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Yours insincerely. New book does for the Christmas newsletter what '1066 And All That' did for Simon

Added: (Sat Nov 24 2007)

Pressbox (Press Release) - 'Noel & Ellen’s Strange & Wonderful History of the Dreaded Christmas Newsletter' by Noel Turner (ISBN 978-0-9550751-9-3, HB, £9.99).

Request your review copy now by e-mailing info@oranapublishing.com or ring 0845 257 1168

* It’s that time of year again …

You’re beginning to think about all those Christmas cards you feel obliged to write. Should you break a habit of a lifetime and send them early for a change? But what if you get one from someone you’ve forgotten? Will they notice if you send out theirs after everyone else’s? No. Better to leave them for a bit, just to be sure.

And suddenly, it’s all a rush. There’s hardly time to scribble your name on the bottom of each one, let alone a personal message. So you make a New Year’s resolution to drop them all a line, as soon as possible, and do better next year.

Of course, if you’re well organised you have a Christmas card list. It has everyone’s name and details, and whether or not they sent you a card last year.

Really clever sorts know how to print out the addresses onto sticky labels. Their Christmases are so well organised that they hardly have to care at all!

If you don’t send them, then perhaps you receive them: those round robins from people who think so much of you that you’ve become nothing more than a name on their ever-expanding mailing list. Noel Turner hates them.

* Introducing 'Noel & Ellen’s Strange & Wonderful History of the Dreaded Christmas Newsletter' by Noel Turner

‘They are the very antithesis of what good letter writing ought to be’, insists the author. ‘How can a person who sends you a newsletter possibly be caring about whether you are well, what you have been doing, or what you might be thinking? I was told recently of someone receiving a letter like this from a friend whose husband had just died. The friend had already prepared their Christmas letter as a letter from both of them, and decided to send it out anyway, just as it was!’

Undoubtedly a book to be cherished by those who rightly despise the self-important Christmas newsletters sent out by their friends and relations, and who haven't the courage to tell them, but who would rather drop this book into their stocking and leave them to get the point (or not!).

St. Paul’s long-lost Epistle to the Britons, William the Conqueror’s priceless Coronation Day broadcast, and a round robin from Robin Hood himself, sit here beside the famed Six Christmas newsletters of Henry VIII, while Leonardo da Vinci offers his own unique insight into the true meaning of his Last Supper.

* The Christmas round robin to beat all Christmas round robins

In this parody, Noel and Ellen spend their year supposedly researching the history of Christmas newsletters from famous people through the Ages and present the results in their own end of year round robin. The over-the-top linking pieces are apparently written by Ellen (we all know men don’t write letters at all, these days, let alone Christmas newsletters), and in the third person, of course.

A secondary theme is that of Christmas itself, as we know it today. Some of the figures chosen were important in the establishment of Christmas as a date in the calendar, as well as some of its traditions. The true history is very revealing, and the irreverence, here, is founded on a firm base, which will be recognizable to those who have taken Richard Dawkins’ 'The God Delusion' to be their Christmas message. Readers of Dan Brown’s 'The Da Vinci Code' will appreciate some further, unexpected evidence for their conspiracy theories.

A full list of letters follows this press release.

* More from the author …

‘I have imagined a fictional Noel and Ellen scouring the earth for Christmas newsletters from famous figures throughout history’, explains Noel Turner.

Noel’s wife, Ellen, is actually wholly innocent of the words being put into her mouth, or into her pen, or her computer. ‘It is usually the lady of the house who writes these sorts of letters’, comments Noel, ‘and she does it on behalf of both herself and her husband, often referring to herself in the third person, or using a curious pluralised first person, like the royal ‘we’. So I
wrote it as if from Ellen, although the real Ellen wouldn’t dream of treating Christmas in such an impersonal way.’

Noel Turner had to do plenty of research for the book. It is not just a parody of round robins, but also a surprising history of Christmas itself. ‘It is rather odd trying to imagine yourself writing a Christmas newsletter from a figure like the Emperor Constantine, who is absolutely key to the creation of Christmas, but really has no idea when Christmas actually is, nor even
what year it is, in the same sense that we do today. So how does one date the letter, for example?’

Noel, who lives on the Isle of Wight, likes to think of himself as a bit of a polymath, after the fashion of Stephen Fry: ‘I love QI, as well as all kinds of quizzes and games’, he muses. Noel is an ‘expert’ Scrabble player, which is something equivalent to a chess master. He helps run Newport Scrabble Club, and organises annual Scrabble tournaments on the Island which have attracted players from as far away as Australia.

‘History – not science – is my favourite subject in Trivial Pursuit’, says Noel, a radar design engineer by day. ‘I would love to emulate Stephen in captaining a 'University Challenge' team. We recently tried entering a team of ‘Boffins’ for the ‘Professionals’ version, but there were so many applicants we just missed out on being on the programme.’

For now Noel will have to make do with his past successes on TV quiz shows. He won 'The Weakest Link', one of the few feats that Fry has not yet achieved, and early this year was set up by Channel 4’s 'Balls of Steel' programme to get a general knowledge hammering from the Cheeky Girls. ‘They were getting their answers via earpieces that I couldn’t see’, promises the author. ‘I knew something was up when they asked me what was pi to 6 decimal places. I failed at 5, but the Cheeky Girls came out with 8!’

* Further information

'Noel & Ellen’s Strange & Wonderful History of the Dreaded Christmas Newsletter' by Noel Turner (ISBN 978-0-9550751-9-3, HB, £9.99) is published 19 November by Orana Publishing.

To request your free review copy please e-mail info@oranapublishing.com or call 0845 257 1168.

* About the author

Noel Turner has a Master of Arts degree from Merton College, Oxford. Noel’s hobbies include reading (especially anything historical), writing, playing Scrabble and doing quizzes. He is Scrabble’s version of a chess master, and what Hastings is to chess, Noel has made Ryde to the world (and it is a world) of Scrabble. It was Scrabble that introduced Noel to TV quiz shows. He has been a losing semi-finalist on Channel 4’s 'Countdown', has sat in 'Mastermind’s' famous black chair, won Channel 5’s 'Brainteaser', and managed NOT to be the weakest link, walking away with £3840 for the
privilege of having his (allegedly not obvious) sexual prowess belittled.
Most of the winnings from 'The Weakest Link' have been spent trying to get on to 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?', but – so far – the closest he’s got is being one of the (unused) ‘phone-afriends’ of a £125,000 winner. (He is not bitter.)

* About Orana Publishing

Orana focuses primarily on non-fiction work, especially biographies and real-life stories, as well as self-help and humour. At Orana we realise that every book is different, and requires a different approach to make it a success for us, our authors and their readers. We think that variety really is the spice of life, and prefer strength through diversity, to strength in mere numbers. As a result, we seek to work with a diverse range of people to publish compelling works in different genres. We know what sells books and we do it well. We're experts in constructing marketing campaigns that get people talking about our authors and their books. Stay tuned for the 2008 launch of our forthcoming imprints for fiction, and other innovative projects.
www.oranapublishing.com

* List of letters from ‘Noel & Ellen’s Strange & Wonderful History of the Dreaded Christmas Newsletter’ by Noel Turner

- ‘The Very First Christmas Newsletter’, as written by the Innkeeper of the Inn where Mary and Joseph stayed and where Jesus was born. It makes the point that being the new Messiah was not so uncommon a claim at the time
- ‘The Second Christmas Newsletter’. St Paul’s Epistle to the Britons, had he been able to address them today
- ’The Emperor Constantine’, a seasonal Message. Constantine bemoans the
argumentative Christians who he has elevated to ‘Top Religion’. As his anger rises his use of well known Latin phrases becomes more and more unreliable
- ‘Dionysius Exiguus – A Dated Newsletter’. The monk who first reckoned the date of Jesus’ birth, explains his reliance on the dates of Jesus’ descendents following the escape to France a la the Da Vinci Code
- ‘The Venerable Bede – A Christmas Footnote’. Bede explains his vulgarizing of the Bible with some examples of his translation into common English (i.e. Geordie). Bede was also the inventor of footnotes
- ‘William & Harry – A Tale of Two Christmas Messages’. William the Conqueror and Harold expound upon their different views of the year 1066 and what it has done for them
- ‘Robin Hood – The Original Christmas Round Robin’. Robin circulates his Merrie Men in Olde Englishe, with more unnecessary ‘e’s than you would find in a Scrabble set
- ‘William Caxton – The First Printed Newsletter’. Caxton gets his first John Bull printing set for Christmas and can’t wait to use it
- ‘Richard III – A Newsletter in 5 Acts’. ‘Now is the winter of our first Christmas…’ A previously undiscovered draft of possibly Shakespearean origin
- ‘Leonardo da Vinci – A Coded Christmas Message’. Leonardo explains the true meaning of The Last Supper. One to make Dan Brown wince
- ‘The Six Christmas Newsletters of Henry VIII’. Henry descends into despair as his marriages go from bad to worse
- ‘Oliver Cromwell – A Newsletter in Rhyme’. At a time when political dissent was most usually found in nursery rhymes, the man who banned Christmas carols gets his message across
- ‘Samuel Pepys - 1666. Nothing Much Happened’. In denial, Pepys leaves us no record of how it was he who started the Great Fire of London, during a fling with the girl from the bakery.
- ‘Alexander Selkirk. A Christmas Message in a Bottle’. Wish you were here? Not likely! Just how unhappy was the original Robinson Crusoe in his South Seas island isolation?
- ‘Captain Cook. A Yuletide Log from the Other Side of The World’. Boldly going. The creators of Star Trek borrowed the expression and nearly borrowed the name. What else did they use?
- ‘George W. The State of the President’. Our own George W is a great admirer of the first George W. So which one wrote this?
- ‘Lewis Carroll. A Nonsensical Christmas poem’. ‘Beware the Chrimblestocky, my girl...’, and the dangers of leaving the biggest present to last.
- ‘Ernest Rutherford. Christmas Newsletter or Scientific Paper?’ That favourite refuge of all scientists; the so called ‘passive’ tense. Just how detached can a person be from their nearest and dearest?
- ‘Leon Trotsky. An Unexpected Confession’. Edited out of photographs. Deleted from History. Has someone tampered with Trotsky's Christmas message from 1917?
- ‘Private Tommy Atkins – A Letter from the Front’. A ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ moment. More poignant than funny. Private Tommy Atkins would dearly like still to have so many friends that he can’t write to them all individually. If this book has a moral core, this is where it is to be found
- ‘From Admiral Doenitz – An Enigmatic Christmas Newsletter’. A puzzle to do. Admiral Doenitz sends his Christmas newsletter 1942 in the ‘Enigma’ Code.

Submitted by:Ben Bradfield
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