The Gentlemen of Lanark County

Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.Gentlemen of Lanark County
When I casually shared with others that I had lately composed an article about the “Ladies of Lanark County” the immediate response was that I should do the same concerning the “Gentlemen of Lanark County“.  And I suppose I should. Not just because it’s even-handed but because the project admits to the possibility of some mirth.  Really, when I reflect upon the subject even for a moment I instantly recall all sorts of rare birds whom I’ve known over the years; and I am bound to own that casting a sardonic eye upon that historical landscape might indeed prove diverting.

 Men with Nicknames

Any discussion of men in the same breath as women is bound to include comparison.  An obvious dissimilarity is the quaint tendency of men to have nicknames.  I can’t think of an instance in which women suffer the same susceptibility.  Men however appear to invite the cultivation.  The monikers, while certainly not always contemptuous, are not necessarily terms of endearment, affection or familiarity.  Very often the nickname captures some physical characteristic of the gentleman, whether his own appearance or some prominent feature associated with him.  There are of course occasional instances of nicknames which are mere abbreviations but the frequency of good-natured ridicule is not to be discounted.  No doubt some men view the hypocorism as equivalent to a stage name and therefore desirable, symbolizing a form of acceptance.

 The Entrepreneur

Over the years we’ve had our fair share of grand business developers, some of whom are mockingly called “typhoons” owing to their blustery showmanship but strategic lack of substance. If you’re up against one of these seasoned professionals you are wise to afford yourself ample time for “sober second thought”.  The persuasion of these gentlemen is seemingly irresistible even though there are seldom any facts upon which to base the conjecture.  If by chance you allow yourself to become entwined with this culprit, you can be assured that the result will be unfavourable even if you’re lucky enough to disengage.

 The Politician

As popular as it is to razz politicians (a hobby I regret to say is often also directed at lawyers) my personal experience is nonetheless quite different.  I am proud to say that of the many gentlemen whom I have known in local politics all without exception have been honourable, trustworthy and diligent.  The veteran politician is particularly laudable as he clearly takes his responsibilities seriously and submits to both the real and perceived needs of the electorate in an effort to placate their expectations.  I harbour the traditional view that politicians can be presumed to aim for high standards and invariably our representatives do not disappoint.  As someone who has but dipped his toe in the treacherous waters of public office I can safely say that our local members are much to be admired for their performance.

The Clerks, Labourers and Service Providers

The front-line workers of our community are of course widely varied in age, appearance and personality but oddly on balance they all prove to be universally helpful, outgoing and dedicated.  Whether it is an attribute of country living or something in the water, I find it remarkable that in our community the tenure of these gentlemen is often very long.  Once you have acquainted yourself with the people in a particular department or store or institution, you are virtually assured that they will be there to assist in the future. This segment of our community also lends itself especially to its characters, gentlemen who by their singular nature have become readily identified as distinctive and even symbolic.  One would be remiss to overlook the important element of volunteer which so often characterizes these gentlemen. Whether they are first responders or club members of charitable organizations they all share the attributes of selflessness and unfailing commitment.

The Old Fogeys

As I am myself now dangerously close to being herded into the fold of old-fashioned conservatives, I feel I am entitled to weigh in upon this particular category with impunity. We all know these gentlemen, usually “elderly”, typically retired for goodness knows how long, oddly bouncy for their age and who never recoil from the opportunity for a chin wag.  To add to their further embarrassment of others, the Old Fogeys are active in endless social gatherings and even undertakings which pass as athletic.  They have long ago abandoned the necessity of a tie but it is well-known that many of them were once leaders in government or held high office though they would never do or say anything so vulgar as to betray their pedigree.  A mere scratch of their veneer is guaranteed to provide some very entertaining history.

The Lads

This is a division of gentlemen which I suspect is distinctly peculiar to Lanark County and anything else resembling rural Ireland, Scotland or England.  It is a subset which transcends class, age and occupation and might conveniently be considered the lawful equivalent of the Italian Mafioso as it reeks of membership even if not nefarious.  There is no mistaking “one of the lads”. He exudes self-confidence and very often carries with him some characteristic local identification, whether in his appearance or by dint of his language or accent.  He is the embodiment of maleness and is not uncommonly considered either good looking or attractive.  The senior constituents of this branch are not infrequently successful by any standard and they are afforded every latitude to the demonstration of it.  Merit and entitlement go hand-in-hand for these gentlemen and the prudent observer will be alert to their capacity whether alone or in concert.