Category > Humour

I Lick My Cheese and Other Notes

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I Lick My Cheese and Other Notes: From the Frontline of Flatsharing, Oonagh O'Hagan, book reviewWe Brits are famously bad at confronting people and notorious for pussy-footing around a problem rather than coming straight to the point and telling people they’re annoying us. For many people the idea of looking someone in the eye and telling them “Your behaviour is unacceptable” is about as likely as wrapping themselves in bacon and wrestling with a lion. But resentments build up, tempers get frayed and then your average Brit does something drastic – gets out the Post-it note and leaves a strongly worded reprimand. And if you’re looking for something that’s guaranteed to wind up the most mild-mannered of passive Brit, then look no further than flat sharing. As the author tells us “It’s not for the fainthearted”.

I was a student for a very long time – eight years in total. I wasn’t thick, I just got a lot of qualifications and along the way I lived with some mostly very nice but occasionally really irritating people. OK, let’s be more direct – MEN. Did I ever resort to the post it note?


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Indian Takeaway

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Indian Takeaway: A Very British Story by Hardeep Singh Kohli, book reviewI first became aware of Hardeep Singh Kohli though the Channel 4 television series ‘Meet the Magoons’ which was set in a Glaswegian curry house and starred a bunch of great British Asian comic actors. These included his brother Sanjeev Kohli (the writer of the equally fabulous radio 4 comedy ‘Fags, Mags and Bags’), the guy who plays the postman in East Enders and the father from The Kumars at No. 42. I thought the series was hilarious and I loved the weirdly eccentric turban-wearing kilted Kohli. Unfortunately it seems that only I, my husband and another three viewers who were probably Kohli relatives thought it was funny and the show was pulled after just one series. I never have been good at finding humour where others look for it.

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Simon’s Cat – Beyond the Fence

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Simon's Cat: Beyond the Fence By Simon Tofield, book reviewSimon’s Cat is one of the biggest internet phenomena of recent years. For the unitiated, it was created by Simon Tofield, and is a cartoon of simple line drawings about a cat and his owner, Simon. We never learn the cats name, but we see his antics as he demands food, wants let in and out of the house, steals chairs, and gets up to all sorts with his hedgehog pal in the garden.

In 2009 Simon’s Cat had his very own book. In 2010, he has his second book – Beyond the Fence. There is an ongoing story through the book, as Simon’s Cat leaves home in a sulk (Simon stupidly tries to give him a bath) and heads off into the big world beyond the garden fence.


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Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll

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Sex & Bowls & Rock and Roll: How I Swapped My Rock Dreams for Village Greens By Alex Marsh, book reviewYou could write down what I know about bowls on the back of a postage stamp and still have plenty of space left over. But I learned lots from Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll. I learned that Alex Marshall is a world famous bowls champ and that Alex Marsh the writer of this book isn’t.

It’s perhaps harder to put your finger on what Alex Marsh is though – second-rate village bowls team stalwart, amateur chicken fancier, builder of bookcases with Scooby Doo-style hidden chambers, and a man who thinks that claiming he’s on a sabbatical sounds better than being a house husband. And he’s a lousy house husband as his LTLP (now I assume that’s Long Term Life Partner though he never really explains it) keeps reminding him.


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364 Days of Tedium: Or What Santa Gets Up To On His Days Off

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364 Days of Tedium: or What Santa Gets Up to on His Days Off By Dave Cornmell, book review364 Days of Tedium: Or What Santa Gets Up To On His Days Off by Dave Cornmell is a cartoon book covering what it says in the title – what does Santa do for those 364 days when he’s not busy delivering presents to good girls and boys around the world?

I wasn’t exactly expecting a cutesy book, I expected it would be an adult cartoon book, but having not really paid attention to the fact that the cover picture was of Santa passed out and covered in vomit with an empty bottle beside him, I was slightly taken aback by the first few pages of cartoons.

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An Idiot Abroad

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An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington By Karl Pilkington, By Ricky Gervais, By Stephen Merchant, book reviewI find travel writing irresistible. The best travel books inspire me and the worst give me plenty of material for writing damning reviews about just how awful they are. I was pretty sure that ‘An Idiot Abroad’ was going to fall into the second category but having finished it, I’m still not sure. It surprised me in ways I wasn’t expecting at all.

It was pitched as a humorous account of a naïve traveller’s trip to see the Seven Wonders of the World. It sounded like an idea with potential but what I hadn’t counted on was the involvement of two unstintingly irritating and annoying celebrities in what might otherwise have been an interesting project.

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The Clumsiest People in Europe

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The Clumsiest People in Europe: A Bad-tempered Guide to the World  By (author) Favell Lee Mortimer, By (author) Todd PruzanThanks heavens for Mrs Favell Lee Mortimer for, without the things that today make the world an easier place to know, she managed to tell the people of the mid nineteenth century all they needed to know about life as it is lived in all four corners of the world. Over three volumes, Mrs Mortimer provided a succinct, if blunt, guide to the peoples of Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas and Africa. Those three volumes have been condensed into the single book reviewed here.

She starts with Europe asking first “What is the character of the English?”

“They are not very pleasant company because they do not like strangers, nor taking much trouble…They are often in low spirits, and are apt to grumble, and to wish they were richer than they are, and to speak against the rulers of the land. Yet they might be the happiest people in the world; for there is no country in which there are so many bibles.”

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Family Planning

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Introducing the Ahujas

Family Planning By Karan MahajanIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that a 16-year old with a crush on a girl on the school bus, must be in want of a less embarrassing family.

In the case of Arjun, his family is so personally embarrassing to him that not even his best friends know that in addition to the 6 siblings he admits to (the ones he can’t deny since they go to his school) there are another 6 making up the total brood at home. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, his mother’s about to add another to the collection. Arjun’s father Rakesh Ahuja is a politician – the Minister for Urban Development – and he has two great passions; his lust for pregnant women which leads him to keep his wife almost permanently in a state of pregnancy and lactation and his determination to improve the city infrastructure for which he is responsible by building lots of flyovers.

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Batting on the Bosphorus

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Batting on the Bosphorus: A Skoda-powered Cricket Tour Through Eastern Europe by Angus BellWhat I know about the game of cricket could easily be written on the back of a postage stamp. I do know however, that a cricket commentator once said” The batsman’s Holding, the bowler’s Willy” which I consider (almost) side-splittingly funny. “Batting on the Bosphorus’’ is not quite so funny but it did make me chuckle quietly to myself on plenty of occasions. It’s an account of the summer the young Scotsman travelled the eastern reaches of Europe meeting cricket teams in the most unlikely of settings in the continued hope of scoring his first “international century”.

The premise is that the cricket-mad Bell visited a medium who made several predictions which in combination with a chance thought (the words “Ukraine” and “cricket” popped into his mind) inspired him to surf the net and find out whether his beloved sport was played in eastern Europe. After several months spent e-mailing contacts from Minsk to Istanbul, and working in a methadone programme centre to raise some funds, Bell set off on his adventure.

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French for Cats

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French for Cats: All the French Your Cat Will Ever Need (Hardback) By (author) Barbe Henri De La, By (author) BoswelIf you are thinking of house-sitting in France this summer and are worried that you won’t be able to communicate with your hosts’ cat, then this is just the book for you. When the cat says meow, is it trying to say, “Here comes a fur ball,” or “I did not break that vase”? All will be revealed in Henry Beard’s mini bilingual book of catspeak. With English phrases given first followed by French translations in italics and accompanied by illuminating illustrations, each page gives us a rare insight into the inner workings of a feline brain.

We are first introduced to The Major Cat Parts (of the body), and these are followed by The Basic Cat Wardrobe consisting of a bell, flea and tick collar, and name tag.

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