Self Defence, 1935
Hello! I’m so excited about getting going that it’s hard to know where to start. But, on reflection, it can really only be with my 1935 copy of The Universal Book of Hobbies and Handicrafts, which was the first old book I ever bought and has been entertaining me ever since. I love these compendium books of knowledge, with tips on how to do pretty much everything, from the days when proper hobbies were a really big deal. I have collected a few of them now, but this is my favourite.
It’s full of genuinely useful information, although I’m not convinced the complicated pages of dance steps ever taught anyone to successfully dance the tango. But should you want to learn how to sing, how to identify birdsong or how to drown kittens, it’s all here.
I’m going to show you the Self Defence chapter, as Mr Chomondley-Warner would have practiced it. Rum chaps in flat caps assaulting their Oxford-bagged betters. It’s pretty much tips on how to get arrested now, if you ever put a lot of this stuff into practice. Piercing an assailants throat with your umbrella tip? The nose grip could be a useful move though.
Is it slightly sinister that “frog-marching is familiar to most people from school days”? Very Ripping Yarns.
Nb. When I was a student we spent quite a while attempting to recreate the “Countering a Body Hold” with no success. Can anyone manage it?