How to Remove Stains

No questions asked

Have you spilt blueberry juice on your antimacassar?  Honey on your briefcase?  De-icer on your cat?  Fear not – the solution to all your stain related woes lie herein.  If you can knock if over, spray it, or drip it from anything, onto anything, then it’s probably covered in here.  Let’s pick a couple of random examples:  what about melted rubber from a hot water bottle?  Easy, says page 51. Hold an absorbent pad below the mark and rub with liquid lighter fuel.  Launder as usual”.   How about a rain spot on a calf leather coat?  “Why, just wipe with a clean cloth and allow to dry naturally.”

It strikes me that one of the main audiences for this book must be serial killers, who very quickly turn to page 25 – the blood page.  Carpet?   “Flush out fresh stains with a squirt from a soda syphon”.  Here the book warns that “Professional cleaning may be necessary to remove dried stains”.  But you won’t want to do that in case they get suspicious, right? –  “Another nosebleed Mr Ripper?”  It also advises that blood stains on upholstery should be treated with an ammonia solution – although it doesn’t specify whether you can use the same ammonia solution which is currently dissolving your latest victim in the bath.  Other blood stains will require washing or dry cleaning – over and over and over again…

This book almost made me want to spray the contents of my kitchen and bathroom all over the flat just to test out all the various solutions.  I could have invited some friends round for a  ‘Stain Party’, where various stains are first created, and then – if there’s time – removed.  Almost, but not quite.  I decided to look up wee and poo instead…it seemed like the right thing to do.

The Drinking Man’s Diet

Brilliant book.  Old diet books can often be depressing, especially second hand ones with teeth marks in the margins and doodles of cupcakes in every blank space.  They’re often accompanied in the bags of donations we get by books about sumptuous French cuisine and Port, with the owner offering both up to charity presumably in order to give up food altogether.

This was a corker – clearly the author had neatly cornered the market in middle aged men who were willing to try anything – absolutely  anything –  to lose weight, as long as it wouldn’t interfere with their drinking.  The author offers early reassurance on the inside cover:

“Did you ever hear of a diet that was fun to follow? A diet which would let you have two martinis before lunch, a thick steak generously spread with Sauce Bearnaise,[…] A diet which allows you to take your favourite girl for a dinner of pheasant and broccoli, with Hollandaise Sauce and Chateau Lafite, to be followed by an evening of rapture and champagne?”  Ding dong!

You can almost hear the conversation in the London club which surely inspired the author:

Gentleman 1: “No thirds for me thanks chap – I’m trying to shed a few pounds”.

Gentleman 2: “Dangerous business this dieting, old bean.  Hope you’re not going to let it put you off the sauce.  Knew a chap once who started trying to ease back – stopped having a second martini at lunch, that sort of thing.  He wasted away to nothing in a matter of weeks.”

Gentleman 1: “How ghastly.  No, I certainly won’t let it affect my drinking.  Trouble is, how does a man about town such as myself set about getting into shape without compromising on rapture and champagne.”

Gentleman 2: “I don’t know George, but just remember – you are a Drinking Man, first and foremost”.

Perhaps there are a series – “The Smoking Man’s Workout”; “The Gambling Man’s Savings”?

So Five Minutes Ago

Just one more big sale and that Quattro is mine!

These old books about business are great.  All offices should have to have an enlarged version of this cover on the wall; a sage reminder that we cannot escape our times, and that all of our technology, our clothes, our haircuts and our jokes will soon look about as cool and desirable as hepatitis.

I mean just look at that hair.  And dude – a pink phone?  Was this an interim measure before society accepted homosexuality?”  Well I still think what they do is disgusting, but I do have a pink phone.”

This cover caught my eye because of the expression of the guy standing up.  Clearly smug-arse Mergers and Acquisitions man Jenkins has just called his boss to boast about how massive his quarterly output is.  Look at him unfolding that old computer paper like a giant phallus on the desk.  Trouble is, there’s a problem.  Secretly gay boss in the grey suit is lifting up his glasses in abject horror – having spotted that Jenkins has gone and forgotten to build in the costs associated with opening the Reading office.  The twat.   Jenkins isn’t going to be getting that remote controlled garage now is he?

The title’s a bit interesting too – sort of patronising and presumptuous at the same time,  as though there were thousands of law firms out there but none of them had yet struck upon the idea of maximising their profits.  Perhaps they had discussions at the Bar Association about it –  “Who’s this wildcat – isn’t the satisfaction of winning a case enough for him?”;  “I know, hell – I didn’t become a lawyer to make money!”

I wonder if there are other titles in the same series – “Maximising the Desirability of your Wife”?; “Maximising the Intactness of your Limbs”; “Maximising the Impact of Gravity on Your Possessions”?

I did look for the bit inside that said: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the profits…” but there wasn’t one.  Shame.

Odd Books: Barlow’s Tables of Cubes


Notes:  You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn a lot about yourself.  The squares, cubes, square roots, cube roots and reciprocals of every whole number between 1 and 12,500.    Oh the hours, the many long hours Mr Barlow must have spent diligently making sure all those decimal points were in the right places.  I wonder if made up his mind from the outset to go all the way to 12,500, or if it just sort of happened.  I reckon his wife probably nagged him to stop at 10,000,  and he did the last 2,500 just to annoy her.   A good job he did too; Barlow’s work was considered so accurate that it was reprinted numerous times since its authorship in 1801.  It’s probably just as well he never lived to see the invention of the calculator:  “Hey Peter, you know that project you’ve devoted your life’s work to…”.

As books go it’s now about as relevant as a copy of “The Millennium Bug – What Your Company Needs to Know”, so I’m not sure it’ll ever make the journey out of the stockroom onto the shelves.  But by golly, if an electro-magnetic pulse attack destroys all the world’s microchips and the only way to save humanity is to find the cube root of 11,302 – Barlow’s your man.