I recently stayed at a charming boarding house and had the pleasure of meeting one of the most curious people I have ever come across in my life. He was polite, and yet standoffish. He reminded me of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers in his servility but without the bursts of uncontrolled rage (thankfully!). During my entire stay I willed myself to find a noun, an adjective or any appropriate expression to describe the landlord in question but I was stunned by his bizarre behaviour. His wife, au contraire, was kind, intelligent, witty and a true saint.
So, a brief description of the landlord's character and I hope someone will supply the word or expression that does the chap justice!
Someone who is concerned with social class; who fancies himself belonging to the upper-middle class when it is clear from his speech and mannerisms he did not enjoy those privileges as a child. A person who is fixated with appearances; always lays the table with expensive looking cutlery, cut lead crystal glasses, linen napkins and even lit candelabras but then serves pre-cooked food bought from Tescos (U.S Walmart). A person who addresses you as a "young lady", is obsequious to a fault but then drinks too much at dinner and slurs his words. Whose talk borders on vulgarity but somehow manages to never cross that line. A person who will boast of owning two cars when he cannot drive. A person who will continually ask if you slept well, if you are enjoying the food, if you are fond of this or that, and whether you are comfortable in the first ten minutes but will then proceed to ignore you for the rest of the evening by watching the television.
What do you call someone like that? During my stay I could only think of snob but it seemed so inadequate, so measly compared to the sheer magnificence of his.... what?!
EDIT [original comments 17/7/2013]
The landlord was always polite, even obsequious, never aggressive nor disdainful towards me because I was "the perfect guest". (I was very conscious about my table manners while staying there!). He was anxious to impress me because I was a visitor from Italy and proclaimed to love Italian music, art, food and wine, while knowing next to nothing about them.
My landlord spoke of his travels abroad, his cruises to islands and he waxed endlessly about how fine the women dressed on board, how they dressed differently during the day and evening and how their handbags and shoes matched their dresses. The man was, frankly speaking, quite bizarre! I've never met anyone quite like him.
He was very right-wing, a real conservative and even expressed admiration for Berlusconi because he is a man of immense wealth and power, while personally I abhor the politician. He did express disapproval about the number of young men and women who would fill the bars, pubs and nightclubs at the week-ends and would often advise me from going out late at night, in case I should witness their vulgar, cheap, drunken behaviour. This piece of advice I always ignored and often enjoyed a pint with friends myself, I had a wonderful time! :)