Queen Elizabeth has some very odd subjects

The Royal Automobile Club, London, 1956 Bristol 405 Drophead Coupe


FOR THE EDITORS OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES OF LONDON

DEAR SIRS:

Queen Elizabeth has some very odd subjects.  Not the least, your own Mr. Sathnam Sanghera, whose name and picture suggest a bloodline that runs to a land with skies far bluer than are generally seen in England.  And that lineage may well be in part to explain why he has bothered to spill a considerable amount of company ink on a topic of singularly dubious import to readers. Mr. Sanghera chose to spend his column of 21st April ridiculing The Royal Automobile Club.  Why?  It seems to me that given his own remonstrations of intense dislike for the Club at the outset of his mission to discover what is in the Club; Mr. Sanghera would have better served your paper by not going to the Club in the first place.

A young lad learns very early the importance of dress, of convivial mixing with his own sort in a select environment and he doesn’t forget these lessons ever.  Doubtless, Mr. Sanghera was never taught and, hence, will never understand what a club for gentlemen of business is.  That is not the end of the world as far as it goes but Mr. Sanghera goes too far to encroach on an environment that he will never understand and in spending his time describing his experiences whilst lugging around a portable computer machine designed to sit in his lap.  My word, why?  I don’t know definitively, but when a grown man tells me that he actually needs the Club handbook on general etiquette and, specifically, on how to put on a suit and tie and a week– yes, a week– to master simply getting dressed, he clearly is a duckling out of his pond.

Put short, the purpose of a business gentleman’s club, in City, in Wall Street and in many other commercial centers world ‘round, is to do some of these things:  to drink, to visit one’s friends, to relax with them, to drink, to get up a nice school of cards, to drink and to admire the clothes of one’s friends and for those friends to admire his.  Yes, Mr. Sanghera—to admire clothes.  Food, which Mr. Sanghera roundly criticizes at the Club, is simply not a pertinent part of club life.  As anyone knows, club food is atrocious anywhere one goes in the world.   Clubs are for the drinking, not the eating. All said, as my uncles would tell me when I was very young—“if you do not understand where you are, you are likely in the wrong spot.”  This is not what today is derided as elitism—it is simply common sense.

Dress remains very important in business.  How a young fellow who works at a paper that primarily covers City and Wall Street affairs and sits very close to Saville Row could have missed this is difficult for an adult to fathom.  Rather than trying to fit a square peg into a seamlessly round hole, I suggest Mr. Sanghera abandon his journeys to the Royal Automobile Club and instead head over to read the Statute of All Souls College, Oxford.  There to see the inscription dating to 1440 defining what it means to be a gentleman:  Bene Nati, Bene Vestiti, Et Mediocriter Docti—high born, well dressed and somewhat educated.  Yes, Mr. Sanghera, right after proper birth and well ahead of a bit of school, comes well dressed in the lexicon of what it means to be a gentleman.  As it did in 1440, as it does yet today.

I am terribly sorry that Queen Elizabeth must preside over this fractious muddle called modern life, chronicled on computer machines that sit in young men’s laps, so obviously out-of-place in The Royal Automobile Club and everywhere else gentlemen of business meet to relax, drink well and dress well.

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Yours very truly,

JOHN DANIEL BEGG

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