Some out-of-print books of advice and information have been abandoned for good reason – perhaps for their out-dated data, awful social prejudice or even dangerous ideas. Yet many are worth picking up again, not least because reflecting on past follies prompts us to confront our own. There’s also the chance we’ll find a bright idea languishing even in the thickest thickets of historical hubris. And, of course, neglected books may still be full of delight and inspiration. With that in mind, here is a selection of four ideas from the advice lore of the past. Some seem familiar, some novel, some almost totally disguised by daftness. But, for me at least, each contains some small glimmer or bright gleam of wisdom.
INVITE A FRIEND ON A JAUNT
Do you feel you’ve been remiss in meeting up with a friend lately? There’s little better than inviting a friend on a jaunt to brighten a grey January day. What’s more, if you’ve a fondness for pen and ink, you might indulge in the satisfaction of creating something by hand and resurrecting the charming art of invitation by letter. With any luck you’ll be rewarded by something like this model response from a guide to correspondence:
The idea is perfectly delightful. You know how much I have looked forward to the outing, but I really had begun to think that it would never come to anything. It would be great fun to lunch together at the Popular Café. Be sure you keep a good look out for me as I am so short-sighted. I shall wait in the hall. What an afternoon we shall have!
Yours always affectionately,
(The Complete Letter Writer by Arnold Villiers, London, c. 1942).
- Cathy Haynes, The School of Life
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