learning to say you don’t like something with a touch of eloquence.
  17. There is nothing wrong with a little culture, Britain is a land of stately homes, art galleries and museums, why not acquaint yourself with the cultural melting pot that is Britain, In Wales, all museums are free and host impressive collections of historical artefacts and art ranging from Pre-Raphaelite beauties to modern art reminiscent to something hanging on my fridge. This does prove, in spite of what the newspapers say, culture can be found outside of the M25.
  18. A man should always have at his disposal a selection of wines and spirits (including a red a white, and a rosé all above the £7 mark) and the spirits should be drinkable alone but also shouldn’t make you want to weep if someone asks for a mixer.
  19. you should never underestimate the power of being well informed, watching the news or reading a newspaper regularly will not only increase your understanding of current events and the  world in general, but will provide you with ample conversation topics and is proven to increase your IQ.
  20. Having survived this long in your life you should know that when a woman asks “how do I look in this?” your automatic response should be “you look great”. This however is NOT the case. You should answer honestly, if a colour doesn’t work for her, tell her. Don’t be harsh in your criticism, explain your opinion delicately, shes asked for your opinion, give it. She’ll probably respect you more for it.
  21. A gentleman will under no circumstances post explicit materials of any persons they have been intimate with on the internet and will not share these images with friends, regardless of break up circumstances or any other mitigating factor.
  22. Good manners should be the norm, not a means to to get into someones undergarments, just because you’re polite to someone does not guarantee VIP access to their genitalia. Do not then accuse that person of leading you on, I fail to see why people feel they should be rewarded for behaving the way they are meant to behave.
  23. Being a single man can be both amazing and frustrating in equal measure in equal measure. Most frustrating is trying to determine weather or not someone is into you. I have a simple trick. This Text “Hey [insert name here] hows it going I was wondering if you  wanted to [activity] on [day]. How they answer should give you some indication of how they feel. A resounding yes is a pretty clear, however if they reply with an “I’m busy sorry” there are two interpretations to this answer, either they are legitimately busy or trying to let you down gently. I’ve only ever found one way to work out which, reply exactly “no problem, maybe some other time.” How your intended replies will be the give away. If they reply offering alternative dates/times you’re in, if there’s no reply it may be time to move on.
  24. A mans home is his castle and he should rule with an iron fist from throne room to kitchen, no man should fear pots and pans, all men should learn to cook a few simple dishes and learn them well and remember that presentation is everything.
  25. A true gent will avoid firearms unless he plans to eat what he kills.
  26. One should always know how to make a number of cocktails, some basics are; a  screwdriver and a sex on the beach.
  27. Always strive for the perfect Martini, knowing full well that you will never achieve it.
  28. Talking about money depresses people, there is nothing more puerile than talking about the size of your (ahem) endowment.
  29. always pass the port to the left, even if you don’t touch the stuff yourself.
  30. All gentlemen should own a corkscrew
  31. The correct way to make tea is; teabag then boiling water, allow to brew for about a minute, then add sugar and finally milk
  32. Basic use of cutlery should be instilled at a very young age, but since none of us can help our upbringing, remember, the knife goes to the right and the fork to the left. Regardless of need, a knife should always be picked up and held at all meal times. A spoon should be used in the right hand and elbows should never touch the table.
  33. Keeping abreast of fashion is a must, if only to know what to avoid, crocs are a crime against nature, let alone fashion.
  34. you should learn some basic DIY skills there is something almost therapeutic about beating something with a hammer for constructive purposes.
  35. When hosting a dinner party you should not serve food that was ordered from justeat
  36. A gentleman should follow sport, if only to know what’s going on when it appears on TV.
  37. Learning to sew is a useful tip for the modern gent as “make do and mend” is a trend that has fallen by the wayside, but it makes your clothes last and keeps you looking better for longer.
  38. You as a gentleman should never underestimate the power of live performance, and you should regularly partake in the majesty pf theater, ballet and opera, not only to broaden your mind, but they will often broaden your social standing as well.
  39. You should always give money to buskers, regardless of their musical talents.
  40. A gentleman should always offer to pay, but shouldn’t be threatened by going dutch.
  41. Flip Flops are a no
  42. A man should always try to maintain his appearance, you may run to fat or lose your hair, but you should always try to make the most out of what you have to work with.
  43. One should always strive to be on time, the universe may conspire to foil you in this, but the effort should be made.
  44. A mobile phone should be used only when needed, not as a social crutch.
  45. A man should imbibe enough to become fun, but stop before becoming a figure of fun.
  46. No man should ever have a name for his penis
  47. A sane man should always read his contracts word for word and should not shy away from asking for clarification or changes to be made.
  48. If a tan isn’t natural it shouldn’t be had.
  49. Body hair should be kept trimmed, a body trimmer is a must.
  50. An adult should both own and know how to tie a tie.
  51. A man should know how to dance, even if he chooses not to.
  52. A chap should only ever wear swimming trunks he would be comfortable going to a bar in.
  53. Never take a date to Wetherspoons (unless they ask) if Wetherspoons is the height of culinary excellence where you live…move.
  54. Know how much tax you should be paying.
  55. Always Know the number of a reliable taxi firm.
  56. Swearing is a part of modern life but a gentlemen will stand apart from the crowd. Why not turn a “go fuck yourself” into a “go and sodomise yourself”, why not get creative with it, the more loquacious the better.
  57. Always end a relationship in person. The end of a relationship should not mean the end of common courtesy, you owe it to that person to do things face to face.
  58. Always remember that your religious views are similar to your genitals, you may enjoy them, you may receive great comfort and pleasure from them in times of need and you may think that they are better than everybody else’s and want to spread them to the four corners of the world, but please refrain from brandishing them in public.
  59. You should always have a few little tricks at your disposal for entertaining children, but remember that children are actual human beings ,so you will need something better than the never classic “got your nose”.
  60. A gentleman will not bemoan his circumstances, but instead seek to change them. Remember it’s better to light a flame thrower than curse the darkness.
  61. Never wave cash at a bartender, its undignified and wont get you served quicker.
  62. Whether texting, emailing, writing or tweeting, always use the queens English, spelling mistakes can be overlooked, but deliberate mistakes cannot, for example, like is not spelled with a Y, bae is not a word and yolo sounds like the name of a circus dwarf.
  63. Even if you love the sound of your own voice, others may not, sometimes less is more and its the quietest that speak with the loudest voice, in a meeting or social situation, others have a right to be heard.
  64. A gentleman should never lose his temper, times are sent to test us, but the times make the man, decisions made in haste will invariably go sour.
  65. Alternatively though more has been lost through indecision than choosing the wrong course of action, the key is confidence in your conviction.
  66. Always look a person in the eye when talking to them, don’t look at their feet. Observing someones body language while conversing is fine, but feet have nothing interesting to say.
  67. By now you should know what to ask for from a barber and have preprepared small talk ready for once you’ve asked them for it.
  68. Blasphemy should be avoided, especially by atheists. It’s a tad hypocritical to yell “Jesus Christ” regardless of whether you’ve hit your hand with a hammer. This rule may be overlooked as it would take the most iron willed of atheists to yell “theory of evolutionary biology and natural selection” when met with a hammer.
  69. Newborn babies, whilst the representation of innocence, purity and the future are in fact nothing more than squashed, ugly, wailing, loud masses of bodily fluids, however when presented with one a gentleman should make the generally accepted cooing noises, recitations of beauty and cuteness and appropriate comparisons between this shrill ball of vomit, urine and excrement and the adults who sired it.
  70. Talking to oneself is perfectly acceptable, sometimes its nice to have some intelligent conversation.
  71. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t know something or that you don’t know that much about a particular subject, you may learn something new and a little education goes a long way.
  72. If you do one day become a parent, remember that it is important to strike the balance between master, magistrate, mentor and mate.
  73. If you have to question your motives for being somewhere, perhaps its time to leave.
  74. A gent should know what to drink regardless of where he is, it really is a massive annoyance to be held up at a bar, or while getting coffee, by someone else’s indecision.
  75. He whose round it is shall choose the vintage.
  76. Similarly if it is your round and someone is not specific about what they want, ie “I’ll have a lager”. It is bad form to get them the cheapest brand, unless that is what they usually drink.
  77. It’s no bad thing to admit to being too broke to take part in an activity with friends. It shows you’re responsible enough to say no and the occasional night to yourself is something to be treasured.
  78. Whether netflixing or attending the cinema, you should always ask what it is your companion would like to watch, however prefacing it with what you would like to watch is acceptable.
  79. Never put a knife in your mouth
  80. It’s okay to correct a mispronunciation, but not to make fun of it.
  81. Travel, a holiday should broaden the mind, and not just diminish the liver.
  82. Even if you are an ardent pacifist, never put down someone for serving in the military. It’s a legitimate career path for many who would otherwise be written off by society and chances are an 18 old private will be earning more than most recent graduates, with the added bonus of being debt free.
  83. Become informed about politics, you don’t have to join a political party, but at election time you should look at what the candidates are saying and work out who will be best for you. nothing is more childish than voting for someone because your family has done so for decades, or worse refusing to vote outright.
  84. if you don’t drive you should have, at least, a basic knowledge of public transport in your area.
  85. Never mention a persons weight, if they’ve lost some, chances are they’ll know and if they’ve put some on chances are they wont wan’t to know.
  86. When it comes to footwear you should try and strike a balance between comfort and looking good, if you ever find a pair that are both, you should by 20 pairs of them.
  87. Real gentlemen will always have a toast ready, you never know when it’ll come in handy
  88. You should always taste food before adding salt, adding salt to something without tasting it is a little insulting at the best of times. So try it first.
  89. Animals are a good judge of character, even if you don’t like them, be nice to them.
  90. Cheese is life, make peace with it.
  91. When giving a gift, you should bear in mind that presentation is key. Even a poundland box of chocolates can be made presentable with a bow. This works wonders at Christmas time, especially for those relatives that you are obligated to buy for, but don’t want to spend a fortune on.
  92.  Whilst the health problems are highlighted everywhere, smoking is still a hobby for many men, just be wary of your surroundings and be mindful of those around you.
  93. Get a coffee maker, good coffee is worth waiting for.
  94. No mater how hot it is, a shirt should always be worn in public (exceptions can be made for swimming pools and beaches)
  95. Always give a lady the aisle seat.
  96. Announcing that you are going to the toilet is fine (preferred terms are the gent’s or the men’s room) announcing what you are going to do there however is not .
  97. Invest in a good umbrella, a cheap one will break at the most inopportune moment, one that cost £10 or more may make it through the British summertime.
  98. Knowing the rules to two or three card games is an essential skill. No one wants to sit at a bar in a casino, but alternately no one wants to lose their shirts either, so remember bet with your head not over it.
  99. The English language is a beautiful thing, don’t bastardise is with text speak.
  100. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but emoji’s are worthless
  101. Most importantly, remember that being a gentleman is not about education and status, but about a commitment to bettering yourself, being comfortable in your own skin and treating everyone with the respect that they deserve.

Hopefully this post will help you out in some way. Because it may be a mans world, but there is defiantly a long way to go until its a gentleman’s world.

Opera, An Aide De Small Talk Guide

One of my more obscure passions is opera. I know what you’re thinking, that this is a pretty weird thing for a man in his 20’s to be into, but there you have it, I am enamoured  with those foreign subsidised vowels. I’m not sure how my love of the art form came about but it is something I’ve indulged since my teens, leading my mother to be possibly the only parent ever to yell up the stairs “WILL YOU TURN DOWN THAT F***ING OPERA” to which I would invariably turn it up louder.

So here is a little look at 5 operas designed to give you something to start off with.

Pagliacci:

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Pagliacci is a fairly short Italian opera by  Ruggero Leoncavallo which premiered in Milan in May 1892. It follows the tale of the jilted clown Pagliacci and his quest for revenge on his cheating wife and her lover. As an opera in two acts the High point of the piece from my point of view, comes at the end of act one, where the great clown, upon discovering his wife’s infidelity begins preparing to take the stage for the evenings performance, it’s beautiful, haunting and really moving.

HMS Pinafore:

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H.M.S Pinafore is a comic opera in two acts by the British duo Gilbert and Sullivan. This opened at the Opera Comique and had an original run of 571 performances. The story takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain’s daughter, Josephine, is in love with a working class sailor, her father intends her to marry the slightly inbred First Lord of the Admiralty. She goes along with her father’s wishes, but her fiancee’s  advocacy of the equality of all man encourages Josephine to overturn conventional social orders and plans to elope with her true love Ralph. As with most Gilbert and Sullivan operas it feels like a pantomime, especially being in English. The best part from my point of view is the song He Is An Englishman, it evokes a national pride in me (even as a Welshman) and is both stirring and rousing at the same time.

Cavalleria Rusticana 

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The Cavalleria Rusticana is an opera in one act by Pietro Mascagni adapted from a play and short story written by Giovanni Verga. It premiered in Rome in 1890 and since 1893, due to its relatively short length, has been performed with the aforementioned Pagliacci. The story is a pretty simple one, a young farmer goes off to war, while he’s away his fiancee gets married to another man, he comes back and meets another woman, his married ex doesn’t like it, they begin an affair, then the cuckolded husband and the jilted rebound girl team up for revenge and like any good opera ends in tragedy. You may recongnise this particular opera from The Godfather Part Three. I think the best bit musically would actually be the Intermezzo, and the this opera was actually the first opera recording that I ever purchased on CD (the Maria Callas version).

Carmen

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Carmen is a four act opera by the French Composer Georges Bizet the opera was first performed at the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, the song Habanera from act 1 and the toreador Song from act 2 are among the best known of all operatic arias. The opera is written in the genre of opéra comique with musical numbers separated by dialogue. It is set in southern Spain and tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the tempestuous gypsy Carmen. José leaves his childhood sweetheart and also deserts from his military service, however he loses Carmen’s love to the toreador Escamillo, after which José  then kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of everyday life, immorality, and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, broke new ground in French opera and was highly controversial at the time, however managed to draw in non french audiences and proved extremely popular outside France, a fitting legacy for Bizet, who died after the productions 33rd performance, never knowing the success it would gain.

Der Ring des Nibelungen

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 I’m cheating somewhat as Der Ring Des Nibelungen is actually a cycle of four operas composed by Richard Wagner, comprising of Das Rheingolfd, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens of the river Rhine, intended to rule the feminine multiplicative power by a fearful magical act termed as ‘denial of love’. With the assistance of the god Loge, Wotan – the chief of the gods – steals the ring from Alberich, but is forced to hand it over to the giants, Fafner and Fasolt in payment for building the home of the gods, Valhalla, or they will take Freia, who provides the gods with the golden apples that keep them young. Wotan’s schemes to regain the ring, spanning generations, drive much of the action in the story. His grandson, the mortal Siegfried, wins the ring by slaying Fafner (who slew Fasolt for the ring) – as Wotan intended – but is eventually betrayed and slain as a result of the intrigues of Alberich’s son Hagen, who wants the ring. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde – Siegfried’s lover and Wotan’s daughter who lost her immortality for defying her father in an attempt to save Siegfried’s father Sigmund – returns the ring to the Rhine maidens as she commits suicide on Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Hagen is drowned as he attempts to recover the ring. In the process, the gods and Valhalla are destroyed. The musical high points of this saga are too numerous to mention, but most will be familiar with the piece the Ride of the Valkyries (of Apocalypse Now fame).

Hopefully you’ll all go out and immerse yourself in these great works of art, but at the very least I hope this little guide may come in useful if you ever need it for small talk, are dragged to one by a would be suitor or even need an answer in a pub quiz.