The Hitchhiker's Guide to Books

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Books


Children's books, Vogon poetry, dictionaries, ghost-writing, and choose-your-own adventures.

[00:00:00] Mark: This is Beware of the Leopard episode, 211. Books.

[00:00:22] I'm Mark Steadman. And I wrote the book on self-referential podcast intros.

[00:00:27] Jon B: I'm Jon bands and there's more to life than books, you know, but not much more,

[00:00:31] Jon H: I'm Jon Hickman. And if I've got a book in me, I'm hoping it's a pamphlet, cuz that's gonna hurt on the way out.

[00:00:37] Danny: And I'm Danny Smith and I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying person that said that is actually, uh, Woody Allen who happened to achieve immortality by being a massive nonce.

[00:00:50] Mark: No

[00:00:50] Jon B: he's only quite a small nonce.

[00:00:53] Jon H: Oh, Oh no.

[00:00:54] Danny: His nonciness is massive.

[00:00:56] Mark: Right. Well, with, with that bombshell, welcome to Beware of the Leopard, the back pages of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If you've not heard our earlier episodes, uh, we're a, we've got a whole back catalog of 60 some odd episodes, uh, where we talk about the entirety of Douglas Adams' universe. Now, uh, having done all of that, we test ourselves to write our own entries. Why? Because the algorithm is hungry, ever starving for more content. And we are just the gentleman to feed it.

[00:01:28] Danny. Um, what's the last book you ate?

[00:01:31] Danny: Um, I recently tried to read a book by, um, Stephen Knight about, uh, the Freemasons. And it was like this huge expose of the Freemasons written in the eighties. Uh, and it is largely fictional.

[00:01:47] Jon B: My chemistry teacher at school had been a Freemason and he'd fallen out with them. And he, he used to, uh, enliven up, um, chemistry. By telling you the secrets of free masonry, like how to do the handshakes and things like that.

[00:02:02] Danny: and today we're gonna make, uh, lead to gold. We've known how to do it for ages.

[00:02:07] Jon H: it would've been good if it was your CDT teacher, you know, teaching get getting his plum line out and his, uh, and his set square.

[00:02:14] Mark: I like the idea that there's, there's maths teachers that have got sort of free masonry skills. Like they can actually tell you what the square root of minus one is instead of what mathematicians actually do we just call it i.

[00:02:25] Jon B: Well, it's complex. The answer is complex. I'm afraid the, um, little math

[00:02:30] Mark: but yeah, there's maybe there's special Freemason numbers

[00:02:32] Jon H: Well, they're, they're they're into the magic ratio stuff that Danny was just alluding to all the Dan Brown.

[00:02:36] Danny: I worked with someone and their dad happened to be like a quite high ranking member of the police. There was like a special task force in the late sixties, early seventies to crack down on LSD in Britain. And he was like quite high up on that. Like, so he is like quite a well known police officer. But, uh, they have, they have like a Valentine's ball where the women can invite men, I think it is. And I got invited cuz I knew this girl. And I, I went to the free masonry place. And um, it was incredibly do like, I, I like that's the real secret freemasonry. they, they, their mid-level businessman tugging each other's hands behind closed doors.

[00:03:19] Jon B: I, I mean, we talked about the last book I read because I wanted to, or the last book I read, because I've just finished, um, Drago, the Fire Safety Dragon, a small book given free by the Oxfordshire Fire Service to teach, uh, well, small dragons. I can, I understand how to cross the road.

[00:03:39] Mark: There's a lot. There's a lot going in there. Road safety and fire safety.

[00:03:42] Danny: fire and again, a bit previous, expanding into road safety, aren't they?

[00:03:46] Mark: Yeah. stay in your lane.

[00:03:47] Jon B: It's also got a sort of sticker on the back of it, which says, uh, Drago says don't play with matches or lighters.

[00:03:53] Mark: it's solid advice.

[00:03:54] Danny: For a dragon.

[00:03:55] Jon B: He's no Wellephant. You wouldn't think a dragon would be the, uh, the, go to fictional creature to be the fire services. Um, mascot of choice.

[00:04:05] Jon H: Well that's like the original firefighters were also the people lighting the fires, so

[00:04:10] Mark: Is that, is that, is that true? Jon? Did you just make that up.

[00:04:12] Jon H: yeah. Yeah. That's, that's, that's a thing from the Roman empire that you basically paid, uh, insurance against fire to the, the firefighting people. And if you didn't pay it, then they wouldn't come put you fire out.

[00:04:25] Mark: Hey. Oh, nice city you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it.

[00:04:29] Danny: Are you thinking those, are you thinking about the other group of Italians, the mob?

[00:04:33] Jon B: Well, it now it's definitely true that in, um, in sort of, particularly in sort of, uh, early, um, United States city, you had to pay a subscription to the fire service and they put basically a plaque on your house. They'd saved that that'd only saved the ones that got their fire service's plaque on them if they started to burn. And basically sort of like municipal fire services evolved because they realized that if you don't put the fire out on the one next door, it has bad consequences

[00:05:02] Jon H: but Jonathan that's socialism and that's bad.

[00:05:05] Mark: Thank you, John, for making the joke that I was. Yeah.

[00:05:08] Danny: We are terrible. We are terrible.

[00:05:10] Mark: Yeah. we don't, we don't deserve this planet. We don't deserve to be the apex species. No,

[00:05:16] Jon H: yeah. Talking of everything being on fire. Yeah.

[00:05:19] Mark: what book, if you could burn any book, what book would you burn?

[00:05:22] Jon B: Farenheit 451. No, no, no, actually I really hope that

[00:05:26] Jon H: Oh, there's the thing that, there's the thing isn't there where you're supposed to burn your textbooks at the end of the school.

[00:05:30] Mark: Mm-hmm

[00:05:31] Jon H: Did anyone get involved in that

[00:05:32] Mark: Yeah. I think I did that at the end of it might have been, it must have been a levels. Yeah. It must have been a levels.

[00:05:38] Jon H: Because you couldn't buy matches when you were, when you were 16 at U

[00:05:40] Mark: Exactly.

[00:05:41] Jon H: Yeah.

[00:05:41] Danny: you know, when the there'd be like a Christian group that come over and do an assembly every so often, and there's a teacher at the back telling you to take it seriously, even though they're weird and like, like you really not take it seriously. And they give you, you give you all a free Bible at the end? We, we lit them on fire on the first, first play time we got in the middle of the playground.

[00:06:00] Mark: I mean that, paper's very thin, you know, it's,

[00:06:03] Jon B: no, I've still, I've still got mine. It's uh, it, it looks sits on the shelf next to Mao's Little Red Book. Same size, very similar cover looks very Netflix. Very nice.

[00:06:12] Jon H: These are the ones with like the red plastic cover. Yeah.

[00:06:14] So Danny, did the Freemasons try and sign you up that night? Because I, I get the impression if you go in, it's like an MLM thing and, and

[00:06:20] Danny: It's a pretty exclusive club mate. And

[00:06:22] Mark: mm it's the whole thing with balls with white balls and black

[00:06:25] Danny: They did do a weird thing, but like they did a series of speeches and I get the impression that there were some heavily coded words in the speeches.

[00:06:33] Mark: Ooh.

[00:06:33] Danny: So they were making one speech, but also making another that we didn't know about. And then, um, they kind of sat in the corners of the room and they always like, they stamped the floor into triangle triangle to like finish a sentence.

[00:06:46] Jon H: Stamp the floor in a

[00:06:47] Danny: and there was a secret room of mystery that I wasn't allowed to go in.

[00:06:50] Jon H: Aw.

[00:06:51] Danny: Why are kids always obsessed? with my secret room of mystery? Uh, which I stuck my head in. It was just a checkup board floor. And

[00:06:58] Mark: So stumping the floor to agree. Is that like how, like with beat poetry, you do that?

[00:07:03] Danny: I think it was more of like, uh, and, and, and this pack is sealed and then it was the stamp at the front and then stamp at the left and the stamp in the like, like thing.

[00:07:11] Jon H: So have we we've all read From Hell, right? So that's, that's an interesting book about freemasonry.

[00:07:16] Jon B: I've I've seen, Yeah, I've seen the film.

[00:07:18] Jon H: It's a, it's a fantastic piece of work. Each chapter has its own set of footnotes and the footnotes will take you longer, and it it's, it's a bit like when you do Shakespeare at school and you've gotta have like the York notes alongside it to understand what you've just read. But it's very rewarding to do it. And it UN it unravels a lot of, um, interesting things about London and history and, and yeah about freemasonry as well.

[00:07:41] Danny: And at the end, he does say like, all of this is kind of like a, a like absolute bollocks and not true. Like this, this theory is clearly not true, but I've chosen to do it just cuz it's the most interesting one,

[00:07:51] Jon H: Yeah, exactly. So he, he shows all the workings out and then says, yeah, you could put whatever workings out you wanted into this computer and it would spit out an answer.

[00:07:59] Danny: Unlike one of my best Christmas presents to do with Jack the Ripper, uh, that Jon and Libby actually bought me for Christmas. They bought me the book. Uh, so you know, the guy that wrote Withnail and I? So he got commissioned to write a book about Jack the ripper. And then five years later, the publisher said, where's this book we gave you all the money for? And he was like, I'm still writing it. And apparently he became like obsessed. And it, like, there was a huge amount of time that passed. The publisher, dropped him. He found another publisher. And the book is like a doorstep. It is the size of, like, one of my first PCs. It is a massive researched tome, putting forward a theory that is clearly the workings of somebody that lost their mind halfway through. it's, it's more interesting as an examination of this guy and his thinking processes rather than, like, an actual theory that holds up to any, any sort of standard of, of critical thinking. And I ripped through this book cause I was fas, it was absolutely fascinating. Like the amount of research that, that this guy has done and he obviously lost his shit like halfway through

[00:09:13] Jon H: I mean, I think, um, it sounds like, it sounds like the, the, the best example of what is kind of interesting about that sort of ripper stuff is it, it is more about the rightly process than it is almost about the thing anymore. Cause you can't work out what happened.

[00:09:28] Jon B: When Dan was mentioned the, um, the book about the tree masons and like Dan brown type stuff, I was just thinking, I would never read a book, like, like particularly like Dan brown stuff, I've got absolutely zero interest in all this medieval malarkey. Then I realized that I will absolutely read any book that purports to have a new theory about who Robin hood really was and I've, and I've read hundreds of them, including one that says he's one of the Knights. And, uh,

[00:09:57] Jon H: Wow. That is basically a Dan brown book. Well done.

[00:10:00] Danny: In other media I will consume a TV program that I know is bad and enjoy it in its badness. I will listen to music that is not bad on a judgment call because it's pop music and there's associations with young girls. And obviously young girls ha don't have any say, so haha. This music is bad. But music that is kind of like badly recorded or, or not great or off, off the wall or like I will listen to bad music and get some enjoyment from it. Have you ever read a book so bad that you've enjoyed?

[00:10:32] Jon B: I really like reading novelization of TV sitcoms. So, yes.

[00:10:37] Jon H: Of course you

[00:10:38] Danny: Yes you do.

[00:10:39] Jon H: Of course you did.

[00:10:41] Mark: Jon says surprising no-one.

[00:10:43] Jon B: They're often written by really quite good writers, like just to, to make the, make their money. So there's a guy called Paul Ableman who wrote some apparently really quite weird esoteric shit about witchcraft. That was his passion project, but he also turned out the novelization of the first series of Hi-de-Hi, for example.

[00:11:04] Danny: The book that I encourage you all to read for badness' sake is a book called Digital Fortress. It's by Dan Brown. And it is spectacularly wrong on every time mentions computers, which the book is almost exclusively about. Like this guy hasn't even read the Wikipedia article on cybersecurity and he's having to go anyway. And it is like you all the way through you go. Nope, no. He goes into massive detail about worms, but then kind of like forgets to mention that they're a virus like that. They're self replicating, like code in the computer and you get the impression that it's actual worms for like at least two chapters before you're like, if you didn't know anything about computers after two chapters, you'd be like, oh, it's a, okay. Yeah, no, it's it's bits of computer language, like right. They haven't actually put worms in. Like, I, I encourage you to read it cuz it is just hilarious how wrong he gets everything and how bad the action is.

[00:12:12] Jon B: And so having worked in the publishing industry, it was a, a huge thing where, um, sort of scales dropped from your eyes in the sense that I used to believe things that were in books. And then, you know, when you, you write them or, or publish them, you are acutely aware that the people who make them know absolutely nothing. And particularly in the day, in the days before Wikipedia, what did authors used to do to research? Well, the answer is they didn't, they just made it up knowing that no one else could look it up either.

[00:12:44] Mark: Oh, your bond, your bond fellow was a big fan of that. Like he just made stuff up like homosexuals can't whistle or it's something like that. They, he just, he just, made stuff up like that.

[00:12:55] Jon B: that's, why they have little, dogs that can't run away.

[00:12:57] Danny: They can't swim and they mess about.

[00:12:59] Jon B: How does the, I mean, I don't, I I've never read one nor seen any of the films, but how would that, um, work into a spy pot?

[00:13:08] Danny: I read, um, Live and Let Die, and it, was spectacularly racist, like wow. Like, like that racist, like, you don't want the book in your house in case somebody kind of like knows how racist it is and they go, hang on. We both know that that book's super racist and you're keeping it in your bedroom, like in a little shrine, is it? No, it's on the bookshelf. Yeah. Little shrine, little racist shrine, you racist.

[00:13:30] Jon B: Can I do my in Fleming joke at this point?

[00:13:32] Mark: Please. Uh, everyone buckle up.

[00:13:35] Jon B: Lads, do you like Ian Fleming? I don't know. I've never Ian Flemmed

[00:13:39] Danny: Also obligatory laugh. Oh, Mark's not giving you nothing. He's not even giving you the, the obligatory laughing.

[00:13:50] Jon B: it's it's very similar to my Rudyard Kipling joke.

[00:13:53] Mark: So Jon Bounds, you wrote something about kids books, did you not?

[00:14:00] Jon B: Yeah, I did a not, uh, Drago the Dino either. Um, so I've, I've, I've investigated the, children's the, what you might call the lucrative children's book market a lot. recently, and I don't think this is from an entry from the guide. I think it might be from this sort of, uh, about the publisher section at the end.

[00:14:21] Emma: After Galactipiedia took over the subethernet, traditional publishing, struggled to keep its editors in the manner to which they were accustomed. Some even had to move out of the manor and turn it into a spa and hotel. Fourth editor of Hitchhiker's Guide Lig Lury Jr. did some quick research on his lunch break and decided the plan was to pivot into the lucrative children's book market. Existing media properties moving into books to take advantage of their notoriety and provide easy sales was the model and children's books were short light and had great longevity as children were unlikely to transport themselves forward in time to watch the film version.

[00:15:04] Titles such as The Leopard, the Witch and the Filing Cabinet, Five Go Mad in Zero Gravity, and the series of books featuring a magical boy with two heads, Zarry Bebblebrotter.

[00:15:22] Mark: I'm saying that we're getting lazy with our names anymore. No,

[00:15:28] Jon B: No, that's that? That's deliberate labs. That's deliberate.

[00:15:32] Jon H: I don't get it. What's reference to.

[00:15:34] Mark: It's no Jonbeepboop Spacenamebounds

[00:15:35] Danny: Jonbeepboop Spacenamebounds was my finest hour.

[00:15:42] Jon B: Deliberate. It's

[00:15:44] Mark: That's what makes it worse job? That's what makes it worse? It's when you're trying

[00:15:48] Emma: Lig's pivot failed and copies of Junior Dodo Publications' work now provide the foundations of buildings on many of the less well governed planets in the galaxy. Particularly poorly selling were James and the Giant Breasts of Eccentrica Galumbits, We’re Going on a Wocket Hunt, and The Bugblatter Beast to Tea.

[00:16:11] What Lig failed to realize is that the best way to produce a best selling children's book? Author is not to find someone who's written a children's book and make them famous, but to find someone already famous and get them to at least pretend to write a children's book.

[00:16:27] InfiniDim''s junior publishing arm followed this to great effect, flooding time and altern time with single best selling copies of Trillian Astra’s book about a young fearless reporter who always looks good in ruffled clothes. And of course, Oolon Colluphid’s young adult blockbuster, Some More of Your Parents’ Greatest Mistakes.

[00:16:47] All of this meant that great children's work was left unpublished such as this piece from Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, who styled himself Dr. Puce for kids, and was reduced to story time appearances in libraries, like this.

[00:17:06] Vogurn slam. Burgl slam. Slam I gurlop. That Slam I gurlop. That Slam I gurlop. I do not fergle that Slam I gurlop.

[00:17:18] Do you slirg fungible rumpling burlop? I do not fert them, Slam gurlop. I do not slirg rumpling burlop.

[00:17:26] you fert them here or there? I would not fert them here or there. I would them anywhere.

[00:17:32] I do not fert rumpling burlop.. I do not slirg them, Slam I gurlop.

[00:17:37] RGGI spluginings in a louse? Lurgid grumblings with a spouse, Fashiwanglug in a louse. Pingoid clumpets with a spouse.

[00:17:53] I do fert here or there. I fert anywhere. Hangile nay fert rumpling burlop. Nergle fert off, Slam I gurlop.

[00:18:05] Danny: She

[00:18:06] Jon B: I there's, there's a bit of FX for you to do at the end, mark, where I want you to fade out to the tortured screams of children in a carpet area of a library.

[00:18:19] Danny: okay. That was Beware the Leopard. Thank you very much for listening.

[00:18:24] Jon H: Oh, dear.

[00:18:25] Danny: oh, you Bounds sneaking

[00:18:29] Mark: that is

[00:18:30] Jon H: he kept it quiet. Didn't he? He kept it

[00:18:32] Danny: Oh,

[00:18:32] Jon H: He,

[00:18:33] Mark: Oh.

[00:18:34] Danny: with the win Just

[00:18:36] Jon B: I really like Doctor Zeus. I think Doctor Zeus cared, um, I'm not quite sure. David Walliams cared.

[00:18:42] Jon H: Thank you. Thank you.

[00:18:43] Jon B: David Badill or Frank Lampard Jr.

[00:18:47] Jon H: There's.

[00:18:48] So this is, um, I had this in my, in my head to go into my piece and I, and I never got there, so I'm, I'm glad you've pulled this little thread cuz David Walliams, what he's managed to do is he's managed to persuade someone to position him as the Roald Dahl of a generation. And they've managed to get Quentin Blake to do the drawings, to cement him as the Roald Dahl of a generation. But he doesn't understand Roald Dahl. He's like, and this is a metaphor I use too often, but he's like the aliens in 2001 A Space Odyssey where he puts you in like a simulacrum of a room, but nothing is actually real. So the drawers don't open and the cereal isn't in the box and all that, all that stuff.

[00:19:31] So he thinks he's written a Roald Dahl book, but all he's done is write contextless things that he thinks are jokes that are gross. So he has this caring character that's the dinner lady and it's like, oh, what's for lunch today? And it's like, toenail sandwiches. Like, that you haven't earned that. You can't say that.

[00:19:49] Mark: Yeah, that's not

[00:19:49] Danny: And and Roald Dahl was vicious and disgusting, but he, like, he had a message. He had messages, like he, he had values that he was trying to infuse into, into his work. Like I know I don't like men with beards. He, he, he did have values where, whereas they Williams just says like the worst things possible. And just really cruel things like, like there's jokes, there's Antifa jokes. And there's kind of like a bully would read David Walliams work and go, ah, yeah, no.

[00:20:18] Mark: I'm the hero of this story.

[00:20:19] Jon H: He also problematically as someone who's tried to distance himself from his previous work does have, uh, uh, an Asian shopkeeper and he does do the voice in the, uh, in the audio books.

[00:20:29] Jon B: There was that story about, he'd promised a class, a copy of his new, his new book and he sent one copy

[00:20:35] Danny: oh,

[00:20:37] Jon B: that, yeah,

[00:20:38] Mark: wow.

[00:20:38] Jon B: That was on Pop Bitch, so I presume their lawyers can stand it up.

[00:20:41] Mark: So, uh, I wrote a thing about dictionaries and here is the thing. What I wrote.


[00:20:56] Emma: Belgium is the rudest word in the galaxy and is banned everywhere apart from the one place where they don't know what it means.

[00:21:07] It is a universal rite of passage that every youngling, be they a pre-pubescent bypassed or a laal bivalve, upon first encountering a dictionary will use the book, electronic device or collection of differently smelling rocks, to look up the rudest word in their Lexi.

[00:21:24] The advent of the Babel Fish dramatically reduced the size of most dictionaries, since the moment the reader utters the word allowed the definition is automatically excreted into their brains.

[00:21:34] The deeply repressed inhabitants of Basil Five were the only species not to adopt these lighter dictionaries. Any Basilites encountering embarrassment, especially if a reproductive nature would turn immediately to stone and thus die. This made the act of physical congress, more an exercise in office administration than an expression of love. Weeks of bureaucratic foreplay would proceed the proceedings, including a full physical examination with results disclosed to both parties. After all, it was concluded, the site of a male appendage is usually enough to take the hankie out of any potential panky.

[00:22:12] Still casualties are common amongst post pubescent Basilites. This has led to a common pastime amongst the famously bureaucratic Vogons, who would travel the length of the galaxy to Basil Five, locate an orgy and bet on who got hard first, Basilites stone or the bogans rubber stamping, the paperwork.

[00:22:33] The only other sentient life form known to have died from shame was one Colin Evans from Cardiganshire, Earth. The details are irrelevant to this entry, but the incident involved, a sewing machine, a personal pan pizza, a chinchilla, and four members of the Aris with male voice choir.

[00:22:53] Learning styles are ever evolving, and publishers are always keen to explore new ways of flogging a dead Arcturan megahorse. One such example, involved a modification to the Infinite Improbability Drive, allowing the curious Explorer to see and experience with all available senses, the definition of any word they care to look up. This included adverbs and conjunctions, which by dint of the Babel Fish's existence were readily and easily understood.

[00:23:22] But the project was doomed to fail. Shortly after its announcement and its ceremonial powering on, a plucky youngster from the Nether Constellation of Neep endangered herself and the entire solar system by attempting to look up the dictionary definition of the word dictionary. This created a fractal event that witnessing scientists after years of intense therapy would describe as making the Big Bang look like a wet fart. Proof again, that really, nobody likes a smartarse.


[00:23:55] Jon H: What's the rudest word you've ever looked up in a dictionary, Mark?

[00:23:59] Mark: I used to have one of those little pocket, uh, personal organizers and it had a thesaurus in it. It didn't have a dictionary.

[00:24:04] Jon H: A Psion?

[00:24:05] Mark: I can't remember it. It wouldn't have been a brand name cuz you know, uh, it would've been whatever was, uh, cheapest in the Argos catalog.

[00:24:12] Danny: I'm just a poor boy. Nobody loves me.

[00:24:15] Mark: just a poor boy with a tiny PDA and um, um,

[00:24:27] Jon B: I wouldn't go. I wouldn't go on about the size of your PDA. It's not gonna get us many listeners.

[00:24:30] Mark: No indeed.

[00:24:31] Jon B: Although Douglas did write a phenomenal piece on writing an article on a PDA.

[00:24:36] Mark: Would it, would it have been a Palm Pilot or something.

[00:24:38] Jon B: Yeah, Something like that.

[00:24:39] Mark: But yes, I, I remember cycling through the words and then finding arse. Um,

[00:24:44] Jon H: Yes.

[00:24:45] Jon B: Is that the, is that the first rude word in the dictionary?

[00:24:48] Jon H: Hmm.

[00:24:49] Jon B: You skipped over anus there.

[00:24:50] Jon H: I was gonna say it depends if you think that biological words are rude words.

[00:24:54] Danny: Yeah. But anal's a verb as well as a moun.

[00:24:56] Jon B: Not the way I do it.

[00:24:57] Jon H: I remember, I remember everybody being very excited to find out that smeg from Red Dwarf did have like an entomology, and using the dictionary to, to show each other. Oh, that's a word. So we are doing swears when we say that, that's we clever?

[00:25:14] Danny: Are we in a safe space?

[00:25:15] Mark: mean, always, always, always, Danny,

[00:25:17] Jon H: you know, we tape and put on the internet. Don't you,

[00:25:20] Danny: Can I, can I trust that? can I trust that? I view as like, this is a safe space and this might ruin my reputation as as um,

[00:25:26] Mark: this is, this Is the one that's gonna do it. Is it? This is the one?

[00:25:29] Jon H: Yeah, everyone who's listening has signed an affidavit. It's fine. Is that what that is affidavit? A disclaimer.

[00:25:35] Jon B: No one who's listened to all of these podcasts could think any less of you.

[00:25:38] Danny: I remember looking up sex in the dictionary and then missing because dyslexia and then finding the word set and it having pages and pages of definitions. And being more excited about the fact that set has like 14 definitions of the word than actual sex, which is very, very tiny entry. And being, not my mind blown, cuz there's so many ways you can word and apparently set is the longest entry in the Oxford English Dictionary.

[00:26:12] Jon H: That is super cool. Like these little utility words that can do so much.

[00:26:16] Mark: I mean, how on earth do you define words like and? I mean, it gets us into sort of black added territory where they have Robbie Coltrane on playing the, uh, that splendid brainbox. Dr. Johnson. But, you know, because it doesn't really mean anything isn't, isn't helpful. Like how do you define the?

[00:26:32] Danny: I wish you many confabulation

[00:26:36] Mark: Sausage? Sausage? Dam your eyes.

[00:26:40] Jon B: I mean, diction is a fantastic, and one of the, one of the major things about the sort of, the Hitchhiker's Guide really, or the sort of expansion of the internet is that you can look up absolutely any word. And I remember, well, and I'm not necessarily in proper dictionaries, but like, do you remember Dan? When we came up with the name of our magazine,

[00:27:01] Mark: No. No. Do please tell the listener what your magazine was called.

[00:27:07] Danny: I still use the email that we set for that as my, my main official email.

[00:27:13] Jon H: That is your business address.

[00:27:14] Danny: And I have had to explain what I do breast through is more So we were looking for a name for a magazine, and we didn't wanna. Everything that we suggest, like we spent a whole night, like planning

[00:27:25] Mark: At one

[00:27:26] Danny: literally At the Goose.

[00:27:28] Jon B: the Goose and then we moved on to the Hare and Hounds. So it was a long meeting.

[00:27:32] Danny: And it was just thinking of a name for this magazine and everything.

[00:27:35] Jon B: the same words to each other and going no.

[00:27:37] Danny: It's probably Jon that suggested Dirty Bristow.

[00:27:42] Jon B: I don't know. I'm I don't think I'd have known that term to be honest.

[00:27:45] Danny: So, uh, should we explain what a Dirty Bristow is? Is this the, is this the type of podcast?

[00:27:49] Jon H: Internet. They can look it up in the dictionary.

[00:27:51] Danny: Yeah. Uh, Dirty Bristow. We'll give you, I mean, rusty trombone is, is also a, a very, it's a very similar, it's a very similar act.

[00:28:03] Mark: And are we oh, is this Bristow as in, as in, Eric?

[00:28:06] Danny: Yes.

[00:28:07] Mark: of course

[00:28:07] Danny: Eric Bristow, when he was taking his shot was famous for stick

[00:28:10] Mark: for, the non-English viewer listener. Uh, this is Eric Bristo, the darts player, yes.

[00:28:15] Danny: Before he retired with dartsitis, which is a real thing and you shouldn't laugh about it.

[00:28:20] Mark: No.

[00:28:20] Jon B: My dad had dartitis, it's not a laughing thing.

[00:28:22] Danny: So before he retired with a fictional, uh, thing that, uh, doesn't exist. Um, so he would take his shot, but as he was, as he was moving his hands backwards forward and aiming the shot, he would also stick his tongue out a little bit, just like that little bit while he was taking his shot.

[00:28:42] Mark: Jon Hickman. What have you got for us, mate?

[00:28:50] Jon H: I've got a little bit for you.

[00:28:51] Mark: All right. All all

[00:28:53] Jon B: What is your bit about?

[00:28:54] Jon H: Ghost writing

[00:28:55] Mark: Ah, who wrote it for you?

[00:28:56] Your

[00:28:58] Emma: The people of planet earth have a popular idea that a room full of monkeys hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually write the complete works of William Shakespeare. In fact, this has already happened.

[00:29:17] The ghost writers of Nubeaturn are a clan of Nathetian apes who write endless tracts. Untrained in word craft and without a language of their own, much of what they write is incomprehensible gibberish. However, the rate of output is so high that they managed to crank out an impressive list of celebrity biographies, such as Slartibartfast’s memoirs, Nothing But a Good Time, and Ford Prefect's account of working as a waiter in the Southeast of England, Fear and Loathing in Las Iguanas.

[00:29:49] The problem with infinite monkeys isn't one of writing, but one of reading. How do you find the actual books in all the words? And the thing is that in fact, Shakespeare was a speed reader from Lindvaris. The Lindvarians can read the written word at a speed that cannot be defined or measured, and are much in demand in the publishing houses of Ursa Minor Beta. They are the best chance you have at finding signal in the noise coming out of the ghost writers of Nubeaturn and Shakespeare used his gift during a visit to Earth and Tudor London in particular. He only meant to stop off on the primitive planet for a few days, but unfortunately got into a bet with a bear about who could draw the biggest crowd, and spent the rest of his working life staging plays in London, using manuscripts he found in the Nubeaturn subetha intrannet.

[00:30:41] He later retired home to Lindvaris, where to this day they trade on his fame, him doing all his best reading 7,000 light years away.


[00:30:51] Danny: Exit

[00:30:52] Jon B: like to

[00:30:52] Mark: Exit pursued by.

[00:30:58] I get a little bit hot under the bother, um, about the whole Shakespeare ghost striking thing, because I want, I just, it's not that I wanna believe so much. It's just that it just feels so like, why do we need, like, what's the, what's, what's the purpose here? Like what are we really serving? How many of us here, uh, like the various theories about Shakespeare either didn't exist or it was all written by someone else. Where are we all going with this?

[00:31:24] Danny: I can tell you why in, in like less than five words. Because he was poor. If he was toff that had written all that, there'd be no doubt about his, the veracity of his work, but because he was poor, came from nowhere, obviously, like there's not enough historical record. And obviously a poor person couldn't possibly be expected to change the course of English literature. It's It's classism wrapped up in mysteries and riddles.

[00:31:47] Jon B: Yeah. It's yeah, you're right. It's basically class. But there is a thing where they didn't really consider, um, copyright or authorship in the same way. So there are large tracts of certain bits of things that are Shakespeare that are, that were written by somebody else because he's just gone, okay here's a play about, dunno, Slartibartfast or whatever, that bit's good. I'll keep it and I'll write on top of it. And, um, if they've got like plagiarism detection software in the, uh, 16 hundreds, he would've been flagged,

[00:32:20] Mark: Yeah. I mean, fairness, if that stuff was, was, you know, more, more pounds upon, we wouldn't have reggae or hiphop, you know what I mean? It's, it's, it's endemic in our culture that we remaster and remix.

[00:32:29] Jon B: Popular culture is built on things like that. So Paul Weller, he decided, okay, I'm gonna quote the Beatles. And like, people didn't use to be quite upset about that sort of thing.

[00:32:40] Jon H: As long as you put 1962 in brackets after each light line, and then you'd put it in your footnote. You're alright.

[00:32:46] Jon B: When I was in a band years guy, I wrote a song and I was finding the lyrics quite hard, so I just sort of borrowed the lyrics from a Leonard Cohen song

[00:32:54] Mark: So you literally wrote one song to the tune of

[00:32:57] Danny: borrowed the.

[00:32:59] Jon B: I mean, not all of them, just bits. And so, so, if, um, when we recorded the thing, I just credited to, uh, Leonard as well as if we'd been writing it together. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:33:14] Danny: Co-written by Leonard Cohen, but don't tell him.

[00:33:18] Mark: That That reminds me of, um, I dunno if it's apocryphal, but I, I, I like to think it's true that Mike Bat for a joke, Mike Bat is the, is the, was the creator of the Wombles and also the manager or agent for, uh, popular songstress um,

[00:33:35] Jon B: Uh, Katie Melua.

[00:33:36] Mark: Katie Malua. And apparently he did a Wombles track, which was, uh, of of so many minutes of silence and it is credited as Bat slash Cage. And I believe

[00:33:49] Jon H: Oh, wow.

[00:33:49] Mark: was sued.

[00:33:51] Jon H: So about to Shakespeare for a second though, he didn't, he didn't need to actually go around to all the other theaters and write everything down because they were all writing in a tradition anyway. So there was like a Canon of work that they were all reworking. Um, there are plays from that are still, we have written records from, from Greek theater that were translated into theater in Rome, in Latin, that then Shakespeares used the stories from wholesale. So like he was, he was rewriting and readapting all the time things that were like of the canon of time too. which is I think really, really cool and quite interesting. And like, it's interesting cuz people then make 10 things I hear about you now. And Romeo and Julia or Romeo plus Julia or, or whatever, you know? So I quite, I quite like the way the story lives on and, and gets, gets, rewritten and, and, adapted.

[00:34:41] Mark: And, uh, to finish us off, uh, here is correspondent Danny Smith with a special on interactive books.

[00:34:52] Emma: Interactive books such as the sleek, well designed and thoroughly affordable compendium you have in your hands have been around for a long time. It could be argued footnote, mainly by the sort of people that don't spend very long writing for the guide and go slinking off to the Encyclopedia Galactical to pay off the resulting bar tabs and disorder fines

[00:35:14] Mark: Splitters

[00:35:15] Emma: that all books are Interactive. Footnote the only recorded instances of passive book reading is the Barnsanoble Tomes of Coffeeenshop Seven, who are known to aggressively fling their stories directly into the minds of passing humanoids, just to be shits.

[00:35:32] This is of course, not to be confused with passive aggressive book reading, which is fine, just stop asking.

[00:35:39] In fact, the very point of a book is to be interacted with, to some degree. Interactive stories, however, have been around much longer. One of the earliest forms of choose your own adventure stories happened in school textbooks, where the reader would be given a trail to follow. Go to page 78 would read the precise pencil scrawl in the margin. Ever curious, the often young reader would duly turn to the required page only to be met with go to 12. Now committed our hapless pupil would indeed go to page 12, but alas, they met with a, yet another labyrinthine command, go to 40. Exasperated, our charge would seek out the faded number only to be met with the famous photo of Argleblax the Jagged, astride his many legged octojet. Only this photo is doctored to include a phallus going into his mouth and a word bubble coming out which reads your dad's woofter, even though Argleblax the Jagged is reported to have said no such thing.

[00:36:39] Luckily, These stories got more sophisticated, often read by the adolescents of the species. These stories more often than not took the form of elaborate power fantasies that involved violence, rescuing and heaving things.

[00:36:56] To accommodate this, the setting of these adventures would be at a point in the more violent past. During a species' late capitalism cycle, the setting would be medieval, often glossing over the facts that an average peasants life would contain a lot fewer working hours, a more equitable system of direct governance, more holidays and festivals, and focus on swords and dragons and whatnot.

[00:37:20] Of course, when capitalism inevitably collapses and the species moves on, the stories tend to be about fighting it out in the harrowing environments of late capitalism.

[00:37:31] Below is an excerpt from a popular choose your own adventure book, Keith and the Brokerage of Bastards.

[00:37:41] Danny: Okay, we have, uh, 364. Uh, we come into the action.

[00:37:45] Emma: Few, the HR harpe swoops past your desk.

[00:37:49] Danny: Anymore for Daryl's collection? His vasectomy is tomorrow.

[00:37:53] Emma: She screeches inhumanly as her leathery wings flap the feted recycled air about the office. Hiding and punching the work experience boy in the kidneys have left you hungry. Unfortunately, your zero hour contract doesn't allow for paid lunch breaks. Do you have lunch anyway and eat at your desk? Hoping no one will notice? 365. Work through your lunch break? 366. Go for lunch and treat yourself to some of that tralamillow on toast, the food all the entire culture have collectively decided to eat at the same time for some reason? 367.

[00:38:30] Jon B: I'm hung. I'm hungry. And also that was the only one I could remember. Sorry.

[00:38:33] Emma: Thank the stars and the moon above, you think to yourself as you skip to the local expensive sandwich place. Thank all the celestial bodies that the government saw fit to keep these sandwich shops open during the last global pandemic.

[00:38:48] You enter the shop.

[00:38:50] I mean, a lot of people had to die to save them, but it's just so convenient to spend the couple of hours pay on a meal to get you through the next couple of hours work.

[00:39:00] You order your meal. There's a stinky man slinking by the bad mass produced art on the walls. Drat, it's a tabloid hack and he took your picture. Your pocket computer beeps with an alert. It's the photo. The headline reads Economy in ruins. Young people. Squandering money on tralamillow on toast. Lose two health in guilt and rage damage. Eat it anyway? 371. Attack the tabloid hack? 372.

[00:39:30] Jon H: Well, should we do it? Should we go back up the, up the tree and do

[00:39:33] Danny: Okay.

[00:39:34] Jon H: This is, yeah, this is all good. Choose your own adventure stuff, really. Oh, we, we died. Well, I mean, I was gonna attack the journalist by the way. That's what I was gonna do, so.

[00:39:42] Danny: Eat at your desk coping. No notice. 365.

[00:39:44] Emma: You open your lunchbox at your desk. It contains raw rice. You found near a church after a wedding, one banana you stole from the display downstairs that you hope is real, spam, half a packet of breath minnts. You may add these items to your inventory or eat them to add half a point of health for each item.

[00:40:07] Reading a news article on the phone, the headline reads Not enough. Young people are buying tralamillow on toast. Economy in ruins. Take two points of health in guilt damage.

[00:40:18] Oh no, your boss has noticed you with your lunch. Roll for conversation. Win? 368. Lose? 369.

[00:40:28] Jon H: Um, we win.

[00:40:32] Mark: okay, so we, uh, I guess we've reached it again. So let's go back to that first choice then

[00:40:35] Danny: uh, have your lunch anyway and eat it at your desk hoping no-one will notice? 365. Work through your lunch break? 366. Or go out for lunch and treat yourself to some of that tralamillow on toast, the food the entire culture has collectively decided to eat at the same time for some reason.

[00:40:48] Mark: it's gotta be 366.

[00:40:49] Emma: Diligently you work through your lunch break, lose two health. Luckily, no one actually knows what a systems analyst does so you are analyzing of those systems poorly due to crippling hunger goes unnoticed. And so does your sacrifice. You could have taken your lunch break after all. Your supervisor doesn't give a fuck. Never has done. and probably never will do. Go to 370.

[00:41:14] Danny: And that's the last of it. That's all I got.

[00:41:17] Mark: I mean, we, we're speaking to someone who is a D&D DM, uh, and as someone who has made basically a choose your own adventure podcast, uh, I, I applaud you. And, uh, I now know where your, um, Thursday nights have been spent when you should have been spending them recording a podcast with us, but that's fine. You've got your new D&D friends, it's okay.

[00:41:40] Danny: I was obsessed with the Ear Jackson steam bloom.

[00:41:43] Jon B: Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson,

[00:41:45] Danny: Yeah. those books, I was obsessed with them. I collected, like I nearly got the entire tire run. And I would go through them and I would explore every single option. Like I wouldn't play them as they intended to be played, but I'd do the obvious thing where I'd put my thumb in it and go back and, and like explore the entire things.

[00:42:01] Mark: I mean, you know, well, what is putting your thumb on there? If not just the saved game slot of our time, you know?

[00:42:07] Danny: Yeah, of course, like

[00:42:09] Mark: You gotta save state.

[00:42:10] Danny: I would love to meet. one of those guys and go like, you know, I cheated, right. And he'd be like, no it's

[00:42:14] Mark: Right?

[00:42:15] Jon B: Ian Livingston's very, approachable on Twitter, actually. Uh, he loves to talk about sort of shit.

[00:42:19] Danny: And I would love him to go it is absolutely fine, I forgive you. And I would be like, there would. be a bit of guilt that has, that has, hung on my heart since I was a teenager just lifted at that point.

[00:42:31] Jon B: Weirdly, I've always wanted to meet, um, James Joyce and, uh, apologize for putting my thumb in the second page of, of Ulysses and then pretending I'd read it.

[00:42:42] Mark: Well since we're talking about books, gentlemen, um, how does the notion of writing a book together strike you?

[00:43:01] Danny: With you.

[00:43:03] Jon B: I dunno. I don't. Yeah, I

[00:43:04] Mark: Okay. Yeah. So, so basically I'll write it and then you three can put your names on it and then we'll say that, that,

[00:43:10] Danny: Can I shout at you while it happens?

[00:43:12] Mark: There you go. you can, every now and again, I will be at the keyboard and then Danny can sit next to me and just every now and again, just bat my hand away. I'll just be typing and he'll just bat my hand away and say, I'm contributing.

[00:43:26] Danny: I love the idea that I'm the cat of this podcast. I'm like, helping, helping, and then wonder off again, like, completely entitled going yeah, that was me. I,

[00:43:41] Jon B: We're gonna lock you in a hotel room until you've delivered it.

[00:43:45] Mark: Well, if you would like dear listener, if you would like to get a copy of the book, uh, we are actually, this is a thing that's happening. Um, then BTL Uh, there is a form to enter your email address. Uh, we will tell you more about the book when it arrives. Uh, so go and do that now. BT. Do do it now, if you are in traffic, get out your phone now while you are driving and do this, um, it's, it's completely safe to do so it's really, but if the police pull you over, tell them it's really, important,

[00:44:11] Danny: if I don't hear about a serious train or rail accident caused by this particular call to action, I will be fucking furious.

[00:44:19] Jon B: If you are, shagging right now, reach behind their head and pick up your phone

[00:44:23] Mark: Sign up for our newsletter. We've never asked you to do anything like this before, but if you like us, and if you'd like, if you'd like this, this, thing. We're British, we're not supposed to. This thing that we've made. If you'd like to see what happens when we write stuff, uh, then and sacrifice your email address. And as a reward, we will tell you when we have our book ready. Well, we'll probably tell you when we want to ask you for money to help make the book happen. You know how it happens. Publishing dead.

[00:44:52] Jon H: And if you're listening in the future, after we've it, then you know that we've done

[00:44:56] Mark: Yeah,

[00:44:57] Jon H: but still go through all those steps.

[00:44:59] Jon B: have oin

[00:45:00] Mark: will. And have, and, have

[00:45:02] Danny: And future people like I'm totally sorry. I never recycled anything. I just thought it was a waste of time. I'm sorry about like, I'm sorry. I just, I just thought like, like you see all the corporations and like, is this really gonna matter? Like, like it goes into the same bin. Like nobody cares. Uh, I'm sorry. It's It's on me a little bit. Sorry, future person.

[00:45:23] Mark: You have been listening to Jon Bounds, Jon Hickman, Danny Smith and me, mark Steadman. We are Beware of the Leopard and our voice of the guide is the notorious Emma Wright.

[00:45:38] You'll find links to all of our stuff along with our back catalog at That's where you can also sign up to be informed when our next episode drops as well as the new book, which we are working on as we speak. Uh, if you have any follow-up for us, is where you can send it.

[00:45:59] So I made a joke, um, that I deal with the writing and the lads to take all the credit. Just to be clear, that's absolutely not true. All the bits you hear read by Emma are written by each of us. They are very good boys and always lift their feet up off the floor when I'm hoovering under the big chair.

[00:46:17] We'll be back in a few weeks with our next episode, all about fashion. So until then, share and enjoy.

[00:46:25] Jon B: imagine coming up with a brand for like the whole thing about like, oh, dunno, they've come up with a brand of car. And it means c**t in German or something.

[00:46:33] Jon H: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:46:36] Mark: I mean, I, would imagine c**t means c**t in German, cuz that's a pretty German sounding word.

[00:46:40] Jon B: well, it weirdly, um, uh, I remember once being in a room with some people, one of whom was cutting their toenails. Stay with me.

[00:46:49] Danny: I'm along with you, this journey, mate. Um, I've packed my bags, my rucksack's there. Come on. Tell good. Bring it.

[00:46:56] Jon B: in a room. I was a room in, um, Holland with someone who's discussing their toenails and someone, what?

[00:47:04] Danny: Come on all, all stories. Start this

[00:47:07] Jon B: And, it was, it was, it was, a lovely room. It was a lovely room, very, very Dutch, very sort of Scandinavian style furniture will of house plants, um, quite warm, uh, open plant type, uh, thing. Uh, they would cutting their toenails onto the, um, coffee table.

[00:47:24] Jon H: Mm.

[00:47:25] Jon B: The guy's name was Jon. Actually. We called him Dutch Jon to differentiate.

[00:47:28] Jon H: Got it.

[00:47:29] Danny: Hang on. Were you in, were you in Holland?

[00:47:30] Mark: we can't no, just just

[00:47:32] Jon B: Yeah. Yeah, I was

[00:47:34] Mark: Please let him play through, let him play through..

[00:47:36] Danny: By rights you should have been English Jon then?

[00:47:38] Jon B: funnily enough. He was english, but he lived in Holland, so we called him Dutch jam,

[00:47:43] Jon H: Okay.

[00:47:44] Mark: I beg of you complete this story. I I besearch you, Jon. English Jon,

[00:47:49] Jon B: but he was chopping, he was chopping his toenails and uh, someone said, what's he doing in? They said, cut. And his wife who was Dutch got very offended because cut.

[00:48:00] Jon H: Linda, but \

[00:48:00] Jon B: Uh, yeah, we call, we call it, we called her, we, we call her

[00:48:05] English.

[00:48:05] Mark: close. We were so close. Sorry, go on.

[00:48:10] Jon B: She's dead. Now

[00:48:11] Danny: I'm still waiting for this to veer into socialism. Like I am.

[00:48:19] Jon B: But Essentially, uh, in, in Dutch, uh, c**t is cut. There you go.

Creators and Guests

Danny Smith
Danny Smith
Writer and malcontent. Co-wrote Pier Review with Jon Bounds. His new book is Staring Death in the Face.
Jon Bounds
Jon Bounds
Marxist with ‘70s sitcom fixation. Edits Paradise Circus, writes books on Birmingham and piers.
Jon Hickman
Jon Hickman
Author of 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World, and Birmingham: It’s Not Shit: 50 Things That Delight About Brum.
Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman
Mark makes podcasts, music, books, and things to help creative people get out of their own way.