Confronted by the realities of adulthood, Romesh Ranganathan must face an uncomfortable truth: this is not quite how he imagined it.
Watching his friends descend into middle age, his waistline thicken and his finances dwindle to fund his family’s middle class aspirations, Romesh reflects on the demands of daily life and the challenges of adulting in the modern world.
As he reluctantly concludes that he is indeed a grown man, Rom wrestles with the greater questions that threaten his being: Could I save my family in a crisis? Do I possess the skills to assemble flatpack furniture? Am I too old for streetwear? Is it alright to parent my kids through the medium of Fortnite? Is celibacy the secret to a passionate marriage?
I pick up books for many reasona; references in other literature, a cover with books on it, blogger recommendations, and so forth but never (at least as far as I can recall) have I picked up a book because it ‘spoke to me’ and the present situation I find myself in – that being the reluctant adult bit.
Romesh Ranganathan is the reluctant adult here, supporting a family and keeping them happy, trying not to break his children, be a good role model and encourage them in their interests (as long as they are appreciated by their father, of course). It’s life, and its hard yet has plenty of scope to be funny along with it.
There was a lot in this light-hearted book that made me laugh, which is handy as the author is a stand-up comedian. Whether it’s an incisive observation or just the turn of phrase employed to convey a point. The inherent Britishness in the articulation had me laughing more than the stories themselves in most cases, and that was very much the highlight of the book for me. Continue reading “As good As It Gets – Romesh Ranganathan”
TheLambton Worm is evil, EVIL, EVIL. And all it needs to be set free is someone to perform one wicked act, just one bad deed. When young John Lambton, son of Lord Lambton, defies his father and sneaks out of the castle at dawn on a Sunday morning to go fishing, he has no idea of the evil he has setting in motion.
I read this book in primary school, not that I remembered much about its contents when starting this recently, just a recollection of a protracted fight scene. There has also been a question in my mind for years over whether I did, in fact, enjoy this book or found it plain scary.
The story is based on an old legend from County Durham, in England and dates from the 14th century, retold here for children The Lambton Worm retains the history of the story, featuring castles and also has a side story about the Crusades as well which I didn’t recall but enjoyed immensely.
The titular worm is by far the best character in the book, starting off with the thought, “Oooooh, I’m evil!”, the cartoonish nature of the beast subtly changes as it grows more powerful throughout the story. The worm is a pitiable creature but also faintly sinister, which was the main reason I think that this book always bothered me. Continue reading “The Lambton Worm – Terry Deary”
Sorting through the boxes from last year’s house move, I came across all the books that had been sent to me over the past years (more than I care to remember – the years not the books). All had of course been caring and lovingly stored and finding them has brought back some great memories.
With a misty-eyed gaze into the past I recalled many memories associated with long ago blog posts, bloggers, and life events. Of all those books, the ones my eyes looked for straight away were those of Mr Stephen Baum, AKA Bumba, who is still blogging today, and one of the few original readers of this blog, left after the almost ten years of my writing.
Bumba was the first author who ever approached me with the offer of a free book (Up in the Bronx) in exchange for an honest review. Having skim read my original review – not wanting to read deeply in case I cringed so hard I couldn’t type this – I will leave it up to any interested reader to pass verdict on its vintage, or lack thereof. All three reviews can be found in the relevant author page. Continue reading “Baum’s Books”
“A vigilante nun cleans up the streets of Los Angeles. Sinners beware.” So says the description of the first of the Force of Habit series.
James Scott Bell has written four Force of Habit tales and each one of them will have you choking on your coffee (or your Fritos.) Force of Habit
Force of Habit 2 – And Then There Were Nuns
Force of Habit 3 – Nun the Wiser
Force of Habit 4 – The Nun also Rises
Larger than life people need to have a proper introduction, and you need to know Sister Justicia Marie – or Sister J as she is affectionately known by those outside of the Benedictine Order she belongs to. Force of Habit is a book you’ll read in one sitting. I did, and promptly downloaded the rest.
Sister J is former child star Brooke Bailey — who went the way of many child…
Full Metal Cardigan is David Emery’s first book and chronicles his adventures in social care, from enthusiastic volunteer to feral frontline worker, taking in abusive popstars, chanting cults, drug runs and interviewing a corpse.
He recounts how he gained international notoriety for cheating in a pancake race, encounters with the supernatural, High Court appearances, accidentally booking someone into Dignitas, one-inch death punches in Woolworths, waterboarding, psychotic psychopaths, plunger-wielding pregnant women and suicide attempts with rhubarb along the way.
A dull profession, social care is not so on approaching a book like this my first thoughts were about the humour and how it would work in situations that deal with individuals who have so many sensitive problems. It is safe to say Emery has achieved a fine mix of both the serious and the downright funny which I devoured in a couple of sittings.
A sense of the comical is definitely needed in such high pressure work, and with responsibility comes the never-ending paperwork, training sessions, and the unexpected. The relentlessly humorous anecdotes are told with a light-hearted, amiable voice, which in itself is pretty impressive when the National Health Service is involved. For those of you who don’t know what this institution is, it’s a chronically underfunded, overstretched service staffed by people working long hours doing the best they can for the nation’s health.
The comical recollections are a delight to read but these are blended with the sad and serious cases. The emotional balance is spot on as the stories keep coming in rapid succession so the reader appreciates the sober nature of the work, whilst not feeling guilty for enjoying reading about it. That is the beauty of the book, whilst the struggles of both the workers and those needing help are always centre stage – and handled respectfully – the counter balance of the quirky and therefore human aspects clearly shine through. Continue reading “Full Metal Cardigan: Adventures on the Front Line of Social Work – David Emery”
Sorry if this is not up to the usual standard, we arrived back from a hiking trip at 4am yesterday morning and this was written then. Posts and awesome photos will soon follow.
When Bertie Wooster goes to Totleigh Towers to pour oil on the troubled waters of a lovers’ breach between Madeline Bassett and Gussie Fink-Nottle, he isn’t expecting to see Aunt Dahlia there – nor to be instructed by her to steal some silver. But purloining the antique cow creamer from under the baleful nose of Sir Watkyn Bassett is the least of Bertie’s tasks. He has to restore true love to both Madeline and Gussie and to the Revd ‘Stinker’ Pinker and Stiffy Byng – and confound the insane ambitions of would-be Dictator Roderick Spode and his Black Shorts. It’s a situation that only Jeeves can unravel. Writing at the very height of his powers, in The Code of the Woosters, P.G. Wodehouse delivers what might be the most delightfully funny book ever committed to paper.
It’s been a long time since I last picked up one of Wodehouse’s books and within a few pages, it reinforced the idea that it was a terribly long overdue decision that needed putting right. Coming across the word hornswoggle was the icing on the cake.
It was a silver cow, but when I say ‘cow’, don’t go running away with the idea of some decent, self-respecting cudster such as you may observe loading grass into itself in the nearest meadow. This was a sinister, learing, Underworld sort of animal, the kind that would spit out of the side of its mouth for two pence.
Wodehouse’s uniquely written style is just brilliant, the language is the best part of the book, which is saying a lot as the book is an exceedingly witty study in comedy. This offsets the characters, who don’t have much depth but that is fine as it is all about the elaborate plotting. The phrasing of each sentence is a delight, and raised many a smile with the whimsical nature with which it presents itself. Perhaps it is a bit stereotypical of Englishness but that is also one of the novel’s many charms.
Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.
People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.
The premise seems fairly amusing and from that alone possibly worth a decent read, although mainly I was wondering if it would be just a novelty exercise and/or fall into the poor taste trap. Books like this need to have an underlying message, something they wish to achieve and although this book had some interesting points, it was on the whole forgettable.
It will come as a relief to know that the story has no real explanation for Hitler’s predicament which is still better than the one in that stone cold classic film of the time travel genre, Hot Tub Time Machine. The story does at least move on in a pacy way without this obstacle and soon gets into its stride.
There is the standard amusement in the form of our narrator being constantly perplexed with modern life and seeing the world through his eyes is interesting up to a point, with all the big chain stores, the internet and different nationalities now inhabiting Berlin and so forth. Sadly the jokes lose their impact and quite quickly become repetitive and predictable.
Vermes does well to avoid any sympathy one may have for Hitler’s loss of wife and his closest allies which is a relief, as there is a danger in humanising the dictator so that he becomes almost a lovable old grandfather type set in his ways, which just happen to be racist and disagreeable to the modern sensibilities. Luckily all the characters are two-dimensional and although there is occasion when the story does sail close to the wind, it never becomes particularly offensive unless you are one of the new fangled PC crew that get offended by everything, which I am sure you are not. Continue reading “Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes”
Before we go any further please apply yourself to puzzling out some of the most humorous jokes you will ever come across. Ever. Answers will be provided at the end but don’t skip the rest of the post though, let the anticipation build and then feel the buzz drain away from you as the answers are revealed at the end:
On which side to most chickens have their feathers?
What goes up and wobbles?
What type of dog has no tail?
What is green and goes to a summer camp?
What’s a Grecian Urn?
After pushing back the plates of Christmas dinner, my thoughts naturally turned to blogging and it was then that I remembered a much lamented missed opportunity from last year which was to talk about Christmas crackers and the contents therein. As is tradition around these parts, the pulling of the cracker has been an integral part of Christmas since 1847 and features a wealth of goodies to delight even the most Scroogiest of Scrooges at Christmas.
Nothing beats the smell of gunpowder of a lazy Christmas Day afternoon as is attested by the thousands of crackers that go off each year. It is the ultimate family diversion, of little consequence but always strangely enjoyable and something not to be done without. Those who fork out lots of money for the so-called luxury crackers with prizes worth ‘winning’ miss the point, it’s the tackiness of the whole ordeal that is so beloved of households everywhere. For those of you not familiar with this particular treat, here’s a brief and fairly passable explanation of what it all consists of. Continue reading “Cracking Up Over Christmas”