When I laid hands on this book a few weeks ago, I felt slightly deflated because for years I had wanted to write it myself (although in my mind I thought of it as a blog rather than a book).
The Becket list goes through everything in life that most of us find royally annoying, with a fabulous sense of humour. The author, Henry Becket, decided to compile a list of things that could be put right, replaced or destroyed for good to help rid the world of unrighteous anger, provoked by what is actually righteously called “First World Problems”, the kind of stuff that drives us around the bend on a daily basis but that in the big scheme of things, is not really that important.
The book is written as a collection of entries, ordered in alphabetical order, of these things that, whilst essentially trivial, day after day contrive to p*ss us off. From absurd airport security rules (why do I have to take my trainers off in Heathrow but not in Gatwick?) to call centres that probably occupy thousands of commercial buildings, full of people trained to just f*ck you up in every way imaginable. And don’t get me started on the absurdity of “traditions” like ridiculous Christmas jumpers, the many different mobile phone chargers or the headache of email strings.
I’d dare to say that, if you are one of our readers, whatever you’ve ever thought is incredibly annoying, Becket has thought of it too and it is in this book.
One of my favourites must be his take on modern parenting. Absurdities like “everyone is a winner” on sports day – What is that going to teach you in life darling? Sometimes you are just not good enough at something. Full stop. Maybe though, you’ll turn up to be an ace at astrophysics -. Or hyper-parenting in all its forms: Mandarin lessons, piano lessons, mindfulness at dawn, seven hours of tutoring per week… so little Allegra finishes the year ahead of Finlay, from the iceberg house two doors down. Chill for God’s sake! Get a sense of perspective. Otherwise, your kids may end up taking as many drugs as they can possibly get behind the gym of the very expensive boarding school you packed them to the moment they got to a two-figures age. The cherry on the top of this topic is the ridiculousness of some children’s names. Kyrie? Seriously? Apple? Are you for real?
A couple of thousand years of human history hasn’t given you choice enough?– Henry Becket
I could mention many more entries as the book is really hilarious. Like a good book of poetry, you can read in order, or open at random to enjoy just a couple of Becket’s pearls of wisdom. However you do it, that grumpy sod we all carry inside will absolutely love it.
It is also a wonderful form of escapism from what might be perceived as the real issues of the day. After all, there is nothing like a pandemic to make you realise you miss not being able to complain about the price of a G&T in a pub, or about waiting seven minutes for your wine order to arrive in a restaurant.
Clearly, The Becket list is not only essential for your sanity but an important resource for future social historians and a call to action. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”
Published by RedDoor Press. £9.99
Available at all quality bookshops and Amazon.
About the Author:
Born in Bucks in 1953, Becket belongs to that curious and increasingly endangered species that can’t fit into any box you could possibly think of. He has been a Choral Exhibitioner at Cambridge, a Westminster speechwriter, lobbyist, wine merchant and even ad agency MD among many other jobs. He wrote and directed innumerable – and as he refers to them – forgettable TV commercials in a hundred different languages.
He is the proud father of four grown-up children who have given him eight grandchildren so far.
Becket has an absurdly broad range of interests: family, watercolours (not completely incompetent), wine, hillwalking, skiing, sailing (he spent a decade sailing around the Med… as one does), churches, travel, music, ale, the weather, other people, gossip, gardening, food, cooking, history….
His life is split between France (countryside halfway between Bordeaux and la Rochelle) and Hampshire (countryside halfway between Winchester and Salisbury).
Becket has an absurdly broad range of interests.– Julia Pasarón
Words: Julia Pasarón