Histories of the Unexpected
How Everything has a History
‘History is like a maze’, write the authors as they embark on this journey through 30 topics, inspired by their podcast series that promotes non-linear historical thinking. They reveal how our everyday world connects with the past in surprising, thought-provoking ways, including the use of paper clips as an anti-Nazi symbol, cats’ significance for the French Revolution and the links between letters, marriage, the Royal Navy and eggs.
The Superior Person's Book of Words
Peter Bowler’s 'superior person' has command of words such as egregious, quotidian and uxorious, and 'we yield to him in debate, not because his arguments are more cogent, but because they are less intelligible'. This A–Z of 500 words could set the reader on the road to superiority. The definitions are accompanied by the all-important notes on usage, lest one lose lexical credibility.
Thirty-Six Short Entertainments
Beginning with flatpack ‘Instructions for Assembling Your Pocket Playhouse’, Michael Frayn’s miniature sketches relish the absurdities of modern life. Here we find a telephone prayer answering service (‘Your prayer has been placed in a queue’); flirting academics in the Working Group on Gender Stereotyping in Indefinite Pronouns; and the nail-biting national semi-finals of the UK TV Watching Championship. Slightly off-mint.
Hester and Harriet
Love, Lies and Linguine
‘For all those friends and readers who wanted to know what happened next...’ Hilary Spiers continues the adventures of the widowed sisters as they decide to widen their horizons beyond the village and travel to Italy, where a romantic opportunity arises for Hester.
F Is for France
A Curious Cabinet of French Wonders
This alphabetical guide to the quirkier aspects of French life and culture ranges from absinthe to Zinedine Zidane, via cheese, garlic, sex and, of course, wine. It includes recipes (‘take a dozen frogs’ legs…), illustrations and curious facts rarely mentioned in regular guidebooks. Who knew, for example, that the French are addicted to McDonald’s, that the town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape has banned UFOs from landing, or that kangaroos roam the forests around Paris?
Raise Your Game
How to Speak Fluent Sport
Specialist language is an intrinsic part of all sport, whether it is understanding an idiosyncratic scoring system or being able to correctly apply the terms peculiar to the technique or equipment of a game. Illustrated with more than 60 cartoons, this humorous look at the eccentricities of 50 popular sports explains how they are played and provides a lexicon of the terminology of each.
What I Learnt
What My Listeners Say – and Why We Should Take Notice
Jeremy Vine succeeded Jimmy Young as presenter of Radio 2's phone-in show in 2003 and since then has taken over 25,000 calls – including the joyous, the furious and the occasional joker. As well as his radio show, Vine is a familiar face on television, and his book describes working on everything from general election coverage to Strictly Come Dancing, but his emphasis is on his listeners ‘and all the surprises they spring’. Slightly off-mint.
Monty Python's Flying Circus
All the Bits: Complete and Annotated
When Monty Python’s Flying Circus first appeared on British television screens in 1969, any public outrage was drowned out by laughter as the show’s unpredictable, satirical comedy laid into the outdated foibles of the British establishment. Illustrated by numerous stills, the scripts of all 45 episodes are compiled here, including the episode containing the ‘Dead Parrot’ sketch, and are generously annotated by explanations of obscure references.
Notes From the Sofa
Award-winning author Raymond Briggs looks back over 70 years with characteristic humour in this illustrated compilation of thoughts, ideas and memories from his column in The Oldie. He recalls the lack of facilities at his spinster aunts’ house during the Second World War, bemoans the irritating ubiquity of football and muses on a game of Shoe a Little Horse, the ‘stuff’ he’s accumulated in his lifetime and the changing nature of rude words.
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Edward sends his true love the traditional twelve presents, and Emily loves the gold rings, but the birds are ruining the croquet lawn and by the time the leaping lords arrive – all enthusiastically illustrated by Quentin Blake – Emily’s thank-you notes are replaced by a solicitor’s letter.
How to Build a Universe
The numerous archival images, cartoons, quotes and programme excerpts in this companion book to the BBC Radio 4 series The Infinite Monkey Cage pay homage to the 1970s Look and Learn annuals, which thrilled children with their miscellany of science. Here, Cox and Ince inspire adult scientific wonder through jokes, jibes and nostalgic digressions, anchored by serious explorations of thermodynamics, particle physics, big bang theory, space travel, extra-terrestrial life and, of course, infinity.