Charles Nevin: My survival secrets for the modern world

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. There's been a lot about sharks and rioting recently; here are some tips for coping in stressful situations. 1. Never run from a bear.

2. Never confuse your predators: shouting will deter a leopard but attract crocodiles.

3. Always look an approaching mountain lion in the eye, but on no account do it with a Christmas party bore or a young person in a ski mask.

4. Xmas lunch: just put the paper hat on, it's not worth it.

5. Supermarket check-out: never argue with the Brownies packing for charity.

6. I recommend a used Citroën Berlingo van for traversing civil unrest.

7. Fight extradition.

8. Blame Nick Clegg.

9. Humour is a great defuser; but do use "never rains but it pours, eh?" sparingly.

10. Keep a sense of proportion: these things happen. I know of a grandfather, discussing the late Diana Dors at a family lunch, who mistakenly claimed that her real name was Diana Clunt when it was, of course, Diana Fluck.

Excellent to hear Simon Schama, the Coalition's special history adviser, on putting the pizzazz and prestige back into its teaching. Personally, I get by with a few useful words and phrases, such as "Not my period", "Google it", "I blame the French", and, of course, especially when abroad, "Sorry". But anything to help. It would get things really humming, for example, if the teacher dressed up to suit the period, rather in the manner of those people at stately homes or museums (for the trick with them, see 3 above). Lively re-enactments could then ensue, although some caution will be necessary, as I understand nearly all history is about the Second World War at the moment, and there's always the possibility of Sir getting carried away and invading Year 9 biology. Don't mention it.

Christmas Round-up. Getting closer, isn't it? I'm still worried about the sprouts shortage. Might I suggest you choose between the news report that thinking about food is almost as good as eating it and the one revealing that 45 per cent of households throw the sprouts away? Meanwhile, after the savage attack by a horse on a walker's novelty Xmas hat, I see that another one has been repeatedly knocked over by a reindeer in the Cairngorms. But there is some Christmas cheer about: piranhas at a Bristol aquarium are being given turkey. Happy Monday.