Far be it that we, as humble booksellers, might manage Brexit better than the politicians, but we do feel that they are probably reading the wrong books. The three we recommend would give the negotiators an all-important understanding of the British people, a succinct history of the country and the British view on (part) of Europe. It is possible that the situation has gone beyond even these useful volumes but in that case they will provide some much-needed light relief.
HOW TO BE A BRIT: How to be an Alien, How to be Inimitable and How to be Decadent
George Mikes originally came to Britain in 1938 as a journalist on a two-week assignment but he lost his heart to the country and remained until his death in 1987. How to be an Alien was written with the serious aim of explaining the peculiarities of the British. However, the British found the book rather amusing and it has continued to entertain readers for over seventy years. The other two books in this charming collection explain what the British did when their Empire started to decline and their final adoption of decadence when all else failed. The book ends with Britain joining the EU.
‘I hate being a prophet of doom but I must speak up. When the furlong, the chain, the rod, pole and perch, the peck, the bushel and the gill are gone, Britain as an island will have disappeared and the country will have become a suburb of Brussels.’
1000 YEARS OF ANNOYING THE FRENCH
This is a slightly more balanced history than the title might have one believe. Stephen Clarke lives in Paris and clearly has great fondness for the French, even if he is also prepared to correct their misconceived views of history. This revised, expanded and updated edition explains the real meaning of the Bayeux Tapestry, simplifies the complexities of the French Revolution (in a single ‘provocative’ sentence) and analyses the importance of Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France. An invaluable if slightly irreverent history.
On William the Conqueror’s invasion of Britain: ‘As with so many things in the French version of history, this is not quite correct. Or, to be more precise, it is almost completely wrong.’
On Agincourt: ‘When the flower of French aristocracy was cut down by a bunch of lower-class British archers.’
1066 AND ALL THAT
W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman
According to Messrs. Sellar and Yeatman all one needs to remember are Two Memorable Dates and a few Good and Bad Things. Luckily for the present readers extensive research in golf-clubs, gun-rooms, public houses and at Eton and Harrow revealed that two of the original four dates were not memorable and had to be deleted from history. The story of the Revolting Pheasants, the relationship between Little Red Riding Hood and Robin Hood and the dangers of Rotten Burrows explain British history in a unique way. Written in 1930 and proudly never updated.
The following extract might help the rest of Europe understand Britain a bit better:
‘The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and vice versa).’
The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the bookshop; we couldn’t possibly comment.
To order any of these books please email (email@example.com ), telephone (020 7493 9921) or, better still, visit the shop. We are open from 9.30-8 Mondays to Saturdays and 12.30-6.30 on Sundays. We look forward to seeing you.