This book is subtitled `A Cantankerous Consumer's Compilation of Mistakes, Misprints and Misinformation'. Somewhere in there should be the word `hilarious', though of course then, the alliteration would fall down. The book is essentially a rant against the kinds of misinformation we are fed by manufacturers, advertisers, retailers and others. However, what quickly becomes clear is that much of the misinformation is unintentional, sometimes with hilarious and mind-boggling results. Take this somewhat surreal example from the first chapter, `The Art of the Bleeding Obvious' - `ASDA have shops with in-store opticians in them and one such has a sign saying: "Contact lens patients should remember to bring their lenses with them or we will be unable to see them". Or this, from eBay: "As Christmas is approaching, the postal service will be very busy recently".
In his second chapter, `Confusion Rules', Patrick looks at ambiguous wording, both written and spoken. In a section on unwelcome ingredients in products, he cites the example of a computer printer box which contains the warning: "may contain products from Switzerland". Later chapters include confusing pricing and/or information from supermarkets and other service providers. I laughed out loud at many examples, including the information on a toothbrush from Superdrug, which sells at £1.44 and comes with the statement that it is equivalent to: "£7.58 per metre".
Much of the book is comical, and as I read, I marked the examples which had particularly tickled me. However, there are only so many page-markers in a pad, so I eventually gave up as almost every page offers a belly laugh or two. That said, the book does have a serious purpose, and comes with the warning that unless we are attentive to the words around us, we can very easily be mislead, whether by accident or design.
Patrick Forsyth is a prolific author of serious business books, but here, I'm delighted to say, his previously unsuspected sense of the ridiculous is very much to the fore, making for a very enjoyable read.