Oh, August – doesn’t it drag on?

And so, for those suffering post-Olympic blues, here are some tips from a 1940s self-help book, titled HOW TO LIVE LONG, which I came across a couple of years ago, and bought because it made me sob with laughter. I hope you will find them useful.

The book is divided into 10 chapters written by distinguished people of that time:

First up on the high bar of health is Sir William Pryke, the then Lord Mayor of London:

I am careful not to take oily fish, to avoid salmon, and indeed all cured fish. My medical advisor told me to beware the kipper, and I take his advice.

I am seventy-eight, and I enjoy a good strong Havana cigar immediately after breakfast. After lunch I take another cigar, and smoke several during the day … 

So, out go the salmon, the tuna, and the bloody sardines and in comes the strong Havana cigar!… As for kippers, they will never darken my door again.

Next up Sir William Orpen, a painter:

I believe in passing half of my life in sleep. Twelve out of the twenty-four hours I slumber peacefully away.

When I was a small boy – I suppose I was about seven years old – I began to smoke. I was not many years older when I found myself smoking the modest number of about seventy cigarettes a day. This went on until 1921 when I found I had nicotine poisoning. Consequently I reduced my consumption to about ten cigarettes …

Sometimes I walk as many as fifteen miles in a day … 

Off for a nap then … might give the walk a miss for now.

Now The Aga Khan:

I have a very strong aversion to colours when exercising. Coloured socks, coloured trousers, or coloured underclothes are, I think, unhealthy, and I am against the wearing of tweeds for the same reason.

Dump the plus-fours, Jeeves. Out with the pink pants.

Colour which is to be avoided in clothing for exercise, is a stimulant in food. A beautiful apple or peach becomes tempting because of its colouring. Fruits are adequate for breakfast; I will not even allow a piece of bread at my table for this meal.

Toaster you’re toast.

Sir Gerald Du Maurier, Daphne’s Dad and an actor manager:

At about 8 I have a foaming beaker of bromo selzer; at 9, if I feel lonely, a tiny brandy and soda; at 9.10 a cup of coffee and another cup of coffee, and round about 10 I tackle a bottle of ale – one of those that open with an instrument that looks like a primeval tooth-abstractor. Then the day begins, as it were, and that delicious glass of port is ready and waiting … 

Bloody hell! – so that’s where I’ve been going wrong.

Here is Sir Harry Lauder, singer and writer of such songs as Keep Right on to the End of the Road:

It did not take me long to realise that success means sacrifice. The way to discover the secret of success is to find what particular sacrifice is going to do you the greatest amount of good. I found I had to sacrifice peas. This may not sound very drastic, but I give you my word that it was, for me, a tremendous sacrifice. If a man can be said to love food, I loved peas. But the little beggars did not love me, and so I sacrificed them. 

Harry, dear, you must have some other suggestions, mustn’t you?

Here are my rules:

  • To eat as little as possible
  • To drink as little as possible
  • To take discrete exercise
  • To work as hard as possible
  • To eat an orange every morning



Maybe Pachmann, the world famous pianist will have some slightly less austere tips and let us keep our peas.

For diets and strict rules of feeding and living I have a monstrous contempt.

Oh, jolly good …

I never eat before I am to play, but after a concert I will have a fine supper, with champagne and all the things I like. My favourite vegetable is the giant Californian asparagus, and my favourite fruit a big juicy water-melon. I am happy to sit alone for an hour with a water-melon. I can eat it all. I smoke eight cigars a day and all the fresh air I want comes to me through the window.

So there is my life. And I am 77! But I do not exhort everyone to follow my example, for, after all, I am Pachmann, the unique.

I laugh at your doctors.

So there you have it. If you’ve been lazing on a sofa watching all the extraordinary feats that the human body is capable of while the pounds blossom at your waist, have no fear. A 12 hour sleep should see you right, not to mention a Havana cigar but most important of all whip open your freezer and you will be able to join all those magnificent Olympians in your own heroic sacrifice – ditching peas. Bye bye Birds Eye.  But above all else remember this, Beware the Kipper!

And here is Sir Harry Lauder to sing you on your way. Actually rather touching.

10 thoughts on “BEWARE THE KIPPER!

  1. I never liked kippers, but when it comes to cigars, seems like a lot of what you fancy does you good, as Pryke lived to 85 years old. Shame he didn’t like kippers, he could have smoked his own they had been hung above his chair.


    • Ah, I like your thinking. I think in fact the book must have been written in the 1920s. The copy I have doesn’t have a date in it but it was given as a present in 1943 which made me think it was from then but the feel of it is much more 1920s than 40s.


  2. Hilarious post! I wonder if Pachmann meant the giant Californian redwood? Anything is possible when you’re absolutely nuts…(And beware a man who says he likes to be alone with a water melon.) I remember that my great grandmother who lived to 102 or 104, I forget, was always held up as a fine example of someone who lived long AND loved ice cream. One would have believed that she ate almost nothing else, the way it was always told within the family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a brilliant post!
    I’m fascinated by the Aga Khan – what colour did he wear when exercising, or was it all see-through? The mind boggles.

    Orpen is a fascinating artist. Prior to WW1 he was a rather larky, society painter, but once he joined up his work becomes increasingly tortured. Some of his paintings as a war artist are truly startling and disturbing – some of the best of WW1. He was then commissioned to create paintings to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. He found this very difficult – portraying all these fat cats after what he had seen in the trenches and consequently produced a most moving tribute to the unknown British soldier in France.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you. I think for the Aga Khan it was white clothes for exercising. In fact ‘White cotton, white drill, white shoes seem cooler…’ is what he says. How fascinating about Orpen. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of him before. Orpen was also very keen on walking ‘for anyone who has a healthy pair of feet.’ He said he never walked less that 10 miles a day and often as much as fifteen and he was pretty abstemious when it came to the demon drink!

      Liked by 1 person

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