Something in the Cellar...
Wonderful World of Wine
Surveying wine and its devotees in pen and ink, these drawings were created for a variety of publications in the 1970s and early 1980s by the great satirical cartoonist, Ronald Searle (1920-2011). Along with 'The World of Wine' series covering wine ceremonies worldwide, from the fraught Annual Ceremony of Accepting the Kremlin Rouge in the USSR to Spain's joyful Festival of Hoofing the Rioja, are various lunatic methods for opening a bottle of wine and other wine-related mishaps.
Am I Missing Something...?
Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph
A letters page may seem antiquated in an era of texting and tweeting, yet the Telegraph's letter writers – often bemused, sometimes furious, always erudite – are a breed apart. Here are their wise, waggish and unpublished opinions on everything from gay marriage ('Sir – Gays should be able to marry so they can suffer like the rest of us') to royal babies ('Sir – Maybe the hospital could release pink or blue smoke when the baby is born').
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Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph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.'
The Old Man and the Knee
How to Be a Golden Oldie
‘I’d like to get one thing straight. I am not old. I know what old is, and I’m not it.’ This light-hearted guide to retirement discusses the amusing and exasperating points of ageing, from what to do with your spare time and coping with the changing attitudes and manners of younger generations to worrying about declining physical fitness and the perils of social media.
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'.
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
Ladies of Letters
Take a Cheeky Peek at Irene and Vera's Private Correspondence
Based on the BBC Radio Four comedy series, which was adapted for TV, Irene and Vera are ladies of a certain age, both widowed and with errant offspring. They reveal details of their lives and families through their highly entertaining – though often acerbic and sometimes downright vitriolic – correspondence.
The author of eleven novels such as Headlong and the Booker-longlisted Skios, and many plays including Noises Off, Michael Frayn is also a prolific newspaper columnist. Dating from 1962 to 1994, this selection of his pieces deploys his characteristic wit, razor-sharp observation and offbeat comedy on a range of topics from bureaucratic absurdity to pretentious productions of Shakespeare. They are arranged in alphabetical order ‘because I couldn’t think of any more rational system’. Slightly off-mint.
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.
Off to the Vet
The YouTube adventures of Simon's Cat, which first appeared in 2008, have attracted millions of viewers and the hapless cat's exploits have since extended to newspaper cartoon strips, books and even a game. Identifying feline foibles that will chime with cat owners everywhere, this collection includes the colour story 'Off to the Vet' as well as other cartoons in the signature black-and-white style.
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.
Baffling & Bizarre Inventions
This humorous multiple-choice quiz features 45 extraordinary inventions – including a talking watch, a mechanical golf instructor and a steam-driven bus, drawn from 200 years of American ingenuity – and challenges the reader to guess each object’s use from an illustration and description.
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.
How to Look After Your Human
A Dog's Guide
Dog owners often seem to arrange their lives around their beloved pets and this manual shows how to train them to maximum canine advantage. Written from the point of view of Maggie Mayhem, a border terrier whose significant humans are Kim Sears and tennis-playing husband Andy Murray, the colourfully illustrated book offers amusing advice on such topics as exercise and socialization, grooming and hygiene. Age 7+
Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives
Limiting himself to one fact per personage, Frank Key presents an abbreviated, yet thoroughly engrossing biographical dictionary. Between Lascelles Abercrombie (an English poet challenged to a duel by Ezra Pound) and the Rumanian spirit medium Eleonore Zugun, we learn that Michael Tippett called his fridge ‘Bernard Levin’, that Alfred Hitchcock was terrified of eggs, and Robert Southey, otherwise a poet, once invited William and Mary Wordsworth to dinner and served roast owl.
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.
'You're nearly old enough to be dead, aren't you, Grandma?' 'If teachers keep asking you questions, does that mean they don't know much?' Compiled by former school inspector Gervase Phinn, this collection of children's disarming observations and impossible-to-answer questions proves Phinn’s point that 'on the whole' children are an amazing source of amusement and wonder.
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 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.
Tails from the Booth
What happens when you put dogs in a photobooth? When Lynn Terry decided to experiment she was delighted with the resulting images, which beautifully brought out their canine sitters' personalities. Her book is a compilation of these joyous and quirky photographs, interspersed with the story of the project and even a few tips to help you capture your own pets striking a pose on camera.
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.
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.
This handsome collection of work by the veteran Political Cartoonist of The Times reproduces more than 100 savagely satirical sketches covering tumultuous events from autumn 2013 to the aftermath of the 2015 General Election, and includes the rise of Nigel Farage and Nicola Sturgeon; the fall of Ed Miliband (drawn to resemble the eccentric inventor Wallace from Wallace and Gromit); crises in Greece, Syria and the NHS; and a heartfelt response to the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The Not-So-Nude Ride of Lady Godiva
and Other Morsels of Misinformation from the History Books
Was there a real Lady Godiva? Yes. Did she ride through Coventry in the nude to persuade her husband to lower taxes? Probably not. David Haviland sorts fact from fiction in this entertaining compilation of historical trivia ranging from the Trojan War, the Delphic oracle and Julius Caesar to Sandringham's clocks, Kim Jong-Il's record-breaking round of golf – and even modern wireless technology. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Sign Language 2
More Travels in Unfortunate English
In these days when everyone carries a camera with them on their phone, few opportunities are missed by eagle-eyed tourists to record humorously mangled translations, unwitting ironies and double entendres on public signs, menus, shop fronts and foreign grocery products. Among the gems in this collection are the impressive premises of Penang's 'Chiap Tatt Enterprise' and the luxury coach run by Barcelona's 'Chavi Tours'.
The Banned List
A Manifesto Against Jargon and Cliche
John Rentoul's polemical essay, which highlights annoyingly pretentious and hackneyed phrases, might make uncomfortable reading for those who exhibit a tendency to issue cast-iron guarantees while pulling out all the stops and proactively strategizing going forward. This is followed by the full 'banned list' of such objectionable locutions, which Rentoul has diligently compiled to save his fellow writers from annoying their readers.
Welcome to 'Just a Minute!'
A Celebration of Britain's Best-Loved Radio Comedy
Alongside regular players of the Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute such as Clement Freud, Peter Jones, Sheila Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Paul Merton and Jenny Eclair, Nicholas Parsons has appeared in every edition as chairman or (in the early days) panellist. In this celebration he recalls some of the funniest exchanges through the years, remembers the well-known personalities who have played the game and discusses how the show has evolved over its nearly 50-year history.
An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain
Or...60 Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always
In the abridged audio version of his bestselling book, the follow-up to An Utterly Impartial History of Britain, John O'Farrell brings us bang up to date and defuses disaster with comedy as he surveys the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain since 1945. Read by the author.
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').
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.
What It Is, and How to Retain it.
'Much dignity is given by long and sweeping skirts,' advises the anonymous author of this 1873 guide – and, perhaps more surprisingly, 'A little gin may be used instead of eau de Cologne.' With illustrative quotation from classical authors and English poetry, she identifies the features most admired in feminine beauty and gives tips for Victorian ladies wishing to improve their daily beauty regime.
In this extraordinary vision of the feline world we encounter a 'circus cat secretly rehearsing Hamlet', an 'unusually repulsive cat startled by a gesture of affection' and 'the exhausted Persian cat contemplating the advantages of monogamy'... three of the weird and wonderful creatures captured by Searle's inimitable illustrative style and vivid imagination.
Or, The Happy Land!
Author and illustrator Mary Frances Ames (1853-1929) produced several quirkily patriotic books at the turn of the 20th century. This example, first published in 1902, consists of a series of short humorous verses facing colour illustrations that celebrate such symbols of Englishness as cricket and golf, the Lord Mayor and First Sea-Lord, roast beef, ping-pong and bank holidays.
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.
Letters of Not
In his compendium of 'undistinguished correspondence from the annals of history', Dale Shaw assembles the fictional letters, and in one case, sticky notes, of the great and good on off-days. We have a letter with directions from Cormac McCarthy; St Francis gets an eviction order from his landlord for keeping pets; and James Joyce posts an 'out of office' notice – 'Now for the weekending and the weekening of the daze and the dillydallying...'.
Conkers for Goalposts
To preserve the memory of the 1970s' best-loved playground games, this not entirely serious guide gathers together the rules, techniques and etiquette of such classic pastimes as Fighting, Football and French Skipping, Conkers, Para-Shorting and GBH Biking. With a foreword by 'sporting legend' Barry Wardrobe and spoof adverts for such bodies as the British Association of Schoolboy Hooligans (BASH), it is an affectionate celebration of childhood past.
For all those who trembled at the prospect of chopped-off thumbs, catching fire or being dipped in ink, here's an exquisite refinement to Hoffman's cautionary tales: Struwwelpeter in Latin. This very special edition reproduces Hoffmann's original drawings – like Edward Lear, he preferred his own amateurish efforts to refined illustrations – with Eduard Bornemann's 1956 Latin translation. This is a German edition and the translator's notes (in a separate booklet) are in German.
Classicist Peter Jones and David Dare-Plumpton (alias Plausus, crossword compiler of The Times Listener) have concocted what could amount to an alternative Christmas – you probably won't have time for the Queen's Speech or a turkey. Their 50 'cruciverbally exquisite' Latin crosswords are arranged in five 'courses', from Facillimum to Difficillimum. The clues are in English (phew).
The Smoking Diaries
When playwright Simon Gray turned 65 he began recording his frank and entertaining thoughts in this diary, described by Craig Brown as 'the great hidden treasure of English comedy'. Gray records details of his daily life but also reminisces about his younger years and ranges across topics as various as air travel, famous piles sufferers and giving up smoking. Off-mint.
Imagine My Surprise...
Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph
From whimsical musings ('Am I alone in thinking Prince William waves like a girl?') to serious political commentary ('Come back, John Prescott. All is forgiven'), this is a delightful compendium of the variously frivolous and furious readers' letters sent to the Daily Telegraph in 2012, but which – until now – didn't make it into print.
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.
Sign Language 3
Further Adventures in Unfortunate English
Diligently 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’.