Books of the Year #1

December 12, 2008 at 10:51 pm (beer, Champagne Charlie, comedy, literature, trivia, whiskey, whisky, wine)

Our leading writers make their selections from around the world:


The combination of classical learning, lavish book production and  a hint of scholarly controversy makes Il papiro di Artemidoro (LED: Editizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto), edited by  Claudio Gallazzi, Barbel Kramer and Salvatore Settis, one of the the most important books of the century so far. On the other hand, if you want practical guidance on  piss artistry, try this:

Especially useful (and I recommend this to my colleague Mr Priest, a notorious tightwad when it comes to buying a round), is the section entitled “The Mean Sod’s Guide (incorporating The Mean Slag’s Guide)“. To give you a flavour:

The point here is not simply to stint your guests on quality and quantity – any fool can pre-pour Moroccan red into burgundy bottles, or behave as if all knowledge of the existance of drink has been suddenly excised from his brain at 10 p.m – but to screw them while seeming, at any rate to their wives, to have done them rather well. Note the limitation: your ideal objective is a quarrel on the way home between husband and wife, he disparaging your hospitality, she saying you were very sweet and thoughtful and he is just a frustrated drunk…

“(#8): Your own drinks. These must obviously not be allowed to fall below any kind of accustomed level, however cruel the deprivations you force on your guests. You will naturally refresh yourself with periodic nips in your pantry, but going thither at all often may make undesirable shags think, even say, that you ought to be bringing thence a drink for them. So either choose between a darkly tinted glass (“an old friend of mine in Venice gave it me – apparently it’s rather valuable, ha ha ha“)  and a silver cup of some sort (“actually it’s my christening-mug from TS Eliot – believe it or not, ha ha ha”) which you stick inseperably to  and can undetectably fill with neat whisky…”

As for hangovers, Kingers provides the following sound advice:

* If your wife or other partner is beside you, and (of course) is willing, perform the sexual act as vigorously as you can. The exercise will do you good and – on the assumption that you enjoy sex – you will feel toned up emotionally, thus delivering a hit-and-run raid on your metaphysical hangover (M.H.) before you formally declare war on it.

“Warnings. (i) If you are in bed with somebody you should not be in bed with, and have in the least degree a bad conscience about this, abstain. Guilt and shame are prominent constituents of the M.H., and will certainly be sharpened by indulgence on such an occassion.

“(ii) For the same generic reason, do not take the matter into your own hands if you wake by yourself.”

Not everyone likes this book (eg John Crace), but then you can’t please ’em all. can you? I enjoyed it (despite Amis’s disrespect for my own favourite tipple), and laughed out loud at parts. Published by Bloomsbury at £9.99.


  1. Will said,

  2. KB Player said,

    Of course Amis did write the best description of the first waking moments of a hangover in Lucky Jim:-

    “Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the 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. He felt bad.”

  3. Jim Denham said,

    Absolutely brilliant.

  4. KB Player said,

    You can absolutely imagine it, can’t you? The power of prose, bringing the most far-fetched and unknown experiences to life. You really empathise with him.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Eh… “far-fetched and unknown experiences”…I presume you’re being witty, yes?

  6. KB Player said,

    I presume you’re being witty, yes?

    Trying to be, and evidently failing if I have to say yes, I was being ironic.


  7. Jim Denham said,

    OK. Just making sure, Comrade.

  8. voltairespriest said,

    Hit him, KB. 😀

  9. KB Player said,

    Sorry I shouted, Jim. I hope I didn’t hurt your head too much, in its present fragile state.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: