February 9th 2013 | Comments

How to roll up your shirt sleeves

There are times in the life of a gentleman when he must remove his jacket, roll up his shirt sleeves and knuckle down to the job in hand. For me, this day came when I was forced to defend the honour of the regimental padre’s daughter against blackguardly language from a drunken cur of my acquaintance.

With duels (the subject of a future ‘How To..’ guide) somewhat frowned upon by the time I had taken Her Majesty’s Commission, it was the done thing to settle matters of honour through the medium of The Fair Fight.

And honour was one thing 19-year-old Matilda had in bucketfuls, her long blonde hair cascading over her ample dĂ©colletage as she took her evening promenade in front of the Sergeant’s mess. It was as she bent over to retrieve a fallen kerchief, that I heard the taunts of Sgt O’Brennan, and it became my duty as a gentleman to defend her whether she wanted it or not, and she protested most vigorously.

The challenge made, I prepared myself for the Fair Fight in the presence of a somewhat rowdy audience of our peers. My coat off, I set about rolling up my sleeves in the approved military manner. There is a right way to do this, otherwise you will look like a veterinary surgeon about to stick his arm up a cow’s bottom. Just like this unfortunate chap:

1. Undo your cuff button or cuff links.

2. Fold back the cuffs. This will be your guide to how thick to make your roll.

3. Keep folding back your cuffs to the cuff-width template. If – as a gentleman – you have good, stiff cuffs, they stiffness will make the rolled-up sleeve look all the better.

4. Roll until you are one or two rolls above the elbow. You will be able to tell what is correct, and it should sit there smartly.

5. Repeat with the other sleeve. As the cuffs are the same width, so your rolls should be the same size. This means that your rolled-up shirt sleeves will make you look officer-class.

Alas, it was while I was setting about my shirt sleeves that O’Brennan took advantage of my gentlemanly behaviour and boxed me to the ground, before then landing a pair of well-directed kicks to my gentleman’s area. You may be interested to learn that the Art of Fighting Like A Gentleman will be featured in a forthcoming guide.

When I regained my senses, I found myself bleeding profusely on a deserted parade ground, the only sound to be heard being the padre’s daughter surrendering her virtue to Sgt O’Brennan behind the regimental stables. My sleeves, however, were perfectly rolled up and I remained every bit the gentleman as I stumbled back to my quarters, to have my batman rub unguent on the afflicted areas.

O’Brennan, sadly, is unable to recount his part of the tale, having been volunteered for Operation Certain Suicide two months later, from which he was returned in a series of  increasingly smaller cardboard boxes over several weeks by an enemy with a seemingly endless supply of postage stamps.

So, to recap: Smart sleeves, protect the reputation of the innocent whether they want to or not, and the ability to bide your time. All marks of the perfect gentleman.