To mark the recent 'A' level results, the Guardian put together a quiz on "Exams in literature". It might be worth taking the test just to see the comments on your own results. I scored a poor 3 out of 10 and got this: "Oh, my! And we made it so easy to try and boost our results. I'm off to write a strongly worded editorial for the Daily Mail about declining standards." Don't you just love the way these newspapers take a bite at one another when they can? What comments might you get with a 7 out of 10, I wonder?
Also in the Guardian, Johnny Dee takes his pick of the despicable one star reviews on Amazon. But sometimes you can't go wrong with the 5 star reviews either, here's one I found for Henry Porter's The Dying Light from someone called Pure Class (I kid you not): "Intelligent, topical and litterate. Porter delivers a veritable feast with a plot that is ripped from tomorrow's headldines. This is definitely one to be savoured and read over a couple of sittings. The characters are so rich they jump off the page - I was truly sad to finish it. If you enjoy the best of Deighton and Le Carre. This one is for you. Pure class!" A copy of the OED should be his/her next purchase. I've never known something as rich as foie gras to jump off the page either.
Having written about a book on the Dutch earlier this year - The Undutchables - I was intrigued to read of this debate in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper about whether the Dutch are simply direct or just plain rude. If you can't stomach all the comments, do scroll to the bottom for the currently last comment, no. 69, and its last paragraph on a bicycle confrontation on Rokin in Amsterdam. Such belligerence and determination! I do hope that in any wars the Dutch are always on our side. I'll let the Dutch debate the rest on their culture.
After all those home make-over shows that predominated on the TV stations about 7 or so years ago, you probably thought you had it sussed by now. MDF is medium density fibreboard (a grade of chipboard), right? Well think again for the noughties. MDF is now "My Daddy's Famous" according to the Daily Telegraph and refers to the offspring of the already famous who believe they have a right to inherit their parents' fame. The DT unfortunately seems to focus on the female persuasion and their eagerness to use modelling as one stepping stone in a limited spectrum of supposed talent. Also unfortunately, for her, the article kicks off with a report on Chloe Madeley who was apparently arrested on a drink driving charge last week after her overturned car was discovered. Many others are mentioned (you won't have to think too hard to anticipate them), but Keith Allen's offspring missed the boat on this occasion. Too busy in Cannes or somewhere similar, I'd guess.