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Annus Horribilis: A Chronicle of Comic Mishaps by Sam Jordison

Buy Annus Horribilis: A Chronicle of Comic Mishaps by Sam Jordison at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Entertainment
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Well over 365 ways to be thankful, as mishaps of years past are told in a very readable style. One of the season's better stocking-fillers that the Bookbag recommends.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: November 2007
Publisher: John Murray
ISBN: 978-0719524707

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You know you are having a bad day when you go to a tattooists' to have a huge emblem of your favourite football team emblazoned on your back, only to find later that the artist was a fan of a rival team and so left you with an indelible huge willy instead.

You know you could have been a bit more sensible when you go to visit a friend in jail, not only carrying cocaine and a gun, but in the same clink where you have arranged for a friend to do your current term there in your place. (This is not the same prison as where the inmates used the trampoline they were gifted to boing their way over the walls - where the governor had realised something rum was happening when the prisoners requested tunnelling gear "for a play they were doing about miners".)

You know the gods of irony are looking ill upon you when you campaign for decades for your village to have a bypass, partly at least on safety grounds, only to suffer a car crash while previewing the incomplete road.

I could go on, spoiling this very fine and funny book for you by retelling my personal highlights. I loved the Tory whip who thought he was giving a colleague a ticking off, and ended up booting the Belgian ambassador in the derriere and knocking him down the Commons stairs. I sympathise with the chap who hid under his ex-wife's bed to vengefully record her with a new man, only to get a repeat face full of bed-spring before the lover called an ambulance for him. And I am still trying to work out how Burt Reynolds signed his name in wet concrete, and got it wrong.

There is no mistaking this is a bit of a stocking-filler, but one well worth considering for dipping into at any time of the year. Indeed it is styled like a year-book of mishaps, with some for every day of the year. (The cover artist was having an off-day when he announced 365 stories herein - so many days have two or three there must be more like five hundred.) The more poignant famous last words are also included.

Cynics would suggest there is a lot here that is just an urban myth. Well, I beg to differ. Sure, one or two never get located anywhere, and one alleges the involvement of a two ton wild boar, but on the whole the research seems to have been thorough.

As with any such novelty book the style of writing must be friendly - the editorialising amenable. And so it is here, although the individualistic style the author used, say, in his review of his own book on Amazon, is given a back-seat to just a straight, slightly dry telling. April 3rd is probably the strongest example of this.

I did cringe when the second story in the introduction was *that one* about the chap who attached helium balloons to a deck-chair and ended up in a major flight-path, but there is so much material here that was new to me, and not recycled from The Darwin Awards, You Couldn't Make it Up, Another Bad Year and all the other precedents. It reaches from a few years ago (Coca-Cola and Dasani) to times past (Arnold Bennett having his own problems with water) and much beyond, even to antiquity. And it has a great topicality and freshness too, with the most recent entry from 2007 dated April 26th.

I am guessing that February 29th's entry will be bonus material for next season's paperback reissue, and I hope the several typos are fixed by then (Sept 9th is just once when the dates don't tally, and what's with "disturbing the piece" in November?) but until then this is a complete and very amusing collection of reasons to be cheerful.

The definition of a good year? One in which you get this sent to you from the author - thanks very much to Sam Jordison who annotated his copy to all at the Bookbag. Please note this had no bearing on our recommendation and star rating. We're not as daft as the people in this lovely novelty.

Booklists.jpg Annus Horribilis: A Chronicle of Comic Mishaps by Sam Jordison is in the Top Ten Books For Your Boyfriend.

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