They Call Me Naughty Lola by David Rose (Writer of Humour)

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They Call Me Naughty Lola by David Rose

Category: Humour
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A collection of adverts from The London Review of Books Lonely Hearts column will leave you spluttering with laughter. It's a book to dip into rather than read cover-to-cover but there's something for everyone and it would make a good present.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: November 2006
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1861978294

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I wasn't certain that a book of personal ads from people wanting to find the love of their lives - or the next few months - was going to be amusing reading. Lonely Hearts columns have always smacked of sadness and desperation to me, so I was rather surprised to hear my husband howling with laughter. I'd left They Call Me Naughty Lola on the coffee table and he'd picked it up, and started flicking through it. "Just listen to this," he said:

I'd like to dedicate this advert to my mother (difficult cow, 65) who is responsible for me still being single at 36. Man. 36. Single. Held at home by years of subtle emotional abuse and at least 19 fake heart attacks. Box no 6207.

An advertiser has only seconds to grab the attention of a reader as they flick their eyes down the column. If you haven't done that within the first few words, then you might as well not bother writing the rest. The erudite advertisers in The London Review of Books Lonely Hearts column have obviously learned this lesson well - just about every advert will have you sobbing with laughter.

Most Lonely Hearts columns that I've seen before (idly glanced at, I hasten to add, rather than perused) have concentrated on the inevitable sense of humour and film star good looks. I've always thought that they could only breed disappointment if reader and advertiser ever met. Not so the advertisers in LRB. They know exactly where their priorities lie:

List your ten favourite albums... I just want to know if there's anything worth keeping when we finally break up. Practical, forward thinking man, 35.

They're not over-burdened with positive thoughts and the book is full of gentle, self-deprecating humour. I did wonder if their problems could have been solved by bringing them all together in a pub one Friday evening. This could, of course, mean that the column would die a natural death and is therefore probably not to be contemplated. I suspected that some advertisers were doing so for the fun of it, but that didn't make what they said any less funny. There are serial advertisers too, with individual styles being easy to spot.

The column began back in 1998 and the more cynical advertisers have obviously realised how to tug the heart-strings of a potential partner:

Romance is dead. So is my mother. Man, 42, inherited wealth. Box no 7652.

Over the years mothers have come into the adverts rather a lot (problems with, lack of and even apologies to them) along with quite a few foibles and phobias. One advertiser lists five favourite books - all about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You couldn't say you weren't warned. Medication, both legal and illegal, features regularly too, with some advertisers requiring details of medication being taken before a first meeting is arranged.

The advertising director of the LRB, David Rose, has done a wonderful job of compiling this book and writing the introduction. There's something that will appeal to every sense of humour and footnotes to explain some of the more (or less) obscure references in the adverts. There's even an index with some erudite entries. Every sexual preference seems to be catered for too: the 'Naughty Lola' of the title is a forty-six-year-old, beardy, male physicist.

It's not a book to sit down and read cover-to-cover. The weight of other people's needs would prove depressing despite being couched in humour. It's a book to dip into, but not in the dentist's waiting room: the laughter and tears could well be interpreted as hysteria. It's an ideal book to pop into a pocket or handbag and read when you have a few (preferably private) moments to fill. It's also a lovely present. Don't buy it in the hope of finding your perfect partner, though, as the adverts are not current and there's no way of responding to them.

My thanks to the publishers for sending this book.

If this book appeals to you, you might also enjoy The End of the Question Mark by AQA 63336.

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Zoë said:

This sounds quite, quite brilliant, and reminds me of a Pyschology investigation one of my friends once did about the different ways men and women describe themselves in personal ads. I think someone should do something similar on internet dating tag lines ("willing to lie about how me met", that kind of thing).