Unmasking the Dapper Gentleman

Sarah James finds out exactly who this well-dressed man on campus is.

I don’t think I have ever been more nervous about an interview.

Here I was, being granted the honour of conversing with one of UON’s most famous faces. Plenty of celebrities have come out of UON (ok, maybe not plenty), but no one is as instantly recognisable as the Dapper Gentleman.

Real name Edward Bridle, the Dapper Gentleman exudes levels of sophistication that go unrivalled. Spotting him strutting about campus feels noteworthy in itself. He’s practically mythic.

If you look close enough though, (or stalk, like I did), you may spot him in the depths of the University Archives at the Auchmuty Library.

Edward has been a staff member of UON going on 14 years now. His status as an icon of UON is almost comparable to the innumerable mosquitoes and impossible-to-navigate Hunter Building. The airs of confidence I was expecting from him though were not fulfilled. Rather, he was graceful and self-assured, and most interestingly, appeared genuinely baffled by students’ fascination with him.

“I am rather surprised, I never thought there was anything special about the way I dress,” Edward said.

He didn’t realise the extent of his fame until the launch of the The Dapper Gentleman of the University of Newcastle Facebook page, now sitting on over 6000 likes.

“A couple of weeks after the Facebook page went up, someone came up to me and said ‘did you know there’s a Facebook page about you?’”

While this may have been his first brush with fame while at UON, it is not something he has been immune to in the past.

“I once was accused of being a vampire,” Edward revealed.

The Dapper Gentleman didn’t choose to live in the spotlight. Instead, the spotlight found him. Like a celebrity baby.

In saying that, there is a definitive reason behind his signature style: Edward has a complete and utter disdain of current fashion trends.

“I wouldn’t wear them if you paid me!” he asserted.

He would rather mirror what he considers to be the normal dress of a Western male for the past hundred years. Although in his spare time, you might him sporting attire which dates back well before this century.

The Dapper Gentleman doubles as a Dark Age reenactor. He was quick to point out my ignorance in thinking that this was similar to live action roleplaying (aka LARPing).

Turns out they’re not all the same.

“LARP? Do not speak of LARP!” he chuckled.

Edward’s passion for history is tangible, especially when describing to me his favourite book, Possession by A.S. Byatt.

“It’s a sort of split time novel, set half in the Victorian era, half in the modern era, and two scholars are researching the Victorian era, and the things they find out tend to concern them.”

“But I won’t say anymore. Spoilers!”

What I found the most fascinating about the Dapper Gentleman though, was despite his charm and timeless appearance, he still has things in common with the ordinary student: a love of the Bakehouse.

“I do very much enjoy their pies.”

Don’t we all Dapper Gentleman, don’t we all.

Feature image designed by Richard O’Regan