Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weekend Entertainment

When I was young, I thought that my father was the wisest man in the whole world. And with the passage of the years I found no reason to change my early opinion.
He had a modest but wonderfully eclectic library to which, as a boy, I had unfettered access. One of my favourites was “The Weekend Book.”
This was first published in 1926 and proved extremely popular during what might be referred to as the long weekend between the world wars. Thinking adults during this period must have realised they were living on borrowed time I feel and weekends were a hedonistic outlet for many.
The Weekend Book was a compendium of practically everything one needed for entertainment in those halcyon days when people did things as opposed to supinely watching television or playing computer games.
Tips for country rambling (with appropriate notes on the law of trespass), recipes for cocktails and cures for any subsequent hangovers were intermingled with snatches of Shakespeare, poetry, prose, limericks and clerihews plus innumerable indoor entertainments to while away any wet and windy days.
There was even a Junior Weekend Book with notes on building camp fires and making rafts and boats together with all sorts of dangerous suggestions that would give today's Elfnsafety brigade night terrors.
Many years after my father's death, I was turning the pages idly and came across a section at the back of the book where there was a self assessment form. It listed various qualities and asked that you scored yourself out of ten. My father had completed this with his accustomed modesty, giving himself mediocre scores until the column marked “tolerance” where he wrote “ten out of ten.”
Perhaps this is why I considered him so wise!
After a hiatus of fifty years, The Weekend Book is back. Buy one for Christmas (no, I'm not on commission) and make sure you complete the self assessment form at the back.
“Know thyself” adjured the Oracle of Delphi.
It's not a bad idea.


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