Emma Beddington

Nina Stibbe’s eye for the absurd is as sharp as ever

Nina Stibbe is back in London. It has been 20 years since she left, and 40 years since she first arrived from Leicester to nanny, ineptly, for Mary-Kay Wilmers, the editor of the London Review of Books. Back then, she chronicled her adventures (minor car crashes; thinking Alan Bennett was in Coronation Street; inadvertently stealing

The man who hired himself out to do next to nothing

Have you ever dreamed of just giving up? Doing nothing? Shoji Morimoto went ahead and did it: so much so that he didn’t even write the memoir that bears his name. Rental Person Who Does Nothing is the story of how he stopped working as a freelance writer and offered himself – just his basic

Mitfordian mischief: Darling, by India Knight, reviewed

It takes chutzpah to tackle a national treasure as jealously loved and gatekept as Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love. Purists greeted last year’s television adaptation much as cat-owners might welcome a partially eviscerated mouse. I avoided watching, because the Wes Andersonification of my greatest literary succour seemed likely to burst every vein in my

Back on the road: Less is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer, reviewed

Get ready for more of Less: Andrew Sean Greer’s hapless novelist is back on the road. First things first: you need to have read Less, Greer’s Pulitzer-winning first outing for his creation, to appreciate this slighter but equally charming sequel. That’s no hardship. Less was hilarious and humane: a hymn to second acts. In it,

Good luck enjoying eating salmon ever again

‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by cat videos,’ begins Henry Mance’s How to Love Animals, winningly. That is the paradox he sets out to unpick in this densely factual and intermittently horrifying book: how a world in thrall to cuteness, endlessly compelled to click on videos of kittens and owls having

Not just a trolley dolly: the demanding life of an air hostess

Come Fly the World is not the book I thought I was getting. The slightly (surely deliberately) pulpy cover — a glamazonian stewardess, her mirrored cat-eye sunglasses reflecting a runway — promised a Mad Men-era history of silver service and highballs at 30,000 feet, glamour, frocks and sexual shenanigans. Admittedly, deprived of the quixotic delights

Victoria Wood: stiletto in an oven glove

Even if you didn’t have an Auntie Dot in Cockermouth (the one who ate a raffia drinks coaster, mistaking it for a high-fibre biscuit), it was impossible not to feel Victoria Wood got you, somehow. Her death in 2016 triggered an outpouring of grief commensurate to her talent, but it also revealed how intimately, how