Hit & Run: Read all about them
Tuesday 29 September 2009
Reach for your reading glasses and lay down your cynicism – the season of the celebrity biography is upon us. For the lucrative sub-trade in "revealing portraits" and "warts'n'all memoirs", the race for Christmas riches starts on 1 October (that's Thursday) as scores of books crash into shops like a tsunami of trash.
All will tread the fine line between the bestsellers' list and the bargain bin, pitching stars who've lived a bit against those who've barely arrived. From the self-penned to the unauthorised and the ghost-written – and from the banal to the sublime – we take in seven big releases so you don't have to.
The Jonas Brothers by Sarah Parvis
Tagline: "The story of the hottest young pop band in America"
Question we most want answered: Those "purity rings" – really? Come on, what about all those groupies?
The bit we'll be skipping: The rest.
Look Back in Hunger by Jo Brand
Tagline: "One of Britain's funniest and best-loved comedians"
Question we most want answered: What's it like being Britain's only female stand-up (more or less)?
The bit we'll be skipping: Anything on why men are rubbish (so chapters 1, 3, 5, 8...)
My Life in Football by Bobby Charlton
Tagline: "A remarkable visual commentary of a phenomenal sporting life"
Question we most want answered: What kicked off the long-running feud with brother Jack?
The bit we'll be skipping: Any attempt to justify that comb-over.
I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne
Tagline: "In his highly anticipated autobiography, Ozzy comes clean: in all senses"
Question we most want answered: "Changes" with daughter Kelly on Top of the Pops – what were you thinking?
The bit we'll be skipping: The inside story on the recording of "Changes".
It's Not What You Think by Chris Evans
Tagline: "A fascinating and surprising life story from one of Britain's boldest personalities"
Question we most want answered: What have you got that Terry Wogan hasn't?
The bit we'll be skipping: "How I used to get pissed with Gazza ".
Saturday Night Peter by Peter Kay
Tagline: "The long-awaited follow up to The Sound of Laughter"
Question we most want answered: So, those accusations of plagiarism...?
The bit we'll be skipping: Any reference to Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere.
Michelle Obama by Sarah Parvis
Tagline: "An inside look at the remarkable First Lady of the United States"
Question we most want answered: How does it feel to go from breadwinner to kitchen gardens and photo ops?
The bit we'll be skipping: Any description of that first kiss over ice cream ("it tasted like chocolate"). Simon Usborne
They'll try anything to get you behind bars
When is a Kit Kat not a Kit Kat? When it's a "Kit Kat Chunky Caramel", a new chocolate bar so bastardised that it no longer resembles its forebears. It's the Sugababes of snacks. The Kit Kat Chunky Caramel is not a Kit Kat – it's a Twix. But this is what passes for progress in the chocolate world. Take a bar, modify it beyond recognition – or until it tastes like another familiar bar – and give it an unimaginative new name. Hence we have such hybrid fudges (not necessarily containing actual fudge) as the Crème Egg Twisted, the Flake Praline, or the Wispa Gold, billed as a Wispa with "a cheeky layer of caramel"; no, it's a Cadbury's Caramel with the ingredients rearranged.
Chocolate bar manufacturers have three trusty tools with which to draw new customers to an old bar: one, make it with dark chocolate (like the Mars Dark or Kit Kat Dark). Two, add caramel (or, in some cases, peanut butter, like the Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter, which is really a Snickers). Three, say that it's "limited edition".
Cadbury's strategy since 2003 has been to bring the majority of its bars under the Dairy Milk umbrella, thus removing any fusion confusion among its crossover confections. This rebranding exercise was responsible for the Caramel becoming the Dairy Milk Caramel. It has also produced the Dairy Milk Bubbly, which is in fact an Aero. One presumes you couldn't have a Dairy Milk Dark – because that would just be silly (if delicious) – but I wouldn't put it past them. Tim Walker
Have a fraction-packed time down the pub
To some, the decision to introduce a new measure in pubs of two-thirds of a pint will seem like a sensible way of expanding consumer choice and reducing alcohol-related strife. The rest of us, pausing only to note how difficult it is to pronounce the suggested abbreviation – the "twother" – is will quickly get into an addled panic that the news is only the thin end of a terrifying wedge. Because once we start asking for two thirds of a pint, where will the fractional madness end? How long until we're ordering quarter shots of vodka, or four-fifths of a bottle of wine? Those who think such speculation is groundless twaddle (or twothle) will soon owe me twelve-nineteenths in the Six- and-a-Half Bells. Archie Bland
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