It is I, everyone’s favourite Regency time-traveler, Bertram St. James.

(I am also known by a certain name which some of my intimates insist on using for me, Bertie the Beau. Of course, I have never encouraged this habit. After all, I am modesty personified!)

(Or…do I mean humility? I can never remember which is which. Though, come to think of it, what have I to be humble about? So perhaps I do mean modesty.)


Today, I am going to talk about what holiday gifts are certain to please any true gentleman of your acquaintance, and which would be destined only to be passed off immediately to the servants.

If you are on a tight budget, these gloves are a thrifty yet delightful gift. They are lined with cashmere, of course, because no real gentleman has skin that can withstand anything rougher. And how delightful — they only cost $200! So you can buy several pairs to “stuff” (as modern folks so vulgarly put it) the silk stockings of your favorite gentleman.

(I confess, I have not yet quite grasped the need to ruin a good pair of stockings every year by filling them with presents, but as you see, I am trying to adapt myself to the customs of the year 2007.)

Here is what not to get for a gentleman, or, indeed, anyone with any claim to elegance.

Is this not the ugliest thing you have ever seen?

What grace? What beauty? What possible redeeming feature does this “watch” have?

Of course, all “wrist-watches” are inherently repellant, when it comes to aesthetic considerations. I have no idea why they were created.

If you must give a gentleman a watch, it should look like this. Graceful, pleasing, and made of precious metals.

Of course, no watch can have true elegance.

After all, why in the world would one need to know the time?

Very well, one might if one had agree to meet one’s fellows at one’s club at a certain time. But one could always rely on one’s man to send one off in time for that.

(Unless one’s man is a hedgehog, but that’s another matter entirely.)

Think about it. Whenever you see a man with a watch, you immediately know that he is some kind of clerk, rushing off to do things with papers and money and other tedious and decidedly middle-class inventions.

This is by far the best thing to give to any gentleman.

A gigantic-screened TeleVision Device.


And, yes, it is rather distasteful to look at. But only when it is not turned on!

This, by the way, is what a certain Beau of your acquaintance would prefer to be given this year.

And if I receive multiple copies of this “item” — then all the better! I can watch several of my favourite “shows” at once.

Here is another example of what not to give a gentleman of elegance — the most recent “cinema” version of Miss Austen’s novel.

(Do I hear some shocked murmuring out there? Very well, I admit that there are rumours floating about here and there that Keira Knightley and I are secretly pledged to each other.

But let me assure you — those stories were all put about by my eternally embarrassing aunt, and have no relation to earthly reality. For, as much as I respect Mlle. Knightley’s dramatic talents, and envy her cheekbones, I must confess there have been no promises made between us. And if I have even met the young lady, I refuse to either confirm or deny.)

No, my prejudices against this Movie are all because of the disgraceful coiffures displayed therein.

Of which this is but one example. (Private note to K.K.: what were you thinking? The next time we see each other, I shall insist you buy yourself a comb.)

There you have it! Your shopping made simple. Yes on cashmere gloves and enormous TeleVision Screens, perhaps on gold pocket watches, and an emphatic no to wristwatches and Mlle Knightley’s tangled mane.

Yours in elegance,

Bertram St. James, Exquisite