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Spoken and written language is littered with cliches, but there are some usages - smug statements of secondhand opinion, grating nuggets of folk wisdom, toe-curling verbal flourishes of the would-be authoritative - that go beyond the bounds of cliche to enter more desperate linguistic territory. We encounter these verbal horrors every day of our lives - in conversations overheard on tube, train and bus and at suburban dinner parties, in the fictional dialogues of TV drama - and even in the glib formulations of TV sports commentators. They are disparate in nature - but have one thing in common: they all represent desperate attempts on the part of the speaker to persuade the listener that certainty of language mirrors certainty of thought and intellect, to project a verbal front of decidedness, authority and knowledge.Willie Donaldson has turned his finely tuned satirical ear to these verbal inanities to create a unique, offbeat and entirely hilarious dictionary of cringemaking Islingtonian phrasemaking. But the twist is this: lurking behind the A-Z facade is a dramatis personae of gabbling middle-class archetypes, including the Simon of the title - a Canonbury-based wine importer - and his overwrought partner, Susan, a university academic. Their excruciating dialogues - conversational nightmares of pat phrases, glib opinion and conjugal bitchiness played out in the fictional context of a Barnsbury tapas bar named the Goya - are brilliantly captured by the author, and make this most individual of books a candidate for humour title of the year.