The Saturday Miscellany: How to win a conker fight; Mal Peet's bookshelf; Daniel Rybakken


How to: Win a conker fight

By Oscar Quine

Theories abound on winning a conker battle. John Doyle, crowned World Conker Champion last month, gives this definitive guide to being top of the tree.

"In the championship, you pick your conker from a bag, but you can switch it if you want. Most think the bigger the better but in my opinion a small, nobbly conker is best. Larger ones have more surface area to be struck on."

"Often defence is the best form of offence. Allow your opponent to strike you: you're more likely to break your conker when striking. Seven out my eight matches ended this way – but I like to claim I wore them down."

"You can't treat your conker in any way. But some theories do the rounds: soaking in vinegar, drying in the oven, varnishing. The only rule on which everyone was in agreement was that everything seemed to work until it didn't."

Rotating column: The book chuck

By Will Dean

First they came for my DVDs, and I said nothing. Then they came for my CDs and I said nothing. Well, I whinged a bit before boxing them up and driving them to my grandma's attic, but I didn't say much. Now – due to a lack of space accentuated by the arrival of a new family member – they've come for my books.

I'd been quite happy switching my listening and viewing habits for Spotify and Netflix, but like many readers, I've retained an affection for the printed word.

Despite them taking up about 17 per cent of a tiny flat, I'd proudly cultivated a collection of tomes – most, it must be said, unread – designed to show off an expertly calibrated taste in fiction and non. Now, the readers of my local Oxfam Bookshop can indulge in those pleasures instead. Though I've kept my Adrian Moles.

First out the door: Piketty

Instant Ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. I'm going to a 'destination' wedding. Can I not get a gift given I'm spending £100s flying to their do?

A. You could ask the couple to provide a per-head costing of the event, set that figure off against your expenditure, then deduct the difference from your gift budget. Or you could just write a heartfelt message in a nice card and stop whinging.


Micro extract: Loopy

'When The Corkscrew arrived [at Alton Towers] in 1980, the first double-looper in Europe, it was so popular it caused chaos. Since then, there has been rollercoaster hyperinflation. It all got too big for small business.'

From 'Engel's England' by Matthew Engel (Profile, £20)

Four play: Dodgy disappearances

1. Lord Lucan*

2. John Stonehouse

3. Friedrich Gulda

4. Philip Sessarego

*Lucan disappears this day in 1974

All Good Things

By Charlotte Philby

Bold move

Negarin is the new eponymous label from the artist-turned-designer who trained under Donna Karan. The concept is everyday luxury, with bold prints and soft textures in Italian crease-free cloth.

Rude awakening

Celebrating 15 years in the creative industry, husband-and-wife design duo Rude have launched a book: 'Time Flies When You're Being Rude'. This is the story of an independent company from boom to bust and back again. £35;

On the up

'Compendium' is the latest offering from Daniel Rybakken, winner of Wallpaper*'s Emerging Talent award. These slim, vertical designs (above) are an investment – as the 'price on application' suggests.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments