Myths & Legends

It was all excitement at The Bookseller Crow on the Hill because a legend was in our midst – Stephen Appleby. He of wit and wonder in the Grauniad, prizing apart family life in uncanny cartoons and having a jolly good look at the insides. He takes the mundane, the everyday incidences and thoughts, and proves that they are anything but. Lovely fellow and so is his co-author in the Coffee Table Book of Doom, Art Lester. And it was a lovely launch party too, full of Art’s excellent charcouterie, and wine and beer and general bonhomie, not too may spillages and lots and lots of chat.

The subject of nits isn’t covered in his new book but microbial warfare is, naturally. Along with some brilliant drawings including a diagram of where to check if you fear pandemic contagion with arrows pointing to the body suggesting HERE, HERE, DOWN HERE, BEHIND HERE, HERE etc. It sounds like a head-check for lice. As we sloshed around more celebratory plonk, Stephen’s delightful editor commented that they never really had a problem with nits in the family because her wee boy never got ’em. The hormones you see, she explained.

How is it that people still believe this? It was no fun putting her straight, I can tell you but it had to be done. It is precisely that kind of rot that keeps the ole head lice in the money, thankyou very much. As our own soon-to-be-published book says, grown-up blokes don’t get nits because they don’t put their heads near their children. It ain’t because they are simmering with testosterone. Actually, in a way it is – cuddling kids is woman’s work afterall..

Meanwhile, boys get ’em as much as girls thesedays. When once upon a time your average eight year old chap was encouraged to shake hands and keep a stiff upper lip, now he lolls all over his friends on the sofa playing the Xbox and huddles with his school chums on the class carpet at group time. And there’s nothing head lice more than the current social phenomenon called The Sleepover. You do the maths..

Whilst not professing to be legendary as yet (ahem), me and the Bugman will get our own launch party in May when The Little Book of Nits finally hatches and hopefully it will go some way towards dispelling those ghastly louse perpetuating myths. In the meantime, the excitement is building, the best glasses have been rinsed out and the only headscratching is over how just many friends we can cram in between the shelves.

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