Books

Things Can Only Get Worse?

John O'Farrell

'Hilarious, insightful and has that rare quality of making politics fun. A brilliant book everyone should read, whoever you vote for.' Owen Jones, author of The Establishment


From the giddy heights of New Labour's landslide victory in 1997 to the shock result of the 2017 snap election, these are the frank and funny memoirs of one bewildered Labour activist who tried to carry on as usual long after politics had stopped making sense.

With a literary flair that has been compared to Donald Trump's tweets, John O'Farrell attempts to explain the alarming rise of populist politics, Labour's twenty-year identity crisis, and why you should never tell your mother you are doing a radio phone-in, unless you want her ringing up to tell everyone she agrees with you. On everything.

Along the way, John stood for parliament against Theresa May but failed to step into her shoes; he took his campaigning skills to America (but still Obama got in); and he was dubbed 'the sickest man in politics' by the Daily Mail when in truth he's only the second or third.

The long-awaited sequel to the best-selling Things Can Only Get Better is for everyone who could use a good laugh after Brexit, Trump and learning you were governed by the DUP. A twenty-year journey from hope to despair and back again, packed with political confessions even more outrageous than running through fields of wheat.

Things Can Only Get Better

John O'Farrell

Like bubonic plague and stone cladding, no-one took Margaret Thatcher seriously until it was too late. Her first act as leader was to appear before the cameras and do a V for Victory sign the wrong way round. She was smiling and telling the British people to f*** off at the same time. It was something we would have to get used to.'

Things Can Only Get Better is the personal account of a Labour supporter who survived eighteen miserable years of Conservative government. It is the heartbreaking and hilarious confessions of someone who has been actively involved in helping the Labour party lose elections at every level: school candidate: door-to-door canvasser: working for a Labour MP in the House of Commons; standing as a council candidate; and eventually writing jokes for a shadow cabinet minister.

Along the way he slowly came to realise that Michael Foot would never be Prime Minister, that vegetable quiche was not as tasty as chicken tikki masala and that the nuclear arms race was never going to be stopped by face painting alone.

There's Only Two David Beckhams

John O'Farrell

Re-live the glory and the heartache of England's greatest ever game - and THAT World Cup Final back in 2022.

Well now it’s 2022 and the discussion is finally over, England have eleven players as good as any of them. The unbeatable national team have reached the final of the Qatar World Cup. But one journalist is convinced there is a scandalous secret behind England’s incredible form. His lifetime’s dream is to see the Three Lions win the World Cup. But if he pursues and exposes the shocking truth, his beloved England could be sent home in disgrace.

Suddenly this is much more than England vs Germany; it’s Love vs Duty, it’s Truth vs Happiness.
The pressure of the penalty shoot-out is nothing compared to this.

There’s Only Two David Beckhams is John O’Farrell’s love-letter to football; part-detective story, part-sports memoir, part-satire on the whole corrupt FIFA circus; it just made the final for the funniest football fiction ever written...

The Man Who Forgot His Wife

John O'Farrell

Lots of husbands forget things: they forget that their wife had an important meeting that morning; they forget to pick up the dry cleaning; some of them even forget their wedding anniversary.

But Vaughan has forgotten he even has a wife. Her name, her face, their history together, everything she has ever told him, everything he has said to her - it has all gone, mysteriously wiped in one catastrophic moment of memory loss. And now he has rediscovered her - only to find out that they are getting divorced.

The Man Who Forgot His Wife is the funny, moving and poignant story of a man who has done just that. And who will try anything to turn back the clock and have one last chance to reclaim his life.

The Best A Man Can Get

John O'Farrell

Michael Adams shares a flat with three other men in their late twenties. Days are spent lying in bed, playing computer games and occasionally doing a bit of work. And then, when he feels like it, he crosses the river and goes back to his unsuspecting wife and children.

For Michael is living a double life - he escapes from the exhausting misery of babies by telling his wife he has to work through the night or travel up north. And while she is valiantly coping on her own, he is just a few miles away in a secret flat, doing all the things that most men with small children can only dream about. He thinks he can have it all, until is deception is inevitably exposed...

The Best a Man Can Get is written with the hilarious eye for detail that sent John O'Farrell's first book, Things Can Only Get Better, to the top of the bestseller lists. It is a darkly comic confessional that is at once compelling, revealing and very, very funny.

This Is Your Life

John O'Farrell

It's a big night at the London Palladium. As Jimmy Conway steps out blinking into the spotlights live on national television, he can't help wondering whether he should have perhaps shared his little secret with someone by now. Jimmy has never done any performing of any sort ever before...

Just as 'bogus doctors' are occasionally discovered working in hospitals, Jimmy Conway has become a 'bogus celebrity'; winning an award for something he never did, being photographed in Hello! in someone else's house, and ultimately making a fool of the entire mad and shallow celebrity merry-go-round.

May Contain Nuts

John O'Farrell

Alice never imagined that she would end up like this. Is she the only mother who feels so permanently panic-stricken at the terrors of the modern world - or is it normal to sit up in bed all night popping bubble wrap? She worries that too much gluten and dairy may be hindering her children's mental arithmetic. She frets that there are too many cars on the road to let them out of the 4x4. Finally she resolves to take control and tackle her biggest worry of all: her daughter is definitely not going to fail that crucial secondary school entrance exam. Because Alice has decided to take the test in her place...

With his trademark comic eye for detail, John O'Farrell has produced a funny and provocative book that will make you laugh, cry and vow never to become that sort of parent. And then you can pass it on to your seven-year-old, because she really ought to be reading grown-up novels by now...

I Blame The Scapegoats

John O'Farrell

A doctor in America has just invented a 'sperm sorting machine'. At least that's what he claimed when his receptionist burst into the office to find him doing something peculiar with the Hoover attachment. Apparently the system used for separating the male and female sperm is remarkably simple. A sample is placed in the petri dish with a microscopic pile of household items on a tiny staircase. All the sperm that go straight past without picking anything up are obviously boys.

John O'Farrell's first collection of columns GLOBAL VILLAGE IDIOT was a huge success prompting fulsome praise from such major public figures as the Queen Mother, Roy Jenkins and Cardinal Hume. Sadly, since their deaths, their glowing endorsements cannot be officially verified. So here instead is another collection of funny, satirical essays on a hundred and one 21st century subjects. Read how the government plans to introduce 'Santa loans' that will leave school children £10,000 in debt for all the presents that used to be free from Father Christmas. Learn how the EU is being expanded to include Narnia. And did you know that American war planes now have a little sticker on the back saying 'How's my bombing?' with an 0800 number to call if they blow up any Muslim country in a discourteous of aggressive manner . . .

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1940s

John O'Farrell (and others)

The 1940s - Britain emerging victorious from the ruins of WWII, heralded a Labour Prime Minister into government in the first vote for a decade, and a new era of hopefulness and social reform began. A sharp focus on home affairs after the horrors seen abroad meant the development of a Welfare State to rid the land of 'Want, Greed, Squalour and Idleness' (though no mention of having too many remotes for the DVD, telly and everything). Though not all were as radicalised by the idea- the upper classes were stunned- 'They've gone and elected a Labour government. The country won't stand for it!'

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1950s

John O'Farrell (and others)

The 1950s was an era viewed by many Britons to be a Golden Age; in fact, the Isle of Wight liked it so much they decided to stay there.
With the end of rationing, the increase in availability of consumer goods, and the money with which to buy it, Britain rushed out to purchase luxuries like TVs, fridges, and its first nuclear deterrent (though their pocket money couldn't quite stretch to it). The teenager was also invented somewhere in the United States, causing mass panic across vast swathes of suburban England.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1960s

John O'Farrell (and others)

The swinging sixties introduced several progressive laws to the residents of the British Isles. The conversion of the nation to flared trousers, the legalisation of colour and the right to live in a newly built tower block almost entirely made from asbestos. Yet despite the freedoms gained, the vibrant clothing, the music, often the grooviest experience of the average youth of Britain was down a mine.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1970s

John O'Farrell (and others)

Strikes, hooliganism, IRA bombings and the most atrocious haircuts of the last 50 years. The 1970s do appear to be a dark time in Britain's history.
While whole counties were subsumed by concrete, roundabouts, and subways (assisting the burgeoning mugging industry), power cuts reduced the nation to women shopping in candlelight and, god forbid, actually having sex with their husbands.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1990s

John O'Farrell (and others)

Significant moments of the 1990s included the first Gulf War, the Fall of the Berlin Wall and John Major's radical new traffic cone hotline. Britain would begin the decade in recession, coming to its climax on Black Wednesday, a term coined by little known shadow chancellor Gordon Brown, the rail industry would be come privatised and Iraq's invasion of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War.
But in 1997 a sprightly New Labour hopped on to the political soapbox and the country began to believe that things could, possibly, be getting better.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 1980s

John O'Farrell (and others)

A decade dominated by the collapse of the manufacturing industry, troubles escalating in Ireland, the Falklands war, AIDs and yuppies. Not to mention the country being run by one of the most unpopular leaders of the country since polling began.
Thankfully, the marriage of Charles and Di in a spectacular wedding lifted the spirits of the nation for a while, until Di promised to love, honour and then fracture the Royal Family with a string of embarrassing revelations.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: 2000s

John O'Farrell (and others)

Beginning with New Labour's pithy campaign promises such as Education, Education, Education, and ending with the worst financial crises of the last six decades, the Noughties saw Labour fade from its glimmering best to a government obsessed with 'spin', WMDs and watching us like Big Brother while we all watched Big Brother.From the million children lifted off the poverty line, Britain winning the 2012 Olympic bid to the cataclysmic terrorist acts on the West, we are brought right up to date in the history of the British Isles with John O'Farrell's utterly impartial, cantakarous journey through history.

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain

John O'Farrell

Following his hugely popular account of the previous 2000 years, John O'Farrell now comes bang up to date with a hilarious modern history asking 'How the hell did we end up here?'

An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain informs, elucidates and laughs at all the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain's story since 1945; leaving the Twenty-First Century reader feeling fantastically smug for having the benefit of hindsight.

Isle of Wight to get Ceefax

John O'Farrell

John O'Farrell presents over two hundred almost-true news stories from Britain's leading satirical site, including Charity Launches Guide Dogs for the Late and Teenagers on Work Experience Banned from Air Traffic Control.

Remember where you were when you heard that the fifty-year rule was abolished fifty years ago? Or the news that dolphins stop smiling the moment our backs are turned? It's all in this handy book-shaped collection which brings together Britain's most exciting new comedy writers and the talents behind such shows as Have I Got News For You, Spitting Image and Lead Balloon.

From Sainsbury's Launch New Gullible Range to Ryanair to Charge for Emotional Baggage, this hilarious journey through the year represents the very best in topical comedy from the website that the New York Times declared was Britain's answer to The Onion.

'The funniest book of the year from Britain's funniest website,' says TV's Robert Mugabe

'If this book doesn't win the Booker Prize I will personally nut Melvyn Bragg or whichever ponce is in charge this year,' says former soccer hard man Vinnie Jones.

An Utterly Impartial History of Britain

John O'Farrell

Many of us were put off history by the dry and dreary way it was taught at school. Back then 'The Origins of the Industrial Revolution' somehow seemed less compelling than the chance to test the bold claim on Timothy Johnson's 'Shatterproof' ruler.But here at last is a chance to have a good laugh and learn all that stuff you feel you really ought to know by now...

In this 'Horrible History for Grown Ups' you can read how Anglo-Saxon liberals struggled to be positive about immigration; 'Look I think we have to try and respect the religious customs of our new Viking friends - oi, he's nicked my bloody ox!'Discover how England's peculiar class system was established by some snobby French nobles whose posh descendents still have wine cellars and second homes in the Dordogne today. And explore the complex socio-economic reasons why Britain's kings were the first in Europe to be brought to heel; (because the Stuarts were such a useless bunch of untalented, incompetent, arrogant, upper-class thickoes that Parliament didn't have much choice.)

A book about then that is also incisive and illuminating about now, '2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots in Charge', is an hilarious, informative and cantankerous journey through Britain' fascinating and bizarre history.As entertaining as a witch burning, and a lot more laughs.

I Have A Bream

John O'Farrell

Isn't it always the way? You wait ages for one purple flour-filled condom and then three come along at once. Of course the correct procedure for a chemical attack in the House of Commons would have been for MPs to remain in the chamber and remove all items of clothing.I'm not sure which is the more horrific vision; anthrax all over London or Nicholas Soames slipping out of his Y-fronts while chatting to a naked Ann Widdecombe.

Here at last is the third collection of John O'Farrell's immensely popular Guardian columns - the final part of the trilogy in which he discovers that Margaret Thatcher is actually his mother. Contained within these covers are a hundred funny, satirical essays on subjects as diverse as Man's ascent from the apes and the re-election of George W. Bush.Plus there is a full account of O'Farrell's heroic but slightly less successful attempt to capture his Tory home town for socialism.He claims that identity fraud has got so bad that an audacious impostor using the name A.L. Blair even managed to get himself a Labour Party card by posing a left-wing champion of wealth distribution and civil rights.He asks why a Blackberry isn't compatible with an Apple.And find out why the Queen didn't go to her own son's wedding; 'What happened to that other girl you were seeing?' 'Mother, we got divorced and then she died in a car crash, remember?' 'Well sometimes you have to work at these things dear...'

Global Village Idiot

John O'Farrell

'This week the first pet passports came into effect. Around the country dogs have been hopping into photo booths and trying to look as relaxed as possible, which is not easy when you know you're not allowed on the chair.'

Gathered here are the best of John O'Farrell's newspaper columns for the Guardian and the Independent which saw him win the coveted Best Columnist of the Year Award at the prestigious British Liars Awards. Among many other things, he claims that the only conviction in the Tory Party will be when Jeffrey Archer gets sent to prison; that scientists have created a genetically superior monkey which will advertise lapsang souchong instead of PG Tips; and that with the election of George W. Bush, the global village has finally got its own global village idiot.

Biography

John O'Farrell's first book was a bestselling memoir, Things Can Only Get Better. Since then he has published five novels: The Man Who Forgot His Wife, May Contain Nuts, This Is Your Life, The Best a Man Can Get and most recently There's Only Two David Beckhams. He has also written two best-selling history books: An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, as well as three collections of journalism from his Guardian columns. His books have been translated into over twenty-five languages and have been adapted for radio and television. A former comedy scriptwriter for such productions as Spitting Image, Room 101, Have I Got News For You, Murder Most Horrid and Chicken Run, he is founder of the UK's first daily news satire website NewsBiscuit and more recently co-wrote the Broadway musical Something Rotten!