'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.
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 Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Ian Holm narrates the famous tale of Dr Henry Jekyll and the elixir which he hoped would help him explore the hidden depths of his personality. Jekyll's experiments coincided with the appearance of Mr Edward Hyde on London's streets; but how are the two men related and how can the evil Hyde be stopped? 2 CDs, running time 2.5 hours.
Make Do and Mend
A Yesteryear Scrapbook
Recycling bones, patching up bomb-damaged buildings, fashioning a new hat out of an old trilby or collecting saucepans to make Spitfires... Pathe news items got across the wartime government's message to 'make do and mend' and popular songs took up the theme: this CD includes George Formby's I Did What I Could With My Gas Mask and Arthur Askey's The Thing-Ummy-Bob as well as a public service broadcast on saving bathwater. DVD.
Ordnance Survey Scottish Third Edition
Cassini's enhanced reproductions of historic Ordnance Survey maps are an invaluable resource for local historians, genealogists and social scientists. Each map has been carefully scanned, digitally re-projected and enlarged to the equivalent modern scale. The maps in this series are reproduced from the OS one-inch colour maps published between 1896 and 1904. They have been enlarged to 1:50,000 to match the present-day OS Landranger series, using the same sheet number and grid references to facilitate comparison.
The Reluctant Tommy
In the First World War, Ronald Skirth was an ordinary tommy serving in the trenches; but on the Flanders battlefield he had a strange epiphany and became a pacifist. His war became one of small acts of sabotage, committed at huge risk to his own life. Compiled from Skirth's wartime letters and journals and his memoir, this is the story of a young man sticking to his principles in impossible circumstances. The abridged audio version is read by Daniel Weyman.
Science Fiction Writers
Douglas Adams on Desert Island Discs, Ursula K LeGuin interviewed on Woman's Hour, Kurt Vonnegut talking on Third Ear in 1990.... Originally broadcast on BBC radio, these interviews feature ten of the really great science fiction writers talking about their art. The other seven writers are Isaac Asimov, Brian Aldiss, Doris Lessing, Michael Moorcock, JG Ballard, Arthur C Clarke (another Desert Islander) and Ray Bradbury. One CD: duration 73 minutes.
The Continuum Encyclopedia of American Literature
Comprising more than 1,100 signed biographical-critical entries, the Continuum Encyclopedia serves as both guide and companion to American literature, surveying its growth and development from Puritan writers of colonial times to the best-selling authors writing today. The volume also contains 70 substantial articles on topics and genres, from abolitionism to young adult literature, all cross-referenced to the biographical entries. Most articles include bibliographic information and there is an index of authors.
The 1066 Hastings Campaign
The English campaign of 1066 involved three critical battles – the Viking victory at Fulford, near York, and defeat five days later at Stamford Bridge, and William of Normandy's decisive victory at Hastings – with the defending King Harold Godwinson force marching his men up and down the country to repel the invaders. DVD. Running time 80 minutes.
The Bottom Line
Pilates works by using low-impact exercises and stretches to build flexibility and muscle strength in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips and back, putting emphasis on developing a strong core and improving coordination and balance. This DVD and illustrated book, written and introduced by leading Pilates instructor Lynne Robinson, take you through a series of 20 simple routines focused on toning and shaping your bottom. Boxed set.
All That Matters
What is stress, how can we understand it, and how can we strip away the myths that surround it? Here a leading health psychologist presents a concise and accessible introduction to stress, explaining what produces it, why people vary in their response to stress, its short- and long-term effects, its relation to physiological illness and its flipside – the relaxation response. Part of the All That Matters series.
1809 to Salamanca
Following the winter retreat to Corunna in 1809, Wellington's crack rifle regiment (Sharpe's famous 'green jackets') fought the French back and forth across the Iberian Peninsula taking part in a number of actions, including the River Côa, Bussaco Ridge, Fuentes de Oñoro, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz. Shot on location in Spain and Portugal, this documentary tells the story of the regiment up to the key battle at Salamanca in July 1812. 1 DVD 105mins
The Atlas of Military History
An Around-the-World Survey of Warfare Through the Ages
From Ancient Egypt to the war in Afghanistan, and from the horse and chariot to nuclear weapons, this well-illustrated reference work charts the significant conflicts in world history and the major advances in military technology. It is arranged chronologically within each of seven sections: Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia, Northern and Eastern Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas. Slightly off-mint.
English Gypsy Language
Word-Book of the Romany
In addition to a dictionary of English Romany words, this book includes chapters on Gypsy names, fortune-telling, the London 'Gypsyries' in Wandsworth, Notting Hill and Friars' Mount, folk hero Ryley Bosvil and a collection of Gypsy songs. George Borrow (1803- 1881) was a great traveller and translator, whose works included novels, travel writing and pioneering translations of Romany.
Made in the Ice Age
This Pelmanism-style memory game features 24 pairs of picture cards from the popular film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift in which Scrat, the sabre-toothed squirrel, sets off a cataclysmic storm that casts the characters out to sea. The colourful cards feature the loveable gang from the movie, including Manny, Diego and Sid, as well as the pirates Captain Gutt, Flynn and Squint. Age 4+
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the classic German combat plane of the Second World War. A worthy adversary of the Spitfire, it is familiar to those of a certain age in part because of the Airfix models that were such a popular toy in the 1960s and 1970s. The picture in this 1,000-piece jigsaw is Roy Cross's famous artwork for the Airfix kit of the German fighter.
Thomas and Friends
Paint by Numbers
Since his first appearance in 1946, Thomas the Tank Engine has become a firm family favourite and conquered the world of TV and film. This set features two picture frames, seven engines and seven backgrounds to paint using the colours and brush provided, though scissors and adult supervision are required. Age 4+
Collins Easy Learning: Complete French
Grammar + Verbs + Vocabulary
Part of the bestselling Easy Learning series, this is a complete reference for those learning French, alone or in classes. It combines three books: a guide to French grammar, with thousands of useful examples and a glossary of grammatical terms; a guide to verbs with 120 verb tables and examples of how verbs are used in context; and a vocabulary of over 5,000 words and phrases, arranged by topic.
The Essential Edgar Allan Poe
Stories. Poems. Biography
Although stories such as The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue have remained popular to this day, Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) felt that his vocation was poetry. This collection includes both stories and poems, plus a biography of Poe. The works are unabridged and read by Kerry Shale, William Roberts and John Chancer.
The Golden Notebook
Set in London in the late 1950s, this novel by the Nobel laureate Doris Lessing (1919–2013) describes the challenges of life in the aftermath of war. It follows the psychological turmoil of Anna, a novelist and a single mother – as Lessing was – struggling to cope as her personal life and political certainties collapse around her. The Golden Notebook (1962) is read here by Juliet Stevenson. Unabridged.
The Knowledge: Opera
In a concise introduction to opera, from its history to synopses of the most popular works, Dennis Marks (1948–2015), the former General Director of English National Opera, explains ‘what gives this strange activity the power to inspire the novice and obsess the enthusiast’. Slightly off-mint.
Infographic Guide to Sports
Serena Williams may be all conquering in women's tennis but as one of the colourful graphics in this book points out, she has not yet managed to surpass Monica Seles in the volume of her grunting. This entertaining volume presents 80 amusing artworks analysing aspects of different sports, from a diagrammatic plan of the Ali shuffle to the 35 designs of Olympic torch between Berlin 1936 and Sochi 2012.
How to Sound Cultured
Covering the cultural figures you feel you ought to know about, but don't – Sappho, Talleyrand, JK Galbraith etc – this book concisely describes the achievements of 250 people whose names are frequently dropped in intellectual discourse. Arranged by attribute, under headings such as Hermits, Stinkers and Militant Atheists, this is an informative guide to the peaks and troughs (such as mistaking Rimbaud for Rambo) of clever conversation.
The Illustrated Book of Shakespeare's Verse
This collection of Shakespeare's poetry on the theme of love includes sonnets and extracts from the plays and long poems and is divided into four chapters: on first love; expressions of adoration and commitment; on sorrow and yearning; and reflections on the nature of love. The poems are accompanied by art works that echo their sentiment or mood, including paintings by artists such as Alma-Tadema, Frederick Leighton and John William Waterhouse.
National Birds of the World
From Angola's Red-Crested Turaco to Zimbabwe's African Fish-Eagle, more than 90 avian species have been adopted as official symbols of national identity. Each bird is pictured and described in this comprehensive guide, which features data such as size, diet and habitat alongside an explanation of reasons for the bird's use as a national emblem, information on its conservation status and examples of its prevalence in the stamps, coats of arms and wider culture of its country. Foreword by Chris Packham.
The Hard Fought Road to the East
German Grenadier and Tank Divisions
A series of victories and advances for the German Army in Europe in the first years of the Second World War were eventually halted in Russia – the struggle for Stalingrad being arguably the pivotal moment. This documentary shows original archive film of various units of the Wehrmacht throughout the conflict with commentary focused on the German experience of the war. Running time: approx 60 minutes.
The Red Baron
The True Story of Manfred von Richthofen
Manfred von Richthofen was the leading ace of the First World War and helped to develop effective new aerial combat tactics while leading his Jagdgeschwader 1 fighter unit. This documentary includes original wartime footage, a revealing assessment of the controversial circumstances of his death and bonus galleries of archive photographs.
The German Wehrmacht
Armoured Fighting Vehicles and Tank Defence
The German Wehrmacht series of DVDs uses archive film, private film clips and detailed English voice overs to look in detail at German armoured forces, tank and infantry units and examines their involvement in various theatres of the Second World War. Among the topics covered in this film are the development of the tank and the wartime experience of armoured units on the Western and Eastern fronts, including Operation Barbarossa. One DVD; running time approx 60 min.
The German Wehrmacht: Main Front Lines on the Eastern Front
Main Front Lines on the Eastern Front
The German Wehrmacht series of DVDs uses archive film, private film clips and detailed English voice overs to look in detail at German armoured forces, tank and infantry units and examines their involvement in various theatres of the Second World War. Beginning with a chapter on the origins of the Wehrmacht, this film deals mainly with tank warfare in the East, but also with Cossack associations and maritime distress and transport squadrons of the Luftwaffe. One DVD; running time approx 60 min.
The German Wehrmacht
Winter War on the Northern and Eastern Front
The German Wehrmacht series of DVDs uses archive film, private film clips and detailed English voice overs to look in detail at German armoured forces, tank and infantry units and examines their involvement in various theatres of the Second World War. Along with chapters on combat missions and conditions on the Northern, Eastern and Western fronts, this film covers topics including Stalingrad, North Africa, air combat and motorcycle troop missions. One DVD; running time approx 60 minutes.
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.
The Climax of an Empire
The Pac Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris's accessible and entertaining narrative history of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. A snapshot of the Empire at the Diamond Jubilee, this second volume looks at what it comprised – from adventurers and politicians to communications and infrastructure – but also examines the jumble of ideologies within it and how they affected its 370 million people. Read by Roy McMillan. Unabridged.
The Radio Times
101 Classic Covers
First published in 1923, the Radio Times sold 11 million copies a week at its peak. Over the years it has commissioned the finest illustrators and photographers to create its covers, which together can serve as a visual history of national culture. This set of postcards includes designs from the radio age to covers featuring Daleks, royal weddings and other popular events, programmes and personalities up to the present day.