with Tilly Wrestleman
"Ten Ways to Dance with Joy" by Laura Pundle
It was Mrs Pundle who gave us "The World is a Joy Boat" in 1987. She returns 20 years later with this "guide for those in sadness and signpost to the light". Are you "in despair of your attainments"? Do you long for "pure bliss of getting the things you want"? Let Mrs Pundle show you how to "unwrap those delightful parcels of happy (sic) that we hold within our hearts, though we don't know that we so hold them". Read about Arthur, so miserable as a shoe salesman in Halifax, who discovered the difference between "living for life" and "life for living". Discover how Meggie was able to leave behind her job in a meat-processing factory and find fulfilment in a home for retired Admirals. Dare you "encapture (sic) your own very rapture?" Go ahead, as long as I am far away.
"Uncommon Habitments" by Ferdy Lantopp
Mr Lantopp has written 35 books but this is the first to be published. It is difficult to know how the world has managed without this "compendium of unusual attires", but I suppose we have struggled through somehow. Struggle no more, world, for here is the ultimate guide to outre wardrobes. Here we can visit the worlds of Jean Carder, who wears nothing but moleskin, Alicia Vermeer, who goes naked at home and imagines herself "clad in the purest gossamer spun by faery fingers", and, last but not least, Harold Pileskin, whose shirts are all made from old naval flags ("I never wash these materials, preferring to feel the harshness of the salty airs and picture myself riding the tall masts"). I must not mention Mr Gazal and his sealskin buttoned breeches, Lady Nadia Blackspoon's lambswool "coven gloves", nor can I take you to the Norfolk home of the Welkin brothers, "valetudinarian octogenarian twins", who clothe themselves as senators from the reign of Augustus. One can only take so much excitement.
The Little Book of Matches by Jim Twolion
Mr Twolion has not attempted a history of the match, nor does he present us with a directory. What he means to offer us is "a sample of the poetry to be found in matchboxes and books of lucifers". Here are "Eldred's Thirty", with the picture of a goose on the back. There we espy "Blackstock & Bluestock's Bundle o' 50", with its quotations from the Bible. And we can also enjoy the "Bonny Grinning Burning Yellow Baby Boy" on the box of Yarlgram's Tinder Sticks, though "enjoy" is hardly the word. I had nightmares.
A Life in Blancmanges by Giles Opitus
Towering and trembling before us. Heaped, tremulous and twitching. Pale and glistening and mysterious. But enough of Giles Opitus. The man is a dangerous lunatic. He is not even a genuine blancmange-maker, contenting himself with "bringing forth sweetest subtle memories of Mama's shimmering, shivering Sunday puds". He fancies himself a "Proust for milk desserts", no less. Chapter after chapter of sweet moulded hueless mounds I can just about stomach. What finished me was the epilogue, in which our hero "can only imagine the possibilities with savoury blancmanges". "Hare and Mole Miscellany" anyone? Another sliver of shining "Eel and Minnow Mound"? And what can we make of the spectre of a calf's head, complete with tongue, teeth and jaw, grinning at our guests from the midst of an innocent milk pudding? Broadmoor awaits.
They Also Threatened:
(life's far too short)
"New Soups from Old" by Hilton Parke
"Wide Awake on Queer Street" by Ninian Filbert
"Alpacas at Dawn" by Ursula Whetstone
"The Case of the Budgerigar, the Obelisk and the Embalmed Admiral" by Dirk Nampeter
"Pargeting for Beginners" by Howard Limbo
"How To Make Friends with Freshwater Fish" by Guinevere Miltworth