Friday, 10 June 2011

Something for the Week-End, Sir?

Absolutely not - nothing like that, thank you!

No, I'm referring to a present bought me by my wife which arrived in the post this morning: 'The Week-End Book,' published by the Nonesuch Press - it's been recently reprinted, but this is the 1928 edition.

A typical anthology of the period, I thought, but not so. It includes a wide selection of poems - 'I sing of a maiden,' verses from the Song of Songs in the Authorised Version, works by George Herbert and Henry Vaughan - songs, with music,  including 'Summer is Icumen in' and 'Greensleeves.'
Amusingly, it goes on to give advice for 'Camping-out in the British Isles,' giving tips for forecasting the weather, illustrations of useful knots and, for emergencies,  a description, with a drawing, of how to make an improvised cup out of a sheet of paper.

There's also a section on British birds, their habitats, and how to identify them, and detailed drawings of the night sky throughout the year. It ends with 'The Law and how you break it',  including:
"But there remains one type of landlord for whose injured proprietary instincts no balm can be found..................In fact he should never be spoken to except from the other side of a five-barred gate. A slow but dignified retreat to the highway is the best course to pursue."
and followed by simple cookery tips and advice on first aid, with, at the end of the paragraph on 'To Remedy the Toothache:'
'But if there be a Dentist or a Doctor, shun this like poison (which it is) and go at once to the one or the other; for only in them is Salvation.".

In short, it contains everything you might need for the great British weekend the 1920s. Yes, it's a product of its age, but it's none the worse for that.
I can see exactly what Virgina Woolf meant when she made the remark about the Nonesuch Press that ‘The Hogarth Press may not make any money – but at least we did not publish the Week-End Book.’ but, then, she would, wouldn't she?

I'm finding it to be a healthy antidote to "Green Spirituality - joining the cry of the earth,"  received from the Church in Wales a few days ago.
I can take only so much of liberal theology's bandwagon-jumping and its intense dislike of religion. Give me a purely secular work every time  - even ephemera like 'The Week-End Book,' which at least has the grace to acknowledge its debt to faith and the heritage of the ages.

"But Noah he sinned, and we have sinned; on tipsy feet we trod,
Till a great big black teetotaller was sent to us for a rod,
And you can't get wine at a P.S.A., or chapel, or Eisteddfod.
for the Curse of Water has come again because of the wrath of God,
And water is on the Bishop's board and the Higher Thinker's shrine,
But I don't care where the water goes if it doesn't get into the wine."

G.K. Chesterton; 'Wine and Water' - from the Week-End Book

1 comment:

  1. I believe there was also a 'Saturday Book', probably compiled for people who had to endure boring 'house parties' at country homes on weekends. Much light lit'rary and poetry stuff.
    I recall seeing copies in American book stores back in older times.

    Jim of Olym


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