What’s the point of beautiful books?

Beautiful books — IMHO — are more likely to be read. Which could well be a brill thing if the book is a good’un.

I’ve long appreciated the Penguin series, Clothbound Classics. The Snufferjog bought us Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray which was beautifully produced, and the footnotes added interest. That whetted the appetite.

A few years down the line, my Father-in-Law generously gave me a bit of dosh for Xmas, so I decided to treat myself to another.

But which one to buy!?

I’d noticed that this series were numbered, (our Dorian was number ten, por ejemplo). So I began my internet hunt for which book was number one in the series, a task you might think was very easy, but oh no. No reference on any Penguin affiliated website of any sort of enumeration.

Hope came in the form of Google Image Search which showed me a wealthy woman’s full collection. In numerical order. And the first in the series is… Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.

“Didn’t do it in school so ‘aven’t ‘eard of it.”

Well, uninitiated. It’s French. That’s all you need to know.

I bought it and I read it. That’s an achievement. (This was an English translation, so not that much of an achievement).

One minor issue though, the edition I bought was not numbered, so there was no real reason to buy that particular book. Oh well.

But I’m hooked anyway. So what to buy next is the question?

Well, let’s stick with the French theme he says, buy a book written around the same period he says. And by the following Thursday Les Miserables is on my doormat.

Wow. 1,231 pages… ABRIDGED.

So that’s that phase over. Although I did see that next month, Augustine’s Confessions is being released in the series. A two birds one stone killing asking to be made if ever I saw one, I’m only studying ruddy theology. So that’s getting pre-ordered. Maybe.


One more thing. I feel I need to explain to the ethereal head-shrinker why I have a desire in the first place to buy the number one in a series of somethings.

It all began in Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Disney Store, 1994. I’ve got some Christmas money to spend (sounds familiar) and I’m keen to get me a VHS of Sing-Along-Songs, fronted by the inimitable Jiminy Cricket. The one I wanted to get was the one with Peter Pan on the front because I liked the one with Peter Pan on the front. But Dad jumps in.

“Heyheyheyheyheyhey, don’t be so rash there son. Think about it. What you’re gonna wanna do is get Volume One and work your way up to Peter Pan which is Volume Seven. Think about it.”

“But Volume One has Bagheera on the front and he’s got more tough love than my four year old brain can handle”

“You’re getting volume one.”

“Um… okay.”


And from that day forth, I was PROGRAMMED to seek-out the first in the series of stuff.

Right, I’m off back to my Hugo. Only 1,147 pages to go!

Sainsbury’s Get Involved in this Mince Pie War to End all Mince Pie Wars (It’ll be over by Christmas)

I hereby present Sainsbury’s with the award for best looking pie. Very dainty details. Good job everyone involved.

As for the taste? Not that memorable. But not as bad as Marks and Sparks. Obviously.

How do M&S fare in the battle of mince pies?

These Marks and Sparks mince pies are a bit of a let down to be honest. They say all-butter on them, but that isn’t very evident from the taste. The recommended time they have to put them in the oven is too long, so the mincemeat was too hot. They look alright, with a simple incision in the top to give that old-school look, but I think that’s what leads them to let all the heat in an burn my tongue. Sibyl said too much mincemeat too. Oh dear Marks and Sparks.

What burns our thighs, wets your butt and strikes fear into their children?

Slides in kids parks / playgrounds were a hit and miss affair. In the summer they were too hot to go down, burn the back of your bare thighs. Rainy days obviously make them off-limits, many a wet butt was experienced. But the right conditions could make them especially enjoyable.

Sometimes they took the risk factor a bit too far with those slides in yer Wacky Warehouse type zones where there was a literal vertical drop pre-slide, which added significant velocity, but the fear, oh the fear before making the plunge. Always worth it though, especially with the ball-pool ecstasy which it was followed by.

What are the latest developments on my mince pie tasting endeavours?

Good news first. I’ve found my favourite so far. Waitrose strikes back. These little all butter ones. Pack of twelve. Amazing pastry. My Mama-in-law bought me those.

Before those I was bought other really posh fully organic ones! They were great for a home-made taste.

Then there was the other end of the spectrum, the most commercially lucrative cake company out there… Mr. Kipling of course. Why he stopped writing the Jungle Books I don’t know, those ones aren’t really recommended, bog-standard, tasty, nice pictures on it them too, of two turtle doves too.

Why are the London Underground Pro-Life?

Even Kate’s Got One!

I saw a woman today as I was strolling my son to Sainsbury’s and she looked at me merrily and I wondered whether there was a particular reason and my question was answered by a badge she was wearing. Have you seen them? Expectant Mothers who may not be visibly pregnant are given these badges so that people will give up their seats for them. What do the badges say? ‘Baby On Board’ of course! Yes, Transport for London are clearly of the opinion that a woman carrying an unborn child — no matter how for along — is carrying a BABY. The badge does not say ‘foetus on board’ or ‘potential offspring on board’. What a lovely smile she gave me.