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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Complete Best Man: How to Turn a Terrifying Prospect into a Piece of Cake
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 November 2009
Like most people I am most familiar with Betjeman's poetry, most notably Slough.
The tone of that poem - humorous; sardonic - is the main tone throughout the rest of his poetry, but they only make up half of this book.
The second half is full of Betjeman's prose, a section of which is made up of his pieces about Britain's churches (a passion of his, and his architectural knowledge is clearly beyond that of the amateur), the script for his commentary on a TV piece called Metroland (about the commuter belt outside London), and various other pieces.
One note-worthy piece for me was a letter found by his publisher written half in French, half in English, that seems somehow to capture the very essence of Betjeman's fun-loving nature and irrepressible desire to play with words.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
I love this book - it captures all aspects of Betjeman's writing and is accessible for those of us who aren't otherwise great readers of poetry.If you're abroad , this could make you homesick! It is rather nostalgic and to me conjures up all that is best about England .The prose is as interesting as the poetry and in bite-sized chunks so it's perfect for reading on a journey too. Definately worth buying!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2011
A perfect companion for someone preparing a best man's speech. I bought it about three weeks before the big day and managed to cobble together a speech that got a few chuckles and seemed to make the bride and groom happy.

The first half of the book covers the 'other duties' of a best man i.e. role in supporting wedding plans, organizing stag etc. (this section got a 10 minute glance from me - as I didn't see it as particularly relevant to the stage I was at. The bride and groom had already spelled out where they needed my support)

Part 2 of the book: The Speech gives you - in a short number of pages- all the guidance you need. i.e. Structure,strong opening and closing, Dos and Don'ts, tips for delivery, confidence tips etc. It includes apprx 10 sample speeches which you can pluck relevant funny one liners from and make them your own. The author provides heaps of food for thought to facilitate you in producing your own original speech.

To make best use of the material takes a little bit of time so do purchase with some time to spare before the wedding........
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2010
Now, obviously there was a wedding approaching, and I had been asked to be the best man, which in itself is a dubious honour. A honour yes, but it comes with the responsibility of keeping that bloody speech. And since you are looking at this book now, I'm assuming you are in the same boat as I was.

The biggest challenge of being the best man is, no doubt, the speech. And that was the reason I got this book. Sure half of the book is dedicated to the other responsibilities of the best man, but that is just common sense, that doesn't require a book. The other half of the book is about the speech, which in the end isn't too much information. It gives you a flexible structure for the speech with some examples, what to mention, what to avoid and some example speeches.

Now considering we are living in the time of the Internet. There are plenty of web sites out there offering example speeches, even for free. And YouTube is full videos about this. So all the information in this book can be found from somewhere else, and I would highly recommend you to look into those places. But then again, it is nice to have something in writing, and the outlay in the book is ok, if only to give you a hint on how to organize your speech, but this by itself won't be enough.

Now, about the speech itself, looking at this book, Internet and YouTube, it seems to be that the same jokes are repeated over and over again, ad nauseam (if you didn't recognize the joke in the beginning of he review, you haven't done your research yet). The one good advice that this book gives, is start collecting material early, and I do mean early, months before the actual event. And whatever you do, don't try to wing it. We are talking about the best day of your mate here, put some effort into it. And besides, even if everything else goes perfect, but you mess up the speech, people will remember - no pressure.

The point of collecting all that material early on, is that when you then start writing the speech, you have something to make it personal, sure use a few of the cliche jokes, but for goodness sake, try to have some of your own material there, lots of people have already heard those jokes. And people laugh the most when the joke really is about the groom they know.

And if you are interested, yes mine went pretty well (yes, I was nervous), people laughed. Yes, I used some of the cliche jokes, but tried to keep it down to a minimum. Unless you're a born speaker, writing a good speech requires a lot of effort, so be prepared to spend way more than just a few hours on it. But if you put some effort into it, it can actually be good fun, so try to enjoy yourself.
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on 26 February 2010
A useful, possibly essential companion to the build up to this seemingly colossal responsibility - I certainly benefitted from this entertaining and practical book. It let's you know very clearly what is expected of the best man and takes in to great consideration the many changes in society over the last few decades that have had an effect on the UK marriage scene in general - and bears in mind that this may differ from the traditional marriage cliche!

Of course the reason most best-men-to-be would be buying this book is for help with the most daunting and nerve-wracking task of writing and eventually performing the speech. I was absolutely bricking it as soon as it sunk in that I would have the responsibility of making a speech. Such high expectations to be funny and have mass appeal, from Grandma to your mates, the pressure seems crushingly scary. At first I was trying to find a way out... could I just ask the groom if I could just not do the speech?!? Of course this was not really an option... so I chose to see it as an oportunity to learn how to do public speaking and make speeches. I started by buying this book.

I found it useful as a starting point, - it gives great starting points for a brainstorming structure...However, the sample speeches at the back are mostly very cheesy, not classy at all... boardering on chavvy. Luckily, I started writing very early and found that the book did influence me to write in a similar style to the sample speeches, that I then evolved into my own style and eventually into a great speech that was very apt for the groom and the wedding.

Due to my fear of speaking in public I actually went to some training sessions with an actress and public speaking trainer. That really really helped and was beyond the scope of the book. The techniques mentioned in the book are all very acurate though.

Even though I was extremely nervous right up until I got up to do the speech, I knew that I'd put in as much preparation as possible. Something happened when I was up there and all the practice paid off. I relaxed into it and connected with the audience and enjoyed it. This book defo helped, but all I can say is, do not copy his speeches, you need to allow time to develop your own. Second of all... practice reading out loud VERY slowly until you are comfortable reading loudly and slowly... and remember... pauses are very powerful... also 6 minutes is perfect time for the speech.I still received many compliments about my speech 6 months later... so I thank this book for helping make it possible!

Good Luck!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2009
There is a lot of rubbish written in Best Man guides, but this book is pretty good. I found that it gave me decent pointers on the speech and it is a good resource to go back to.
Being the best man these days can be quite a significant task to undertake and for many it can be a real challenge. This book covers most of the areas that are expected. Having a resource such as this book to use does help and should make you feel a little more confident that at least you have covered most bases. As for the speech itself, well best of luck, you'll need it!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2001
This is a wonderful book, he writes about the good things to keep and appreciate in this changing world. Poetry is not only one of the most difficult types of creative writing but is also the best to read when well written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 June 2009
I've found this book to be very helpful so far. 1st time being best man so I had no idea what I was supposed to do. It's been very informative - big day hasn't arrived yet but this definitely got the ball rolling and has given me many ideas for the speech; which is the main reason I bought it. The advice is down to earth - explains the traditions but has a contemporary outlook, encouraging you to get creative and personalise your speech. Would definitely recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2015
What can I say, I got exactly what I asked for when I asked for it and it was in great condition with the correct packaging for its size. Couldn't fault it.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2006
This book is absolutely brilliant. The author tells you all you need to know about a best man's duties (and his all-important speech!) in a straightforward and really humorous way. I found it invaluable and cannot recommend it too highly. Thanks, John, as you promised in the blurb of your book, you turned a terrifying prospect into a piece of (wedding) cake!
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