Posts Tagged ‘Random amusing stuff from the internet’

Gary Bell QC’s ‘extraordinary’ and ‘riotous’ autobiography Animal QC will change your life, or at least your outlook thereupon, according to reader ‘Was’:




That’s one of the many excellent reviews the book has achieved on Amazon so far this month. ‘ladybgood’ was very taken:



As was ‘Amazon Customer’:



Jacqueline Bingham was brief and to-the-point:



Lucinda Phillips found Gary ‘a true inspiration’



Christina (actually, this is from September) found it very funny:



Finally, the inscrutable ‘Cliviscus’ (we’re grateful to him/her anyway):


People do seem to like Gary’s optimism and can-do-ness.

In other news, why you should never lend anyone your books.

Robert Louis Stevenson was arrested for throwing snowballs and invented the sleeping bag (which really ought to have made it into our book So THAT’S Why They Call It Great Britain).

The hotel that inspired Stephen King’s brilliant book The Shining is planning to open a horror museum.

Sugar-crazed ponies.

Why the International Space Station doesn’t exist and we’re all living in an episode of The Truman Show:


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In terms of eBooks, we tend to concentrate on Kindle on the basis that that’s the best place to get a return, but we’ve had people asking us why some of our titles are not available via iTunes.

So the following Theodore Dalrymple eBooks have recently been added to the Apple platform:

Life at the Bottom

Our Culture, What’s Left of It

Not With a Bang but a Whimper

In other news:

Google Books is now a thing:

On Friday, a federal circuit court made clear that Google Books is legal. A three-judge panel on the Second Circuit ruled decisively for the software giant against the Authors Guild, a professional group of published writers which had alleged Google’s scanning of library books and displaying of free “snippets” online violated its members’s copyright.

Maybe we’re missing something, but as long as Google can’t just scan books and give them away (they can’t) then this is probably a good thing? It’s just another way for people to sample your stuff – a free ad, effectively.

I am currently reading David Nobbs‘ memoir, I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today. The older of our two readers will recognise that as the catchphrase of ‘C.J.’, Reggie Perrin’s boss in the 1970s TV series which starred Leonard Rossiter and was created by Nobbs. It’s not as funny as one might expect, but I’m only a third in. His early Army experiences are very Eddy Nugent.

Picking Up The Brass_PUTB full cover jpeg ARRSENot David Nobbs, but a lad quite like him

The other half of Monday Books is currently reading Kate Morton’s The Lake House, which is ‘very good so far’. The thing that struck us both is that it arrived as a hardback, RRP £18.99, a day or two after publication, for £5.99. Astonishingly good value; how can bookshops compete?

An interesting article about the origins of the horror genre.

The Atlantic on the landscape of Gansu.

David Thompson’s brilliant Friday Ephemera series is well worth checking out (and you might bung him a few quid while you’re at it).


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Little Girl In The Radiator-AI cover v2For bookshops awaiting delivery, we’re just reprinting The Little Girl in the Radiator. There’s some exciting news about this title in the pipeline, but we’re currently sworn to secrecy.

The previous print run sold out just as the government announced its surprising new plan to pay GPs £55 for every person they diagnose with dementia.

I’m not sure what Dr Tony Copperfield would have to say about that, but I can hazard a pretty good guess… probably along the lines that he’s already diagnosing people with dementia if they have it, and that it might be better to give this money to scientists and researchers who are currently trying to find a cure?

At The Going Down Of The Sun is at the printers and will be available very soon indeed. We will be donating a percentage of profits to a suitable charity or charities. More details on this book over the next few days.


The world’s fastest manned flight: Today’s flight profile has one objective: speed. It is an attempt to set a maximum manned-flight speed record. The X-15 will be a piloted projectile blasting through a violent acceleration from 500 MPH to nearly 5,000 MPH in only 75 seconds. Six times the speed of sound. On the downside of this flight profile the X-15A-2 will decelerate so violently that a rearward-facing crash pad is installed in the canopy, in front of the pilot, so Pete Knight’s helmet can slam into something soft as the friction of the atmosphere slows the plane after its explosive fuel burns out.

The world’s loudest recorded sound: Think, for a moment, just how crazy this is. If you’re in Boston and someone tells you that they heard a sound coming from New York City, you’re probably going to give them a funny look. But Boston is a mere 200 miles from New York. What we’re talking about here is like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland. Travelling at the speed of sound (766 miles or 1,233 kilometers per hour), it takes a noise about 4 hours to cover that distance.

The world’s best lightbulb: Still burning after 112 years.

The world’s most hardcore sniper: Hathcock only removed the white feather from his hat once during his entire tour, and it was to carry out the most dangerous assignment of his military career. When asked if he would be willing to volunteer for a solo mission targeting a high-ranking NVA general, he accepted before hearing any of the details. Those details, as it would turn out, involved crawling more than 1,500 yards inch-by-inch through heavily guarded enemy jungle, painstakingly timing his incremental movements with wind rustling the grass around his hidden position.

It took Hathcock four days and three nights without sleep or food to reach a suitable shooting position. As it neared sunset, he lay completely motionless and camouflaged as a patrolling foot soldier nearly stepped on top of him as he passed by. At one point a venomous Bamboo Viper slid inches from his face, and he had to struggle to retain the presence of mind not to move and reveal his position. When the target finally exited his tent that night, Hathcock took aim, held his breath, and squeezed the trigger.

The world’s best sausage news: Belarus’s sausages are guaranteed free of loo paper (says the President).

And still no news on how Edgar Allan Poe died.




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I had an interesting discussion with the Observer‘s complaints guy the other day (see blogs passim). (As an aside, what a way to earn a living: dealing with people whingeing about stuff all day long, while knowing that your newspaper, and your job, probably won’t see out 2013.) He, in turn, had spoken to Nick Sherbert: Sherbert maintains (apparently) that he was told by ‘someone in the Home Office’ that Gadget was not an Inspector. Obviously, this person was mistaken – we’re, of course, not suggesting Herbert is a liar. The very idea.

However, he made the statement and it has the aforementioned implications for us. We’re now wondering whether or not to take matters further. Our lawyers advise us that we would not have to prove that Gadget was an inspector (or above). It would be for Herbert to prove the opposite, which he could not.

However, when you pull the pin on a grenade like this, the shrapnel can hit people other than the intended target. Could Gadget be damaged, collaterally-speaking? I’m not sure. We’re sleeping on it for a bit.

Meanwhile: what would happen if you jumped in a swimming pool full of booze?

Finally, no apologies for mentioning yet more very positive reviews of The Little Girl in the Radiator. Eight have been placed on Amazon since Christmas Eve alone, all five stars (barring one four star).

To take a couple at at random,’Yimsakin’ says, ‘This is the best book that I have ever read… I could not put this book down once I started reading it.’

Nicola Eggleton writes, ‘Very well-written book, I work in the care industry and it was fascinating to read the experiences Martin had with his mum and his struggle in understanding and coming to terms with this terrible illness.’

We still haven’t achieved the cut-through that this title deserves; it’s selling well on Amazon, and as an eBook, but I think Waterstone’s should be doing more with it. Possibly a superrmarket, too. People don’t just like it, they love it. One chap has bought nine copies.

In related news, Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Here’s one of my favourite Womack 70s tracks:

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The late Humphrey Lyttelton.

Meanwhile. Although we love eBooks in general, and Kindle in particular, one issue with this new technology is that it is forever evolving. Each iteration of the device – Kindle Fire, Kindle Touch, the forthcoming Kindle HD etc etc – requires the text to be re-uploaded and often reworked. This is very time-consuming indeed. Hence, everything being slower than normal.

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The Bookseller is predicting that 50 Shades of Grey will sell 10 million copies, which leaves just one question burning in my mind: can respectful and consensual thrashings form the basis of a new paradigm for mutually rewarding male/female relationships in an essentially patriarchal society where can I get hold of someone to write low-grade erotica about spanking? I could have a go myself, but my erotic experience is limited, especially bondage-wise (my wife, when testy, can lash out with a hairbrush or whatever else is to hand now and then, but that’s different), and my imagination is sadly lacking.

According to the brilliant Marina Hyde: ‘(M)ore British troops have been deployed for the Olympics than are serving in Afghanistan.’ They could do worse than give them all brollies and ask them to escort people around the venue.

(GQ says the Guardian might be about to shut down. I know several journalists there, all good people, and it would be a real tragedy. The press, even the Graun, is one of those things we won’t miss until it’s gone; the idea of George Osborne/Ed Balls having no-one watching them is chilling.)

Theodore Dalrymple on François Hollande’s plan to tax holiday home rental:

Most British people come to France, however, not to avoid taxes, but to avoid their fellow countrymen, especially the younger ones. In France, even the most uncouth people address you as “monsieur”, not “mate”. The burglar who broke into my mother-in-law’s flat in Paris, not expecting her to be there, withdrew with a courteous “Excusez-moi, madame”. An English burglar would have bound and gagged her.

Until next time…


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One problem with working in publishing is that it all-but destroys reading for pleasure. You spend eight hours a day either reading or editing, and the last thing you want to deal with when you get home and put your feet up is more words. Additionally, you are so attuned to either skim-reading (initial manuscripts) or quasi-proof-reading (stuff you’re actually publishing) that it’s very hard to find that middle ground, where you don’t skip half of a given page or re-read it a dozen times to see how you can reword it.

Anyway, I’ve belatedly just finished this (it was a Christmas present from my in-laws two Christmases ago) and I can heartily recommend it. (Interestingly, the author has chosen personally to respond to the one negative review on Amazon.)

On coffee breaks, meanwhile, we’re trying to understand the crisis in Europe, what it means for the UK, for publishing and for us. A weak Euro means a strong US dollar, apparently; we do now sell a reasonable quanity of books in the USA, so this might be a good thing for Monday Books. On the other hand, the US looks pretty like a basket case-in-waiting to me, stuck between wantologists and a pensions nightmare. If Greece leaves the Euro, maybe with a hybrid Nazi-Communist government, will that mean cheaper holidays for Britons (and more money to spend on reading), or will it mean the RAF airlifting people out of a burning Athens? The Euro might drop to 50% of its present value; will we all finally be able to afford the ski chalets of our dreams, or will it take the UK with it? (Can you buy shares in Bognor Regis?) If people don’t have the money to go out, will they stay in with a book instead? It’s all very confusing. In a very long list of things about economics that I don’t or can’t understand, do we actually have ‘austerity’ anyway, and how can it be ‘rejected’ by voters in Greece and France? Isn’t the opposite of austerity borrowing (and spending)? And if you reject austerity are you not going to struggle, eventually, to borrow? I’ve half a mind to announce that I’m rejecting the concept of paying my mortgage.

Inspector Gadget is leading the Tolploddle Martyrs* on a trip to London this week. I tend to support privatisation, if only because, in theory at least, incompetent firms can go bust, whereas incompetent council chiefs and MPs just increase your tax bills and end up getting to the baronetcy or the House of Lords; but privatising the police is bonkers. Read Wasting More Police Time for the reasons why, and follow this link to youtube to see what it’s really like in the custody block.

You have to chortle at The Angry Underground World of Failed Pickup Artists:

Results, apparently, would entail mass quantities of sexy women lining up to bone him and his ilk, regardless of the fact that they spend all of their time ranting and raving on a misogynistic website.

The 10 best cricket books; Mike Brearley’s Art of Captaincy should be in there, I think. Graham Gooch’s autobiography is well worth a read, too. Derek Randall’s isn’t, which is a shame as he was my boyhood hero. I also like not-Kevin Pietersen’s The Cricketer Diaries:

“WTF Belly. Where the hell is everyone?”

Finally: ‘I was a business intelligence analyst for a paperclip marketing company.’

* That is a high quality pun.

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