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The Thingummy by Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum

01/05/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Thingummy in the USA - or Buy The Thingummy in the UK

author pic

pub: Doubleday/Transworld. 221 page illustrated small hardback. Price: a few pence (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-0-38561-456-6).

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I tend to be a sucker for odd reference books as you never know what trivial bit of information that you might pick up, even two years after its release. The purpose of 'The Thingummy' comes from the title and the generic name we Brits put to anything when the name skips us. That or a whatsit. This book's purpose is to put the name to some general objects around us that we take for granted but can't quite remember their names, thingummy or something. However, this is where the book creates its own problems because everything is based on the name of the object than at a rough guess as to what to look for. I mean, would you find it easier to look something up under, say, 'flower' or 'pistil'? 'Hat or 'zucchetto'? 'Mule' or 'shoe'? 'Maxillary central incisor' or 'teeth'? Even a simple index would have helped around this problem. As a reading book, you're just going to have to hope you can remember the content and where to look or you'll be really stuck as to where to look in the book, even with illustrations.

You see the problem. In many respects, you would probably be better off with a 'Visual Encyclopaedia' which at least works out from the assumption of what you are looking at first under a generic title. Where 'The Thingummy' does better is give some history for each of the one hundred and thirty items listed and often with some other objects names in case you were confusing them with something else, often with an illustration in case there was any doubt. This also makes the book useful in case you want to put a member of the family or friend right about what the name of something is and can show them the relevant page, assuming you can remember and pick it out easily.

I have to confess to knowing some of the items listed and information wise, you will come away informed if you didn't. About the only thing they didn't know relates to the dimple or punt at the base of the bottle. This isn't under 'dimple' or 'bottle' but 'ullage', which is the name of the space in the neck of the bottle not filled with wine. The raised shape is there to collect wine sediment. Not that I'm a wine drinker but I do tend to remember odd facts.

Read with reservation, but be careful of saying you have a thingummy book with the thingummy information in.

GF Willmetts

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