Stop the World, I Want to Get Off...
Unpublished Letters to the Daily Telegraph
‘Sir, It has all been a terrible mistake. We thought we were voting to leave Eurovision.’ In a year dominated by the EU Referendum, the Telegraph’s letter-writers were in full spate – and not just on the momentous vote. Here, in sections such a ‘The Use and Abuse of Language’, ‘Box Gogglers’ and ‘Royal Blushes’ are readers’ opinions – frankly stated – on everything from family life to ‘Benito Trump’.
The Complete Book of Mothers-in-Law
After a history of the role through the ages, Luisa Dillner describes all manner of mothers-in-law, including the motherly, racy and fairy-tale types, royal and presidential mothers-in-law and the mad, bad and scheming variety, ending with a guide to being a good mother-in-law.
Foster's English Oddities
Beginning with Jack Ferry, who crossed the English Channel on a floating tricycle in 1883, and ending on a happy note with the remarkable Ann Green, who survived being hanged in Oxford in 1860 and even survived helpful bystanders’ attempts to finish her off, Foster’s collection of ‘oddities’ includes weird and wonderful people doing strange things, bizarre natural events (hedgehog living through a 40-degree washing machine cycle etc) and some spooky coincidences.
Has the World Gone Completely Mad...?
Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph
A vintage year for readers' letters, 2015 offered up Poldark on TV (an excess of chest hair), Fifty Shades of Grey, Nicola Sturgeon vs the English, a royal birth and, to cap it all, a general election starring Labour's pink bus and David Cameron with his shirt sleeves rolled up – but not much gets past a Telegraph reader: '... the fact he has no breast pocket shows that he is truly a toff.'
Comic, Curious and Quirky
News Stories from Centuries Past
Rona Levin, of the British Library's Newspaper Archive, has tracked down an eclectic variety of stories, ranging in date from 1729 to 1930, which cover dastardly crimes, sexual scandals, animal antics and medical oddities. Some (such as the lady offended by seeing footballers' knees) reveal profound shifts in British society, while others (horsemeat fraud and doctors' poor handwriting) remind us that many things haven't changed.
I Think I Can See Where You're Going Wrong
And Other Wise and Witty Comments from Guardian Readers
Gathered from the daily crop of some 47,000 online comments on the Guardian website, this compilation ranges between heartfelt opinion and daft puns. It is unfailingly entertaining as Guardian readers air their views 'below the line' on everything from the pronunciation of quinoa to theatre-going: 'I can't resist a good nap during a visit to the theatre. Comfy seats, warmth, people talking in the background – lovely.'
The Customer's Always Wrong
Stupid Things Shoppers Say
Will cinemas pause films while you pop to the toilet? Can you get a refund after cutting the legs off new jeans? Is pouring butter into your computer a good idea? This book contains some of the most bizarre queries and complaints that staff have faced from the kind of customer who spends two frustrating days 'rewinding' a DVD or is upset when an omelette smells of eggs.
Avoid Them Like The Plague!
From 'affluent society' to 'zero-sum game', Nigel Fountain lays bare the origins, meaning and misuse of around 150 familiar phrases. Whether explaining the technical basis of 'pushing the envelope', the business credentials of 'bottom line' or the former military efficacy of 'heads-up', the book offers cogent arguments for cleaning up our vocabulary and simply abandoning some of the worst offenders. Previously in Postscript as The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.
and Other Small Events that Changed History
Phil Mason shows how small turns of chance have had bigger impacts on history than might have been expected. A compilation of bad timings, misunderstandings, missed opportunities and sometimes serendipitous good fortune, the book has chapters covering politics, war, science, the arts, sport and crime, and poses intriguing questions such as did tea drinking kick-start the Industrial Revolution in Britain?
What Will They Think Of Next...?
Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph
The sixth annual selection of Telegraph readers' epistolary gems features evergreen complaints about such tribulations as the state of BBC English and the menace of garden snails, as well as whimsical reflections on the news, from David Beckham's buttons and President Hollande's romantic difficulties to Russia's stand-off with Ukraine.
I Don't Believe It!
Original Complaints of Tunbridge Wells
The British used to be better at complaining, as this sequel to the bestselling Outraged of Tunbridge Wells demonstrates. Before the internet debased the subtle art of invective, newspaper readers would take up their pens to inform editors of their disgust and outrage, perfectly balancing insouciance with sarcasm. The letters collected here appeared in Kent newspapers between Georgian times and the Second World War, and range from the pedantic and humorous to the poignant and political.
A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, from Politics to Pop
'Panther spotted in Devon' makes it to number two in the list of 'Recurring news stories' and The Doors are number one in 'Most overrated 1960s bands'. This collection of amusingly debatable lists from John Rentoul's Independent on Sunday column ranges from 'Lost positives' (such as ert, gorm and gusted) to 'Films panned as turkeys that are actually quite good'.