Saturday, August 26, 2006


London Monkey Nuts

I came across The Dangerous Book for Boys in London last month -- it jumped out because there was simply nothing else quite like it in the store:

So I was delighted to see TLS, of all people, lauding it this week -- "Cloth-bound, gold embossed, reassuringly heavy, it mercilessly tugs at the heartstrings of anyone old enough to have ever read a Boy’s Own annual... They seem to be entirely serious in their quest, and with only traces of irony they have compiled a book that is packed with articles on such atavistic topics as conker fights and the manufacture of water bombs, invisible ink and the rules of cricket..."

There's no sign of a US release, and I suppose there might never be -- you'd need to be an expat or a serious Anglophile to revel in this book. But it's just the thing to go along with a viewing of Ripping Yarns, or to delight in evocative trivia:

In a book that revels in the peculiarities of the English character, my favourite section was on the phonetic alphabet. Before the standard version was established (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc) the RAF had its own version, which was thought to be more suitable for the British accent. This seems to encapsulate the aims of The Dangerous Book for Boys itself, preserving in twenty-six words a whole chapter of English social history – Ace, Beer, Charlie, Don, Edward, Freddie, George, Harry, Ink, Johnnie, King, London, Monkey, Nuts, Orange, Pip, Queen, Robert, Sugar, Toc, Uncle, Vic, William, X-ray, Yorker, Zebra.

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