Publishers are tremendous copycats; and ineffectual copycats at that. Someone scores a hit with Watership Down and, for a few years, you can’t get near the children’s bookshop without wading through imitative rabbit-sagas. Someone else hits the jackpot with The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and every Christmas since, our aunts and grandmothers have been bombarded with dull picture books of ye rural life in ye olden days, or recipes for green tomato chutney written by lady novelists living in commuter-dormitories. Likewise, two clever journalists with a keen eye and a strong sense of humour delighted the nation three years ago with The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook which was the most perfect latrinal reading since the death of Stephen Potter. Needless to say, a lesser breed sprang up, hoping to cash in on the Sloane Band-Wagon (or Range-Rover), each coyer or thinner than the last. I thought we had reached rock bottom with the handbook for ‘Foodies’ (the very word is off-putting), but just to prove me wrong, a group of talentless hackettes headed by one Suzanne Lowry have sunk to even lower depths.
The success of the Sloane Ranger book,