Books · Jottings · Witterings

Christmas Present Ideas?

Rather than three individual posts to talk about these books, I thought I would sweep them up into one post. My reason, because they are the sort of books you buy for folk at Christmas. I have read,looked, dipped in and out of, chuckled about all three of these books but they do not count towards my number of books read in 2012.

First up is a book which was on my Christmas list and then it came on offer for the small sum of 20 pence on Amazon Kindle and I am afraid, that the Scrooge in me, the accountant in me and the impatience in me meant I struck it off my list and bought it myself – reading it straight away!

1,227 Facts to Blow Your Socks Off as I write this post is still available for 20 pence. It does what it says on the tin as they say, and a must for all fans of the programme or those people who like to gather silly bits of knowledge to throw in at quiet moments during dinner parties. Allow me to share some of the ones that made me chuckle – try and spot the irony as well!

  • George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein had their shoes hand-made by the same Italian cobbler.
  • In 1894, The Times estimated that by 1950 London would be nine feet deep in horse manure.
  • When eating jelly babies, nearly eight out of ten people bite off the heads first. (Jo – Now there is an interesting Christmas Game for the family)
  • If all the British Empire’s dead of the First World War were to march four abreast down Whitehall, it would take them almost four days and nights to pass the Cenotaph.
  • When John Hetherington ventured out in public wearing the first top hat, it was considered so shocking that children screamed, women fainted and a small boy broke his arm in the chaos. (Jo – one can only assume he was wearing JUST the top hat and nothing else to garner this reaction).
  • King Edward VII insisted on weighing his guests to make sure they had eaten well. (Jo – mmm weight watchers in reverse perhaps?)
  • At least 109 journeys between adjacent London Tube stations are quicker to walk.

The last little QI fact there leads me nicely on to the next book that I want to recommend.

Great for again those who like little bits of knowledge and also perhaps those people from distant shores that perhaps never visit London in their lifetime or only visit once. This book fills you in on all them interesting ‘well I never’! Again I am going to share a few with you so you get the idea of the book. I bought it when it came up on the Kindle Daily Deal having never seen or heard of it or the author before. There is a sister companion, by the same author The Little Book of the London Underground which I could be tempted by!

  • …a sentence of hanging carried out on Henry Fauntleroy. An estimated 100,000 people thronged the streets to see the banker die after being convicted of attempting to defraud the Bank of England of £250,000 (in 1824). Money he squandered, which seemed somehow to make the offence worse. (Jo – not much has changed with bankers, MPs, etc in all this time!)
  • Distinctive blue lamps were installed outside police stations in 1861 in order to identify them to the public. The one at Bow Street, however, was left white in order not to offend the sensibilities of Queen Victoria when she was visiting the opera opposite. (It was thought too tactless a reminder that Prince Albert had dies in the Blue Room at Windsor Castle) (Jo – bet no one had dared ask her though, just made the assumption)
  • Deliberately targeted on a point on the M1, and with an operating range of around 30 miles, the main guns on HMS Belfast would destroy Scratchwood Services if they were ever fired.

And if you ever get bored with all this knowledge, perhaps you might feel the need for some colouring in. Colouring for Grown Ups: the Adult Activity Book is pitched as “the joy of children’s’ colouring-in meets the mind-numbing realities of adult responsibility. How many of us doodle in meetings or when talking on the phone. This book just takes it to a new level.  This will make a book for someone you really find difficult to buy for! I know which of my friends will be getting it – and I might even buy some new felt tip pens to go with it!

For sharing with this book, here are a couple of example pages. Thanks to the book’s website for letting everyone in on the experience.


Of course you could always buy all three of these books for yourself – I won’t tell!

2 thoughts on “Christmas Present Ideas?

  1. I really enjoyed reading this (not to imply that reading your blog is normally a dull experience, of course). I have a penchant for trivia of the QI variety, although I have mixed feelings about the TV show, since it can often be, in my sometimes rather stuffy opinion, too crude and/or immature. That said, I did enjoy your comment regarding the top hat chap.

    As for Queen Victoria and the blue light, whilst you are probably right that they acted on an assumption, it was probably a safe assumption to make. Her enduring devotion to her late husband was very intense. The Rexfactor podcast recently informed me that, when he was nearing his own death, Lord Beaconsfield, who as Benjamin Disraeli had been one of Victoria’s Prime Ministers, turned down a visit from the monarch because he feared she would want to give him a message to pass on to Albert.

  2. The QI book sounds interesting and you can’t really go wrong for 20p, can you? Your comments on the top hat and Edward VII facts made me laugh!

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