Teenage Flicks, compiled by Paul Willetts

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The Independent Culture

In the years BC (Before Computers) of the 1970s and '80s, the football game Subbuteo was played by more than 30 million people. Digital dexterity was the order of the day even then; one world champion, Andrea Piccaluga, had his flicking finger insured for £150,000.

This engaging little volume of reminiscences from one-time devotees who have since made their mark in other fields is a reminder of just how powerful its appeal once was. "It was surprisingly realistic," recalls the novelist Will Self, while Des Lynam remembers a set as being "one of the most exciting presents I ever received". The comedian Arthur Smith thinks "the actual game was useless", but admits to enjoying setting it up. It also made its mark on football proper: as Graham Taylor and Stan Bowles explain, a number of managers used sets for tactical talks.

The reigning Subbuteo World Cup champion is from England; maybe a copy of 'Teenage Flicks' in their Christmas stockings would remind Terry and Co to pull their fingers out for the real thing in South Africa 2010.

Published in small-format hardback by Dexter Haven, £6.99

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