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.