Whilst the Jockey Club has yet to introduce an element of Scythian archery to the Grand National, we suggest that it should at least be on the agenda for the next AGM (Photo by STR / NurPhoto via Getty Images)
It’s not easy to get one’s hands on a copy of Stephen Potter’s slim volume on Lifemanship these days. And that’s a good thing, we suggest, since if everyone had a copy then the playfield would be level. Just as the author’s previous book, Gamesmanship, outlines how one might – were one so inclined – win at games without actually cheating, Lifemanship brings similar tactics off the playing-field and into the drawing-room. For example, when bumping into a fellow into whom one would rather not bump, the greeting, “Hello, you’re looking very relaxed,” isn’t exactly rude – in fact it sounds like a compliment – but it will nevertheless put the chap’s back up without him quite know why. One-nil to you.
Similarly, when a fellow’s going on and on in assembled company about his travels in some worthy but altogether uninteresting corner of a very foreign field and makes any general statement about life, culture, food or politics there, one can interrupt him at any point and say, “Yes, but not in the south.” He is unlikely to ask what you mean lest it transpire that you know more than him about the place. Two-nil.
So whilst everybody else is moaning about Dry January, why not go out in search of easier and altogether more profitable forms of self-improvement? A know-it-all- father in law is sure to beware the son-in-law who can drop a reference to the Scythians into a conversation about, oh, almost anything…
1. To find out a little more about these revered and feared warriors of old, drop by the British Museum any time before the 14th January. More info at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/scythians.aspx
2. Similarly, one can learn a great deal – and indeed pick up a great deal – at the Art and Antiques Fair between the 12th and 14th of January. More info at: https://www.artantiquesinteriorsfair.com
3. And since we’re focused on improving our minds more than our livers, it might be a good time to get stuck into the gin any time after the 17th January, thanks to the splendid fellows at Sipsmith and the Ham Yard Hotel: https://www.designmynight.com/london/whats-on/date-night/hot-gin-roof-back-with-a-poke
4. Man cannot live on gin alone, however. For something more substantial and equally delicious, we’ve a couple of restaurant recommendations. Chinatown can seem a bit of a gamble unless one knows where to go – and now you do: It’s called Xu, and you can find out all about the sumptuous Taiwanese cuisine on offer here: https://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/xu
If some hearty, wholesome and healthy Japanese food seems more in keeping, toddle on up to Brompton for some of the finest available: https://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/dinings-sw3
5. Thus, with high spirits and a full belly, one can go off in search of a show. For something tense and intensely contemporary, we recommend Belleville at the Donmar Warehouse: https://www.donmarwarehouse.com/production/6326/belleville/
Or, for an updated classic from the Royal Shakespeare Society, Titus Andronicus at the Barbican is receiving excellent reviews: https://www.rsc.org.uk/titus-andronicus/