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.
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.
Postcard From The Past
The postcard shows charming views of the Yorkshire Dales, but the sender writes, 'Huge hordes of wild sheep, cows and rabbits ready to attack at any time'; and on the back of four views of Weymouth, one word: 'Murder'. Tom Jackson describes this book of holiday postcards, with captions taken from their messages, as 'a collection of very short and cryptic stories set in that drowned Atlantis of the sixties and seventies'.
Letters to the Lady Upstairs
No. 102 Boulevard Haussmann is an elegant address in the eighth arrondissement of Paris. Upstairs lives Madame Williams, with her second husband and her harp; downstairs, Marcel Proust is trying to write In Search of Lost Time. Between 1909 and 1919, a correspondence that starts with a request for silence develops into a touching friendship, discussing books, music, domestic arrangements, illness, and the sadness of losing friends in the war.
From Hopeless Hounds to Tyrannical Tortoises: Animal Letters to The Telegraph
Having mined the archives of readers’ letters ‘like a chaffinch in search of the juiciest worms’, Iain Hollingshead presents a hugely entertaining selection that illustrates the British love and respect for animals, whether tame or wild, mammal, bird or amphibian, and the occasional stick insect. Violent dislike is reserved for flying insects, and the Scottish midge in particular. Slightly off-mint.
Slap and Tickle
The Unusual History of Sex and the People Who Have It
This irreverent guide takes a peek at a perennially fascinating subject. A romp through the biological mechanics and history of human intercourse is spiced up with intimate true stories, public scandals, censorship, sex toys, fetishes, and a concise glossary of filthy language. Eclectic, entertaining and original, it reveals everything you always wanted to know about sex – and quite a few things you probably didn’t. Sexually explicit.
Slightly Foxed – But Still Desirable
Ronald Searle's Wicked World of Book Collecting
‘Ordering from a bookseller’s catalogue without speaking the specialist language’, writes Ronald Searle, ‘is about as dangerous as trying to chat up the promised-in-marriage daughter of a Corsican tax inspector’. For the would-be collector Searle presents an irreverent glossary of 60 bookselling terms, illustrated as only he can with book-loving cats, dogs and insects, lady librarians and manic bibliophiles.
Edward Lear's Nonsense Birds
Coming to life in just a few, seemingly effortless lines and the occasional wash of colour, Edward Lear’s nonsense birds have personality, attitude and, quite often, very human traits. Drawing on the British Library collections, this book presents birds from several of Lear’s original nonsense books, and includes stories, limericks, birds for learning colours and birds for learning the alphabet.
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.
Lost at Sea
The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Investigative journalist Jon Ronson is drawn to quirky and unusual stories and manages to write with humour while treating his subjects seriously. This collection of his writings from the Guardian, GQ and other publications covers a diverse range of topics from Church of England Alpha courses to psychics and alien investigators.
Funny Way To Be A Hero
TV producer John Fisher first published his exploration of the great 20th-century comedians in 1973, tracing the tradition from music-hall pioneers such as Dan Leno and Max Miller through to the radio comics and the last of the breed in Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper and Ken Dodd. This completely revised and expanded 40th anniversary edition profiles over 30 of the giants of British entertainment and contains over 350 illustrations.
An Anthology of Famous Last Words
Salvador Dalí's enigmatic parting question, ‘Where is my clock?’; Louis B Meyer’s gloomy conclusion, ‘It wasn’t worth it’; Hegel’s final, impenetrable comment, ‘Only one man ever understood me, and he didn’t understand me’... The last words of 200 famous men and women, together with notes on their deaths, are gathered here in five chapters on Hedonists, Optimists, Pragmatists, Visionaries and those who delivered a Parting Shot.
Sign Language 3
Further Adventures in Unfortunate English
Compiled by the Telegraph Travel team, this is their third collection of signs gone terribly, but often hilariously wrong. The photographs of misspelt, mistranslated or simply incomprehensible English signs, mostly on foreign soil, include the memorable ‘Good slag porridge’ in Beijing, an Indonesian shoe shop called ‘Athlete’s Foot’, and in London E1, the street sign for ‘Beaumont Sqaure’.
The jacket assures us that ‘No dogs were harmed in the making of this book’, but some of them do look a bit apprehensive, some are loving it and the bull terrier is just humouring the odd photographer lady with the Frisbees and the wind machine (therein lies the trick). We dare you not to smile. No jacket.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, hitchhiking around the galaxy after the demise of Earth, are in trouble: the Improbability Drive fails in their host’s ship, Arthur has jammed the computer by asking it for a cup of tea and the restaurant is 576,000 million miles away. Part two of the five-part Hitchhiker trilogy.
Through It All I've Always Laughed
(An Autobiography of Myself)
Well known from the Radio 4 comedy, Steve Delaney's cult character, Count Arthur Strong, is an ageing entertainer from Doncaster with a deluded sense of his own importance and a talent for mangling words. This memoir, presented as a typewritten script with the great man's own handwritten annotations, is a satire of British show business autobiographies, with stories of childhood struggles, national service, early theatrical breaks and celebrity anecdotes accompanied by the author’s nonsensical thoughts and opinions. Off-mint.
Dancing with Cats
While researching their earlier, groundbreaking Why Cats Paint, Burton Silver and Heather Busch discovered another strange phenomenon – people dancing with their cats. Apparently, the ancient art of cat dancing is a method of channelling feline energy. Twenty-one owners and their cats have been interviewed and photographed as they skip the light fantastic... Foreword by Swami Shakya Bahrain and a bibliography (!), should you wish to learn more. Slightly off-mint.
Manners for Millionaires
Aimed at readers who still have fewer than 17 spare bedrooms, this satirical guide from 1900 explains the best ways to progress through the more elevated ranks of late-Victorian society. Its tips range from money-making schemes for paupers to the easiest means for the rich to rid themselves of those cumbersome spare millions. The book is surreally illustrated with woodcuts depicting (alleged) British fish.
Ronnie Corbett (1930-2016) was one of Britain's best-loved entertainers. Here he discusses his life and work with characteristic self-deprecating wit, including his Edinburgh childhood before the war; early ventures on the stage and screen; encounters with stars such as John Cleese, Noel Coward, Tony Hancock and Spike Milligan; plus his solo sitcom Sorry! and - of course - his long-running partnership with Ronnie Barker.
A Likely Tale, Lad
Laughs & Larks Growing Up in the 1970s
In this endearing memoir a former police officer who appeared in the 2005 BBC series Country Cops recalls his 1970s childhood in the North Yorkshire countryside. In retrospect, it seems to him like a perpetual summer: the family setting off on holiday in his dad's Morris Traveller, its roof-rack piled high; bicycle adventures and boyish pranks; fishing and football; jam sandwiches and pop – all set amid the idyllic landscape of God's Own County peopled with larger-than-life characters.
Finding the Plot
100 Graves to Visit Before You Die
From the splendour of Nelson's tomb in the crypt of St Paul's to the more commonplace gravestone of Eleanor Rigby in Liverpool, this guide selects the most interesting resting places to visit in Britain, telling the stories of the lives and deaths of the memorialized. Arranged geographically, the selection ranges from the much-visited shrine to Marc Bolan in Barnes to the Leicester car park where Richard III's remains were found.
The New Dictionary of Things There Should Be Words For
What should we call 'something that looks like minced beef but isn't'? Minsk, of course! 'Luxuriant nostril hairs'? Utrillas! Three decades after Douglas Adams and QI creator John Lloyd compiled The Meaning of Liff, here is a new collection of more than 900 familiar things that have hitherto remained unnamed, an oversight now corrected by recycling the appellations of places near and far.
The Unbelievable Truth
Introduced by David Mitchell as 'repentance' for Radio 4's Unbelievable Truth panel game and its 'dozens of episodes consisting of likely-sounding rubbish interspersed with accurate information rendered implausible', this book presents the true, if often rather bizarre, facts about subjects from Admiral Lord Nelson to Wool. Among all this bona fide information are Graham Garden's less than reliable lectures on a number of topics including Armadillos, Isaac Newton and Mrs Beeton.
Wallace & Gromit
The Complete Cracking Contraptions Manual
How do the Techno Trousers work? How did Wallace rebuild Preston the Cyber Dog? All is revealed in this two-volumes-in-one manual, with descriptions of how each of Wallace and Gromit's fantastic inventions works, cutaway diagrams and photographs of the machines in action. There are details of 40 contraptions, from the Bed Launcher to Wallace's A35 van, plus cutaways of his house and Invention cellar. Age 9–90
Do You Think You're Clever?
The Oxford and Cambridge Questions
How would you reduce crime through architecture? Why is there salt in the sea? Is feminism dead? Probably the stuff of nightmare if you are an Oxbridge candidate, but compulsive reading when your career doesn't depend on coming up with an answer, these are the questions asked at interviews for Oxford and Cambridge colleges. Ranging across disciplines from literature to physics, Farndon discusses 60 conundrums designed to separate the merely bright from the truly clever.
The Superior Person's Third Book of Words
Why say 'willy-nilly' when you could say 'nolens volens'? Peter Bowler's third collection of verbarian exotica aims to fortify your vocabulary and allow you to assert your ascendancy 'at the traffic lights of life', possibly. Along with practical definitions for words like haptephobia (fear of being touched) and oscitancy (yawning), Bowler relates cheerful anecdotes of eccentric scholars, idiotic concepts, oddities of the intellectual life and the odd deliberate mistake.
A Journey Round Britain by Postcode
Although assigned to major towns by the 1930s, postcodes were not in general use until towards the end of the 20th century. This humorous diary of a tour of Britain visits all 124 modern UK postcodes, making anecdotal observations about each area and identifying historical, geographical or cultural trivia, such as the fact that Strontian in PH (Perth) is the only place in Britain to have a chemical element named after it.
The Secret Diaries of Almost Everyone
This collection of revelatory, though utterly made-up, accounts from The Times includes new introductions from the author, whose satire skewers luminaries like Ed Balls, David Cameron, EL James, Prince Harry, Vladimir Putin, Oprah Winfrey – and Jeremy Clarkson ('Wednesday: A day in the Top Gear studio with Hammond and the other one, brainstorming new ways to be mean about the Germans').