"The Art of Coarse ….." is a book title unfamiliar to few. By my reckoning there were nineteen books in the series published by Hutchinson (originally Museum Press, via Stanley Paul); six by Patrick "Spike" Hughes, thirteen by Michael Frederick Green. The Coarse books are a product of their age. It could be argued that Stephen Potter's 1947 masterpiece "Gamesmanship" inspired the humour in Spike Hughes' "The Art of Cricket" which was written at a time (1954) when car ownership was sufficiently rare to influence team selection. The difference between "Coarse Cricket" and "Coarse Sex" is symptomatic of the social changes that happened between 1954 and the 80's.
Why should so many of this fifty-year-old series still be in print? Apart from their ability to make me (and I assume many others) laugh out loud, it is perhaps because of the topics, which touch on many people's lives. Few older rugby players will be unfamiliar with "The Art of Coarse Rugby"; my first trip crewing on a sea-going boat was rewarded with a copy of "The Art of Coarse Cruising", and I wonder how many copies of "the Art of Coarse Acting" have been given as first night gifts. If anyone has ever managed to buy a house without some event from "Moving" striking a chord, I envy them! Coarse Acting is alive and well, with the Questors Theatre where Michael Green gathered much of his material hosting a show in 2004, presented by Michael himself.
Both Michael Green and Spike Hughes have produced much more. Green's two autobiographies have added considerably to my interest, and Patrick "Spike" Hughes seems to have led a fascinating life and whose work I hope in time to get to know.
Why this web site? After a visit to the Norfolk Broads, I retrieved a copy of "The Art of Coarse Sailing" from the loft. Having chuckled as much again as I did the first half dozen or so times that I read it, I turned to the Internet to find out more about Michael Green and the other books in the series. Normally this is the sort of subject that would have a few pages devoted to it on the web, but I found little. There were plenty of the books for sale, some references to Spike Hughes, but no site specifically on the subject.
Another trip to the loft revealed I was a subconscious Michael Green fan, owning many of his books. I decided to put what little I knew on the web, and hopefully others will help me fill in the blanks. That great modern waster of time and money, eBay, lead me to start collecting, and although I'm not likely to do so in a hurry, the books are not that rare that a complete set of first editions is out of the question.
I first published this site in 2004, received very little feedback, and just left it alone. Wikipedia now hosts biographies of both Michael and Spike. However, although I moved to a new web host, I failed to keep the email address up to date. Now I find the site the first entry in Google for the “Art of Coarse”, and the stats from my new web host shows it receives a modest but regular number of hits. So, armed with new web publishing software and some spare time, I decided to freshen it up a bit, and see if I get any feedback this time!
Last updated 2/4/2010