Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

The art of ceremony – taking your sweet time.

Sometimes new ideas take time to seep into our conscious minds and become accepted. How else to explain my continued aversion to the art of felching? As such I read this post over at Didact’s site with some sense of satisfaction. In his piece he talks about my list of the traits of the modern man. One of the most controversial, and thus misunderstood traits of that list was number five.

Trait #5 in that list states that the modern man never orders a bottle of wine that can be opened without a corkscrew. And with good reason.

Now, when I first saw that one, I thought that Adam was being unnecessarily uptight. I have partaken of many a superb Australian wine that comes in bottles that use plastic corks, or, more often, simply don’t bother with corks at all. Many very good middle-range wines, costing between $12 and $18 a bottle, have nothing more than a twist-off screw top, and yet the wine itself is still of quite high quality.

However, it was only with subsequent re-readings of this trait that I realised that I had missed Adam’s basic point.

The issue that the modern man has with non-corked wine bottles is not the convenience or simplicity or superior freshness and taste of the wine. The issue that the modern man has with it is that a certain amount of ceremony, and therefore of solemnity and tradition, is lost in the act of partaking of wine.

Spot on. Trait 5 is entirely about ceremony but uses corkscrews as a fine example. Now I am sure that some of you are thinking along the lines of why didn’t I call the trait ceremony to begin with, and not waste time confusing things with this corkscrew business. I think on reflection it is because the initial disagreement makes you work at it. I have had more communication about this trait than any of the others. This reflects both the style in which it is communicated and its inherent importance.

Didact also discusses shaving, which I also made a separate trait about – Trait 2, The modern man shaves every day. This trait reflects self discipline. Another example of self discipline is getting up in the morning and making your bed.

I hesitated about putting up that video because I very much dislike all this baloney about encouraging idiots to believe that they can change the world. But his underlying premise is solid.

Also, while we’re on the subject of shaving, I consider Truefitt & Hill’s products to the best ever by a long margin. And if you ever find yourself in London, do yourself a favor and book in a shave at their marvelous shop.

Another area of the modern man’s life where he can partake in a good deal of ceremony is the art of smoking. While pipe and cigar smoking offer ample opportunities to take one’s time and smell the tobacco, so to say, cigarette smoking seems a distant third in this respect.

However, with the rise of nanny state governments interfering in the simple pleasure of being able to purchase one’s favorite brand of cigarettes, there is now also a great opportunity for cigarette smokers. Namely, the cigarette case. With a cigarette case you don’t have to have your enjoyment of a smoke marred by the sight of diseased and dying individuals (who undoubtedly did not heed the wisdom of all things in moderation), when you pull out your packet.

I have a very close friend who has used a cigarette case for years. Frankly I don’t understand why more smokers don’t invest in one. You can pick up great cases in antique shops. And since nobody is buying them the prices are not very high.

The art of ceremony is antithetical to haste. Yes, it takes more time to have a proper wet shave. Yes, it takes more time to remove a corkscrew as opposed to twisting off a cap. Yes, it takes more time to sit down and have all the family together at dinner rather than shoveling in your food while staring at the television. But there is no need to rush about in such mad urgency. The grave awaits you regardless. You may as well enjoy the ride and take your sweet time.



Podcast #58 – The old man blues episode.


Friday hawt chicks & links – The nautical edition.


  1. Bernd

    This is one where i tend to disagree with you. I get the point that ceremony is something that should be preserved, at least for the important aspects of life (whatever they may be for everyone). But for something like making the bed or wet shaving every morning or any other “discipline building” activities. . . those generate a lot of reactive power without any real benefit. I rather don’t give a shit about ceremony and save a lot of time that i can use to kick ass somewhere else.

    Basically what i’m trying to say is that effectiveness is more important than ceremony for everyday tasks. Ceremony just for ceremony is useless. Who gives a flying fuck if i use an electric razor in the morning? It is way faster and less messy than shaving with a razor blade and gives the same result (at least if you buy a good one). Bonus points for not fucking my face up while shaving in the morning after a night of alcohol obliteration.

    That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do a family dinner or something like that. You get a nice conversation, better relationships with the family and so on from it. Not just ceremony for ceremonies sake.

    Kind of the same thing i keep saying about traditions. Keep them if you get any benefit from them. But keeping them because they are traditions (keep doing what has been done all the time before) is just dumb. Hunting witches is also a tradition. And a ceremony . . .

  2. Hans

    Making your bed up immediately upon waking is unwise.
    All you are doing is sealing in the sweat and stinky night farts and other smells and enabling the rapid colonisation of your bedding by snug, happy little mites.
    Best to let it air and make it up in the afternoon.

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