A handy guide on teaching yourself new life skills

When this breezeblock-sized hardback book – subtitled ‘214 Things You Can Actually Learn How to Do’ – slammed onto my desk I must admit that I almost laughed.

This is like one of those pre-internet general interest books we used to have in the seventies.

Unlike tongue-in-cheek retro tomes such as The Dangerous Book For Boys, this book genuinely wants to teach you strange and curious, but above all useful, things to do.

Just how useful, however, is open to debate. On one level there are the intensely practical things to do: you know, reupholster a seat, spatchcock a chicken, carve a turkey or make compost.

But the joy of this book isn’t the things you might do, but those which you will never do, but just enjoy knowing that someone else might.

So, if you want to crochet a pair of earrings, make an inner tube stool, bottle-feed a baby goat, make home-made shaving cream, or yoke and hitch an ox team, this is the book for you. Superb.

Storey’s Curious Compendium of Practical & Obscure Skills, published by Storey Publishing, £23.99.

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