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Books Editorial

funnyhaha.jpg Funny Ha-Ha, Funny Peculiar

Edited by Neil Astley, Bloodaxe Books, £9.99

Bin all your pills, potions and herbal remedies. If you’re looking for a proper tonic then let Hexham’s ever reliable Bloodaxe Books sort you out with their latest anthology which collects together both laugh out loud poetry, and poetry which – in the peculiarly English tradition – takes a weird, or surreal turn: the ode less travelled. It’s a modern collection (so no Lewis Carroll et al) featuring usual, but very welcome, suspects such as Roger McGough and Wendy Cope, but also Ivor Cutler and the excellent Daljit Nagra. Hard to pick a favourite but I’ve always loved Adrian Mitchell’s Ten Ways to Avoid Lending Your Wheelbarrow to Anybody (“2. Snobbish: May I borrow your wheelbarrow? Unfortunately Samuel Beckett is using it”); and it’s pleasing to see Kate Fox in here too, with Our Ends in the North, which gives a northern view on the end of the world: “But in the North we don’t like to make a fuss us / though sometimes, I admit, we make a bit of a fuss / about how we don’t make a fuss.” Lovely stuff.