Tom Hodgkinson’s guide to husbandry
This week we made merry in London town:
All was happiness in the height in halls and chambers
For lords and their ladies, delectable joy.
It was the occasion of the real-life launch of my new book An Idler’s Manual at St Stephen’s church in west London, and the first party we’ve thrown since February 2020. We sang along to Neil Innes’s “Lie Down and Be Counted” while I played ukulele and Danny Wootton noodled brilliantly on his Arturia synth. It was great to get a goodly real-life crowd together. We plan to organise more Idler socials next year.
Now the theme of my speech was how being generally crap at certain things has not stopped me from writing guidebooks to those very same things – parenting, ukuleles and farming being examples (though when it comes to idling, I really am an expert).
One of these guides is How to Live in the Country which is out now. It’s a new edition of my 2012 title Brave Old World, and is a month-by-month guide to rural life, which takes the old medieval farmers’ calendars as its model. So, December is for staying in by the fire, January is for chopping wood, February is for digging, March is for sowing, September is for making wine and beer and so on. Alice Smith did the illustrations.
Of course I don’t claim to be an expert in the arts of husbandry, but I had a go at all of them while living in North Devon for twelve years, and this book weaves in tales of my own often disastrous attempts to live off the land with advice from the acknowledged masters like William Cobbett and John Seymour. And Dominic West has written a very amusing new introduction.
How to Live in the Country is available from all the usual outlets including bookshop.org.
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