SCOUTING FOR BOYS by Robert Baden-Powell - the original 1908 handbook in facsimile (Oxford, £12.99).


"There are many ways of making bridges... The simplest way for bridging a narrow, deep stream is to fell a tree, or two trees side by side, so that they fall across the stream. With an adze you then flatten the topside; put up a hand-rail, and there you have a very good bridge...


The usual way is for a scout to take off his coat, spread it on the ground, with the inside uppermost (so that any mess he makes will not show outwardly when he wears his coat afterwards); then he makes a pile of flour on the coat and scoop out the centre until it forms a cup for the water, which he then pours in hot...


Before you cook your hare, you've got to catch him. So bring the sheep or ox to the place where you want him. Then you have to kill him and cut him up before you can cook him and eat him...

Cattle are generally poleaxed, or a spike is driven into their forehead with a mallet... or a big sharp knife is driven into the spine just behind the horns, the animal's head having first been securely tied down to a cart wheel or fence.

Sheep are generally killed either by being laid on their side and having their head drawn back and throat cut with a big sharp knife...The animal should then be gutted...''

Wonderful, absolutely wonderful. The combined talents of PG Wodehouse, Beachcomber and Spike Milligan could not have made it up. Once second only to the Bible in sales, this handbook - its instructions amplified by "yarns and pictures'' - is probably the most influential manual for youth ever published. Almost a century after it appeared, it stands as an astonishing testimony to change.

Published: 22/02/2005