Sam “Remember the Alamo!” Houston – who used to be an American Indian, according to the Childcraft Encyclopedia.
I think the sequence of my favourite books may have gone something like this…
The Biography volume of the Childcraft Encyclopedia (or was it Cyclopedia?) – the obscure pasts of famous Americans.
Followed by Ulster, A Sunday Times Insight Investigation – oh look, they’re writing about us.
For a while it was… The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I found it in an odd place. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘.”
Then it was… Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis – happy endings, but don’t read while hung over: “He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.”
It is (and has been for a while)… A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor – robust and exquisite. (And I want part 3 for Christmas.)
But the best books I’ve read lately are The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I was late getting to both of them. Both arrestingly good. (Never mind the reviews to which I’ve linked.)
But if I really really have to choose one, from the very very many I value and return to, it would be Continue reading
It's a snail, made from horse dung - a Dung Snail. Only $8 from the Dung Bunnies website - I kid you not. Well, Susan Bell had the poop courtesy of her horses and an urge to sculpt. She also does bunnies (natch), frogs, cats, pigeons, ducks and... wait for it... wedding couples. Just the thing for newly weds.
“They call me horse dung – because I’m never off the road.” That’s what I’m grateful for – people making me laugh. Like Emma at Adventures of an Unfit Mother with her tale of “The Miracle of the Keys”. I recommend a visit.
Here’s another laugh meister – Rudy and his odd drinking habits in Italy – or is he the only sane person in a country of crazies? He discovered that the Sards “preferred their alcohol to look like water and taste like paraffin.”
And then he foolishly tried a very strange drink in Verona (you’ll have to visit his Gullible’s Travels blog to find out what it was) but it led to a surreal experience:
Apart from the bars, the only other places that seem to be open at night are bookshops. This gives a whole new way of describing drunkenness. While a hangover morning may normally begin with the realisation that there are more limbs in the bed than you actually own followed by a reconstruction of the night before based on the stamp mark on your wrist, things would be different in Verona.
You’d wake up feeling like you were wearing an internal balaclava and then your arm would drop down the side of the bed. Slowly your fingers caress some stiff paper and it slowly dawns on you what had happened the night before. You hand traces the outline of what turns out to be a book and your worst fears are confirmed. You realise that last night you’d got absolutely Dan Brown-ed on Aperol.
I love the way that ends. But I can’t stop at just two recommendations. These things always come in threes. And the third one is a cracker.
The Idiot – aka Mark – tells the story of his first week in kindergarten. It starts all cutesy wutsey aww luvvy duvvy and turns into a race riot. But a very funny one. I’d tell you who I blame for it, but you might get the wrong idea. Better to just read the story over at The Idiot. Really. You should. It’s hilarious.
And finally – here’s a good short video. I wouldn’t normally post an ad – but this is very clever. What would you do if you found yourself in the circumstances depicted?
So Continue reading