Wednesday, 22 April 2009

That famous British humour

Just back from my yearly ‘book bath’ at Earl’s Court. Exhausted, but happy: the future of books is not in danger and the quality seems higher than usual – certainly higher than last year. Fewer rubbishy ‘comic’ stocking fillers; fewer patronising ‘lifestyle’ books; more serious fiction.

Anyway, this was next to my seat on the bus back

Pity it wasn’t rush hour yet.


  1. I bet that brought a mixture of smiling anticipation and worried frowns to commuters!

    Was the Fair as busy as last year?

  2. LOL! Good one.

    Just now reading a profile of Ian McEwan in the New Yorker, here's a little "death of fiction" tidbit which you may have already seen in the Guardian:

    Three years ago, McEwan culled the fiction library of his London town house, in Fitzroy Square. He and his younger son, Greg, handed out thirty novels in a nearby park. In an essay for the Guardian, McEwan reported that “every young woman we approached . . . was eager and grateful to take a book,” whereas the men “could not be persuaded. ‘Nah, nah. Not for me. Thanks, mate, but no.’ ” The researcher’s conclusion: “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”

  3. S, I don't think anyone else noticed it while I was there. There are so many posters, etc. on buses, I think people don't see them any longer.

    Much busier. Really buzzing.

    R, I hadn't read that essay by Ian McEwan (just found the New Yorker article reporting it). I'm not at all surprised by the conclusion to the experiment: there is no doubt that women make up the bulk of fiction readers. Yesterday, I went to a seminar entitled 'Writers of Tomorrow': there were mostly women in the audience. And, of course, publishing houses are staffed by a majority of women.

    Just stunned by the mention of a 'townhouse in Fitzroy Square'. Wow! That's worth millions.

  4. Thats'a a good one indeed!! LOL Only in the UK! (here it would probably bring on some Med heavy flirting insinuations...)

    Do women read more for men in general? Perhaps. The real question is what exactly they're reading, though. I can't be too optimistic in a word of chic-lit :/

  5. H, London Transport does have a sense of humour (and passengers need to have one too - especially on the Tube - in order not to explode with anger and frustration on most journeys), but it doesn't go that far: those notices are, of course, fake - left here and there on the network by cute jokers.

    Tube drivers can sometimes be very funny. I've heard hilarious announcements over the years. You can google some great ones. Here are a few (which I haven't unfortunately heard myself):

    "Your delay this evening is caused by the line controller suffering from backside and elbow syndrome, not knowing one from the other. I'll let you know any further information as soon as I'm given any."

    "Let the passengers off the train FIRST!" (Pause...) "Oh go on then, stuff yourselves in like sardines, see if I care...."

    "Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors."

    "To the gentleman wearing the long grey coat trying to get on the second carriage - what part of 'stand clear of the doors' don't you understand?"

    All the statistics indicate that women do read more than men. And there have always been books specifically meant for them (I used to work for Harlequin/Mills & Boon so...). There have also always been women who dislike those kinds of books. If this year's London Book Fair is anything to go by, there are reasons to be optimistic.

  6. I once feared that books would disappear and with them the good old-fashioned bookstore. I love a good bookstore. A store with good books and at least one shop cat.

  7. 'Lap-sitting': a new exciting entertainment for tired commuters.

  8. I found your blog from a comment you left on mine and I'm SO happy to have found it!! This sticker is a gem. Too bad no one sat on your lap.

  9. There are fish on your blog! How long have they been there?

  10. So nice to see you, TLP! Most of the small, private bookshops have disappeared here, unfortunately. Amazon's fault, no doubt. No shop cats either. :-(

    'Lap-sitting'? Hmm... maybe not, Brian.

    Thank you very much, Melissapher! It wasn't my lucky day, obviously.

    Oh, are there, L? They must have realised the cat wasn't about (my Flickr badge doesn't seem to be working any longer) and decided it was safe to swim around here now.

  11. Do you get to pick the person to sit in your lap, or is it always the overweight gentleman with poor personal hygene?

  12. Bound to be the latter, innit?

    Nice of you to stop by, btw. :-)


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