Always read the label


On first glance, this looks quite an ordinary sort of book.  The cover promises some kind of humour, maybe a collection of jokey anecdotes, but clearly something amusing to pass an idle hour or two with.

 On a closer look, there is perhaps a hint of some kind of spoof.  W.W. Jacobs was a well-known writer of short stories, many of them based on dockyard characters.  He was born in Wapping and his father was a dockyard worker, which no doubt led to a certain amount of inspiration for his tales about Ginger Dick, Sam Small, and Peter Russett, a trio of rather feckless and credulous sailors.

 Obviously, the cover illustrates one of these wharf-side characters, apparently having a good laugh at the contents of the book in his hand.  But why is it described as “not” by W.W. Jacobs?  A parody of his works then, perhaps?  Surely an entertaining read, anyway.

 So, pity the poor reader, who shells out his sixpence and then opens his purchase to find this:


Yes, an entire volume of blank pages, each with a hole cut in the centre to reveal a skein of high quality wool glued to the final page.  An attached label repeats the message on the cover.  So, who is the joke on now?

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