Smoking in restaurants and guilt–free drinking
Eighty years ago it was all rather different.
The Practical Way To Keep Fit, written by doctor Harry Roberts in 1938, offered handy tips – some of which seem decidedly odd today.
My late grandfather bought a copy and the little blue book has become something of a family heirloom.
Dr Roberts was quite relaxed about smoking but he was concerned that Britons wore far too many garments.
Let’s take a closer look at his guidance on important topics…
MIND AND BODY
I cannot too strongly stress the fact that the practical way to keep fit is not simply a matter of taking violent exercise on the tennis court or football field – excellent as such exercise is for the majority of young people – or of physical jerks for those to whom regular violent exercise is an impossibility.
It is the main purpose of this book to bring home to my readers the fact that a human being is a single entity whose mental and physical qualities interact constantly and vitally upon each other.
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DRINK MORE WATER
It is doubtful if many people in this country drink nearly as much water as they should.
Nine persons out of 10, especially if leading fairly active lives, would be all the better for drinking a glass of water or lemon water three or four times a day between meals.
Room and bar of the Hotel Ritz in the Place Vendome, Paris, 1939
Gardeners are among the longest lived of men.
I would go further and say they are among the happiest of men.
I believe gardening to be the very best of all the hobbies for its practice involves not only of limb and muscle in the best of all environments, the open air, but also in little less degree of the planning mind and the seeing eye, to say nothing of the emotions, aesthetic and other.
One of the greatest objections to central heating is that we move continuously in an atmosphere of stagnant, steady warmth so that our skin has no opportunity to make those adjustments to changes of temperature which are stimulating and invigorating.
It is as good for us as it is refreshing to go from a warm room in winter into a cold passage and back into a warm room again.
Such sudden changes are not likely to give us the colds our grandmothers predicted but are more likely to protect us from colds by hardening us to variety.
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VALUE OF HOLIDAYS
I advise everyone to take a proper holiday once a year or better, if it can be managed, twice a year.
Select a place and a set of circumstances quite unlike those which usually comprise your environment.
Don’t be content to merely do what everyone else does but make of your holiday a novel adventure which will interest you or even excite you and give you something to think over and chew for months to come.
Some of the most enjoyable holidays I have ever spent cost me well under a pound a week, when I have spent more I have generally got less enjoyment.
Exercise with plenty of fresh air
We may take it that, for something like eight months of every year, it is impracticable for an inhabitant of Great Britain to live the entirely open-air life.
At the same time it is probable that on 200 nights all of us – man, woman and child – might with advantage to our health and to our happiness sleep out of doors.
SMOKING AND HEALTH
That smoking is not always, or necessarily, injurious to health is evidenced by the number of hale old men who are never seen without a pipe in their mouth.
Moreover we see all about us men and women among the healthiest of our fellows, who in varying degrees indulge in pipe, cigarette or cigar every day.
We may therefore dismiss as unfounded the more lurid pictures of the consequences of this now universal habit. This however does not finish the matter.
There are certain individuals to whom tobacco is literally a poison, who cannot smoke a pipe or cigarette without feeling the worse for it.
They certainly should avoid it as they should avoid cocaine and morphia.
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DON’T WEAR TOO MUCH!
The “nudists” have a philosophy which, although I think it’s riddled with fallacies, embodies no small nature of truth.
My experience leads me to suspect that nine out of every 10 British men wear in July a collection of garments which I personally should consider excessive in December.
Small are the differences between the average Englishman’s summer costume and the costume which he affects in the depths of winter.
Can one wonder that rheumatism – a disease intimately related to the skin’s activity – is so common in these islands?
Despite its rather odd advice the book has become a treasured family heirloom
AVOID STEWED TEA
In some districts, notoriously in Cornwall, it is a common practice to make a pot of tea and stand it on the hob, taking a cup from it from time to time through the day, more water or a few more tea leaves being added as need arises.
No wonder that in those areas dyspepsia is common, for tannin has the effect of clotting or coagulating protein and of diminishing the digestive secretions.
PROTECT YOUR FEET
If we treated our feet with as much respect as the owner of a good horse expects his groom to exercise towards his charge, most of us would be a lot healthier than we are.
A good shoe need not necessarily be drab or clumsy.
It is of course true that ugly shoes are often as uncomfortable and deforming as conventionally gay ones.
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POSTURE AND POISE
The dignity that comes from good bearing is not a privilege of rank.
Who has not seen some bricklayer, parlour maid or shop assistant whose personal carriage and air of self-confidence and self–respect expressed a dignity altogether outweighing that of his or her employer?
Ease and the absence of self-consciousness are the marks of the true aristocrat.
Mental and physical posture is what really determines these.
Not cleverness, nor wealth, nor ancestry can give dignity.
Winston Churchill was a heavy drinker
A majority of those who have reached comparative old age seem to be, in the matter of alcohol, abstainers or as near as makes no difference.
But this is by no means the only explanation of their longevity as is obvious from the confessions of many others equally old and hale.
The Earl of Albemarle said that he had “a pot of strong beer at luncheon, whisky and water (one glass) at dinner and was not averse to one glass of vintage port and perhaps sixty-five brandy”.
Lieutenant-general Sir Edward Bethune confessed to smoking cigars, pipes and cigarettes, to drinking wines, beer etc and to eating “any rations available”.