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John O'Farrell - book author

John O'Farrell is the author of four novels: The Man Who Forgot His Wife, May Contain Nuts, This Is Your Life and The Best a Man Can Get. His novels have been translated into over twenty languages and have been adapted for radio and television. 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 a political memoir, Things Can Only Get Better and three collections of his column in The Guardian. A former comedy scriptwriter for such productions as Spitting Image, Room 101, Murder Most Horrid and Chicken Run, he is founder of the satirical website NewsBiscuit and can occasionally be spotted on such TV programmes as Grumpy Old Men, Question Time and Have I Got News for You.

John O'Farrell is the author of books: The Best A Man Can Get, An Utterly Impartial History of Britain or 2000 Years of Upper Class Idiots In Charge, The Man Who Forgot His Wife, May Contain Nuts, Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, 1979-1997, This Is Your Life, An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain: or Sixty Years of Making the Same Stupid Mistakes as Always, Things Can Only Get Worse?: Twenty Confusing Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line, There's Only Two David Beckhams

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Author Books

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01
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.
02
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 descendants 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 a hilarious, informative and cantankerous journey through Britain' fascinating and bizarre history. It is as entertaining as a witch burning, and a lot more laughs.
03
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.
04
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...
05
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.
07
Informs and elucidates the bizarre events, ridiculous characters and stupid decisions that have shaped Britain's story since 1945.
08
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.
09
'Sometimes you hear people say "Oh I had a nightmare journey on the tube" and you understand that their commute home on the London Underground was more unpleasant than usual. We don't take the word 'nightmare' to mean that in the middle of a packed carriage they literally realised that they were wearing their pyjamas and then felt their teeth crumbling as their childhood maths teacher stood before them pointing and laughing, only it wasn't exactly the Tube because it was also the kitchen.'

A Tube train is stuck underground because the economy above has collapsed. How has this happened and how will the passengers get out? Will they have to break the rules of Underground etiquette and actually speak to each other? In John O'Farrell's caustically funny short story, nothing is certain.

The city is filled with stories. In twelve books, twelve writers tell their tales of London life, each inspired by a different Underground line. Some are personal, some are polemical; every one is unique.

John O'Farrell, author of The Man Who Forgot His Wife, An Utterly Impartial History of Britain and Things Can Only Get Better, turns his comedic genius to the problem of capitalism, encapsulated in a Tube train full of passengers stuck underground – part of a series of twelve books tied to the twelve lines of the London Underground, as TfL celebrates 150 years of the Tube with Penguin.
10
Ever wasted hours debating your ‘All Time England XI’?
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...