The Not-So-Rude 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.
The Essential Guide to Correct Behaviour and Etiquette
Philip Howard delighted Times readers with his 'Modern Times' column on contemporary etiquette, fielding questions of table manners, family feuds and sharing taxis, the dress code for kilt-wearers at a Pakistani wedding (daytime tie, with an emergency bow tie in your sporran) and what to do if it rains at Glyndebourne ('Outdoor opera in June brings out the ancestral fortitude of the British character'). This compilation presents readers' questions on 'etiket' and Howard's witty, informative and often hilarious replies.
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'.
Nine Strange Ways the World Could End
Scientists are actively searching for objects in space that pose a threat to Earth, but recently discovered 'dark asteroids' are worryingly difficult to spot; and the potential dangers of self- replicating nanoparticles and gamma ray blasts are an equally frightening prospect. Leaving aside the well-documented risks of climate change and global conflict, this entertainingly written investigation presents less familiar, but scientifically plausible, possibilities that could end or seriously damage life on Earth.
The Digested Read of the Twentieth Century
A literary parodist whose weekly Digested Read column in the Guardian enjoys a cult following, John Crace has compiled his own list of 100 classic novels, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) to JM Coetzee's Disgrace (1999). The whole western literary canon is fair game for Crace's short, but mercilessly accurate parodies - not even EM Forster, Proust, James Joyce and William Faulkner escape.
Trick Riding for Amateurs
With the aid of a collection of instructional photographs of soberly dressed Edwardian gentleman and lady cyclists, this book demonstrates a series of stunts of varying difficulty, from a stationary balance to riding backwards seated on the handlebars. An amusing curiosity for today's army of cycling enthusiasts, the book is a facsimile edition of a volume first published in 1901.
My Gonads Roar
The Twisted World of Anagrams
The infinite flexibility of the English language can twist the meaning of words with a change of letter order or produce hilarious related phrases from the same collection of letters. Richard Napier fully explores anagrams in this amusing book, re-christening celebrities, films, sports people and other well-known names and phrases from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (fit female, pushy bravery) to Gordon Ramsay (my gonads roar).
The Theory & Practice of Gamesmanship
The Art of Winning Games Without Actually Cheating
Stephen Potter's classic 1947 manual is the origin of the term 'gamesmanship' and humorously describes how to employ dubious, but not illegal, tactics to distract, disturb and generally put off your opponent in any given sporting situation. This nicely produced edition preserves the vintage feel of the original and the Machiavellian ploys are as relevant to the cunning game-player today as ever.
The Great Writers' Garden Companion
In this indispensable horticultural manual, twelve great authors share their handy gardening tips. Brett Easton Ellis tells you how to remove a sucker, Mary Shelley creates new life from a vine, Alan Bennett reflects on caring for Heather, while Ibsen unearths some dark family secrets. Each spirited, note-perfect literary pastiche is illustrated in the style of a famous artist, from Klimt to Hockney.
My Grammar and I... Or Should That Be 'Me'?
How to Speak and Write It Right
Bearing in mind always that 'one person's unbreakable rule is another person's insufferable pedantry', this bestselling guide renders grammar painless, even entertaining. Here, the bitter pills of restrictive and non-defining clauses are sugared with amusing examples, quotations from great writers, grammatical jokes and choice morsels of information in 'Smart Alec' and 'Swot' boxes.
Despite having apparently no talent for singing or dancing, John Cleese joined the Footlights club when he took up his place at Cambridge in 1960. Among his contemporaries were Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Graham Chapman with whom he would go on to form Monty Python. This autobiography describes the comedian's life and influences from his childhood and time as a teacher at his old prep school to his success as a scriptwriter, comedian and ultimately film star.
My Sunday Best
101 Curious Contemplations on Modern Life
Diners taking photographs of their food in restaurants; the top ten books that people say they've read, but haven't; hiding pieces of paper with your PIN number in the teapot... Oliver Pritchett's reflections on the trials and tribulations of modern life are arranged by themes including animals, eating out, family life and fantasy life. With cartoons by Matt.
Annie Tempest's award-winning cartoon strip in Country Life follows the foibles and family of Daffy and Dicky Tottering, who live in the fading grandeur of Tottering Hall, Tottering-by-Gently, North Pimmshire. In this collection Daffy gets a tattoo of her PIN numbers, Dicky continues his researches in the wine cellar, the black Labradors pre-wash the plates... and life goes tottering on.
The Very Hungover Caterpillar
Dad wakes up, fully clothed on the sofa, surrounded by early morning children and terribly, terribly hungover. He tries one paracetamol, two cups of sweet tea, three slices of toast, four rashers of bacon... but nothing avails. Eventually he goes to bed wrapped in a big green duvet and waits for metamorphosis.
I Nearly Died Laughing
Tony Husband's Yobs cartoon for Private Eye and his many contributions to publications including The Times, Punch, The Spectator and the Sun have made him one of Britain's most celebrated cartoonists. This collection assembles more than 150 of his witty observations tackling the everyday concerns of modern life such as the battle of the sexes, people and their pets and getting on with the neighbours. Off-mint.
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.
Sign Language 3
Further Adventures in Unfortunate English from the Readers of The Telegraph
Native English speakers often have little knowledge of foreign languages, but possess a quick eye and keen ear for double entendres and puns suggested by foreign words or the careless use of their own tongue. This third collection of humorous photos includes the menu board at a Viennese restaurant temptingly offering five pieces of 'crispy crap' and the service van sporting the logo of Spanish internet provider 'ArSeNet'.
The Broken Woman
Studio Collection II
Pam Ayres's second 'Studio Collection' contains over 50 poems recorded, many of them for the first time, in 2008. Beginning with 'The Broken Woman', these pieces from one of the nation's favourite writers boast some characteristically off-beat titles, including 'Won't Someone Take Our Barbecue Away?', 'The Battle of Portaloo' and 'Cling to Me, Nigel'. 2 CDs total duration approx. 2 hours.
As a Dodo
The Obituaries You'd Really Like to See
Death comes to us all, but this time he's swapped his scythe for laughing gas. Based on a blog, this collection of mock obituaries casts a satirical eye over the world of celebrity, sport, politics and society to mourn the passing of everything from the Eurovision Song Contest to the VHS tape, Tony Blair and Britney Spears's hair, while the simple cup of coffee will be buried at St Arbuck's Church of the Decaf Grande Skinny Mochalattefrappaespressocino.
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. 4 CDs total duration approx. 5 hrs.
Mrs Weber's Omnibus
The award-winning illustrator and graphic novelist Posy Simmonds may be best known for Tamara Drewe and Gemma Bovery, which have both been made into films starring Gemma Arterton. But her earlier work is equally worthy of celebration. This heavyweight anthology collects her long-running strip that ran in the Guardian throughout the 1980s about the middle-class, mid-life woes of three 1950s school friends, as they try to remain true to the ideals of the 1960s.
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.
Quips and Quotes for the Feline-Obsessed
'If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.' That's according to Mark Twain, whose admiration for the singular qualities of the domestic cat is shared by the many writers, poets, celebrities and wits responsible for the amusing observations in this bedside book for cat lovers.
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.
Mrs Hudson's Diaries
A View from the Landing at 221B
'New tenants in the first floor rooms.' So begins the association of long-suffering landlady Mrs Hudson with Sherlock Holmes, 'the very worst tenant in London', as documented in her miraculously 'rediscovered' diaries. Comedy legend Barry Cryer and his son Bob present this enterprising Victorian lady's humorous musings on the great detective's eccentric ways and the mysterious visitors, disappearances, shouts and bangs that came with him.
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').
WG Grace Ate My Pedalo
A Curious Cricket Compendium
'Spoof Victorian cricket annuals were funnier when I were playing,' is the remark bogusly attributed to Geoffrey Boycott in response to this book. Authentically styled as a late Victorian journal, it purports to have been published in 1896 but is in fact a parody that cleverly mixes cricketing nostalgia with the modern game and pokes fun at the characters of the sport old and new.
They Should Have Asked My Husband
Pam Ayres has been delighting the world with her very personal form of poetry since the mid-1970s. This set features some of her best-loved poems and stories, as performed in a one-woman show at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, including 'Yes I'll Marry You My Dear' and 'Oh, I Wish I'd Looked After Me Teeth'. 2 CDs total duration approx. 2 hours.
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 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.
Let's Compromise - and Say I'm Right...
Calman on Love and Relationships
'So - how was it for you?' 'How was what?' Mel Calman (1931-1994) was a prolific cartoonist whose work was published in several newspapers, and is immediately recognizable for both its minimalist graphic style and the succinct captions that skewer our pomposity and self-delusion. This compilation of his wry reflections on love, marriage, divorce and the battle of the sexes is edited by his daughter, and has a foreword by Michael Palin.
The Ultimate Book of Naughty Graffiti
The Writing on the Wall!
'I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.' 'Don't lend money - it causes amnesia.' 'What's another word for thesaurus?' Toilet walls and office noticeboards are excellent repositories of scrawled wit and wisdom, limericks and one-liners. This compilation presents the finest, funniest and sauciest examples, from philosophical musings to a selection of those grossly unfair but once ubiquitous criticisms of Skodas and Essex girls.
A Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Reflecting on the insights gleaned from 15 years' residence in the Languedoc, Jonathan Miller has produced an A-Z guide to 'the endless paradoxes of France'. Not only does he reveal that, in the home of liberte, dental hygienists are illegal and it is forbidden to practise shooting zombies, but also that, despite the country's reputation for haute cuisine, McDonald's operations in France are said to be the company's most successful.
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.
Or Terribly Gloomy
Ludwig Bechstein (1801-1860), chiefly remembered for his collections of fairytales and legends, also wrote this poem about an endearingly curmudgeonly fellow who is only made gloomier by clouds, sunshine, midges, dancing and birdsong. This new translation is by Julia Donaldson, with full-page illustrations for each line by Axel Scheffler, her collaborator on The Gruffalo. At the end of the book the full translation is printed facing the German original.
Off The Leash
It's a Dog's Life
By the creator of the Fred cartoons, Off the Leash introduces the world of Puppy School lessons (emotional manipulation, messy drinking etc), the nightly canine invasion of Bob and Sue's bed, the lazy dogs' basket and dogs generally getting one over on the humans. Along with the cartoons, Fawcett has included some pencil drawings reflecting the special relationships between dogs and their owners.
Dante's Divine Comedy
Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy is one of the greatest works of medieval literature, in which the poet travels through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise to reflect on sin and redemption. Seymour Chwast has wittily converted it into a graphic novel, with Dante clad in trench coat and fedora guided by the poet Virgil through a noirish Inferno peopled by gluttons and gangsters, before ascending to higher regions to experience a blinding vision of the love of God.
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.'
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.
Manners for Schoolboys
This manual of social etiquette was published in 1829 to help young gentlemen in their 'acquisition of a polite deportment'. Combining timeless advice with insights into the society of Georgian Britain, it instructs boys on the correct behaviour towards superiors, equals and inferiors, both at home and at school, so that they can steer a course of 'modest dignity' between 'sheepish bashfulness and obtrusive boldness'.