Updated: Thursday, 24th July 2014 @ 7:04am

Manners, decency and chivalry: Salford Council worker forges gallant quest to be 'true English gentleman'

Manners, decency and chivalry: Salford Council worker forges gallant quest to be 'true English gentleman'

By Eve Commander

Many people think local council offices are where rules are made and straight-laced bureaucracy reigns supreme. 

However these ideas don’t apply to 31-year-old Salford City Council employee, aspiring English gentleman and vintage blogger, Gary Norton.

More likely to wear a vintage suit than the shirt and tie combination of an office worker, G.M Norton or Norton of Morton as he is known to his thousands of twitter followers, smashes any preconceptions you may have about stuffy council offices and boring lunch meetings.

Sporting a handlebar moustache worthy of entry into the prestigious ‘Handlebar Club’ and a classic side-part hairstyle, this dapperly dressed gentleman’s mission is to promote those chivalric values of virtue and honour sadly lacking in modern culture.

His blog or self-described ‘online periodical’ Norton of Morton details the trials and tribulations of his quest.

Offering vintage musings such as the ‘smouldering sirens’ which have steamed up his monocles he also provides followers with helpful tips on how best to follow his pioneering example.

“When making the effort, I find that men act more like gentlemen, and women act more like ladies. And the elegance and sophistication and glamour that you never get nowadays, triumphantly re-emerges from the abyss,” he said.

“Sadly I think manners and decency are lacking in culture today. If more people could adopt a standard of common courtesy and chivalry then it would significantly improve social interactions.”

Taking inspiration from Laurel and Hardy, Alfred Hitchcock films and iconic stars such as Marilyn Monroe he shuns the mimicry of modern styles and calls Kate Moss the ‘Pied Piper of Ugg boots and skinny jeans’.

“By celebrating the English eccentric gentleman, I am flying in the face of bland fashions whose purpose seems to be for everyone to look the same,” he says.

“If wearing something would make you happy and you love the style then adopt it all year round.

“That would be a much better existence than following the sheep because that girl in the girl band wore it to the opening of an envelope.”

His on-going quest in 2013 has been his Year of the Gentleman campaign, in which he incites people to encourage and celebrate chivalrous behaviour.

Activities such as opening the door for ladies and giving up ones seat on public transport, he believes, provide building blocks of good social etiquette.

“As a father of two young children I see the role of dad and gentleman as two very similar things. I want to be a good example to them growing up,” he explained.

His other gentlemanly activities range from hosting parties and mastering ceremonies to portraying historical characters.

This October he made an appearance at the Eccles Cake Festival as the town’s historical baker, John Birch. Councillor Lisa Stone was ecstatic to invite him to play the creator of the original Eccles cake.

She said: “As soon as we thought of bringing James Birch back, Gary was the perfect choice. He has adopted the lifestyle and dress of the classic English gentleman completely – and his handlebar moustache is simply amazing.”

However the enthusiasm of his fellow council workers is not shared by all. Many people are sceptical of what can be considered to be a studied attempt to appear eccentric.

“I have received the occasional negative comment and plenty of strange looks but I’m more than at ease in those situations,” Mr Norton added.

“Bizarrely a man sporting a handlebar moustache and wearing tweed seems to cause more of a sensation on the street than the non-peacocking youth.”

Superficially the image of a council worker and a dapperly dressed English gentleman don’t go together however Mr Norton’s chivalrous nature chimes perfectly with old-fashioned ideas of civil duty.

Currently writing for a range of publications, he is also planning to publish a moustache grower’s guide on Norton of Morton for anyone hoping to cultivate their own handlebar tache and will continue to spread his gentlemanly message far and wide.

“I’m tickled pink with my progress thus far,” he said.

“In the future, I aim to offer more information around etiquette and of course, I am always ready to come to the assistance of a damsel or chap in distress.”

To find more about G.M. Norton's attempts to pursue a gentlemanly existence, visit http://www.nortonofmorton.com/

Pictures courtesy of Adele of My Last Dollar Dress, with thanks

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.