Return to 'Proverbs' news and reviews page.

From Crop Protection: Elseveier.

Sir Colin Spedding, The Second Mouse Gets The Cheese, Proverbs and Their Uses, Rothay House, Eastrea, Cambs. UK, ISBN 0-9543595-4-2 (hardback: £14.95), ISBN 0-9543595-5-0 (paperback: £9.95), 2005, 64pp with illustrations.

Sir Colin Spedding has been giving talks and lectures for over forty years with each one enlivened by a proverb. For those of us who have heard him speak and chuckled at his witty sense of humour and his proverbs, this book is a welcome addition to the bookshelf. It is not a book that merely lists proverbs but one that relates them to their potential usage as tools for speakers. There are 32 sections which encompass different areas like Communication, Power and Influence, Patience, Change , The Future, fashion Wisdom and Proverbs and Agriculture. It is book that can be enjoyed by random selection of subjects and the Preface sets the scene very nicely.

Sir Colin defines proverbs as ‘statements that embody an important truth and which reveal it memorably’. As he so wisely says they are an ‘attractive, often humorous way of making a point and are less inclined to give offence’. He reminds us that ‘ there are few occasions when speaking at meetings or chairing them, when humour is not helpful and welcome’. Proverbs are ‘impersonal and thus avoid giving offence’ and they are ‘unique in being repeatable’. Throughout this book the wit and wisdom of Sir Colin shines through and it is a very enjoyable read and he lives up to his reputation as a laughing agricultural scientist. In the difficult times which we all have in our lives a sense of humour is a resilient and trustworthy attribute to possess and this book will help to give a perspective when laughter is often not on the agenda.

My criticism is the illustrations which have been drawn by the author. He points out that trying to draw a proverb forces one to understand it better but I would have preferred a few more proverbs in place of the pictures. The section on Proverbs and Agriculture is limited but there are lots of examples of agriculture and its value as a source of wisdom and humour in other sections of the book . In every other respect this book can be recommended as a source of useful sayings and reminders of how to ensure your audience listens and laughs whilst learning. It should be on the desk of all of us preparing talks as a helpful guide to how to do it better.

I close with a proverb from the book. ‘Start of every day with a smile and so get it over with’

R G Turner, ROMADEST Associates, Suffolk.

Copies of The second mouse gets the cheese: proverbs and their uses, can be obtained from Rothay House, Mayfield Road, Eastrea, Cambridge PE7 2AY.

Order on the internet at - price £14.95 (hardback), £9.95 (paperback). UK postage and packing £1.