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The Two Ronnies Annual, 1979

I’ve got a list of childhood books that I feel the need to write about, all of a sudden, in tribute to Ronnie Corbett, Paul Daniels and Victoria Wood, who have all died in...

Mark Twain on Tobacco, 1909

Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens as he was sans pen name) was about as big a fan of smoking as it’s possible to be. Starting his cigar habit at the startling age of 8,...

The Second Sleep, 1829

In the past few years I seem to have been reading more and more about the idea of “segmented sleep” – the concept of a night’s sleep being broken into first and second sleeps...

To Live a Hundred Years, 1901

In 1901, “a well-known physician” (not so well-known that he was worth naming) advised following these 19 rules if you wanted to make your century. Some of them are interestingly current – the non-dairy...

Difficult Chins, 1939

Do you have a Difficult Chin? “How could your maestro of the violin conjure such sweet music from his instrument, if the chin which caresses it so fondly, and so closely, were not well-tended...

Snakes on a Train, 1926

You know those lives that people used to have – like Boy’s Own Annuals come to life, with adventure being one of the essential criteria of their job description? The kind of people who...

Spanish Female Beauty, 1924

In Bossypants, Tina Fey, one of the world’s Very Good Things, wrote this about women’s impossible quest to be acceptably attractive. “Every girl is expected to have caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a...