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MAIL OBSESSION: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode
Bibliophile price: £6.00
When Mark Mason decided to visit all the 124 British postcode areas and bring back at least one fascinating fact from each of them, he embarked on a project that appeals to the inner nerd in everybody. Starting at the country's major artery, the M1, he idles his way through villages and cities, always on the lookout for the bizarre or curious detail, particularly those related to the postal services. The IP postcode (Ipswich) yields Britain's smallest pub, The Nutshell, in Bury St Edmunds, measuring just 15 feet by seven. St Albans (AL) was the home of Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury, Britain's 19th century Prime Minister who gave his name to the expression "Bob's your uncle" because he engineered lucrative jobs for so many of his nephews and other relations. Batman's home city of Gotham is named after a tiny hamlet in Nottinghamshire (NG), and moving over to the west side of the country, the numbering of the modern dartboard was created at Bury in Lancashire (BL, the Bolton postcode). Leeds (LS) was the home town of Arthur Wood, composer of the Archers' theme tune, which he named after the nearby village of Barwick-in-Elmet, and the version launched on the programme in 1950 was produced by George Martin before he leapt to even greater fame as the Beatles' producer. A beguiling read for everyone who enjoys serendipity. 272pp.

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