Brave Old World, By Tom Hodgkinson


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The Independent Culture

In a wholly inappropriate move, the editor of The Idler swapped London lethargy for the grind of Good Life-style husbandry in Devon. Despite an introduction well-endowed with piffle ("We are unafraid of truth, beauty and pain"), his month-by-month account is richly entertaining.

April is largely devoted to the business of keeping hens. Death arrives via fox, badger, bucket of water and broom handle. May is devoted to the pleasures of breadmaking, though why a self-proclaimed idler does not use the lazy man's no-knead method is a mystery.

A combination of almanac, commonplace book and diary (a poem on pigs runs: "We scratched their backs and watched them snort/Their fun-filled lives resulted in great pork"), this is a tasty oddity