diamond geezer

 Monday, November 28, 2005

Almanac
(an annual publication containing tabular information in a particular field or fields arranged according to the calendar of a given year)

Old Moore's Almanac 2006: I love this little two-quid publication, more for the astronomical data in the middle than for the astrological tosh, lucky bingo dates and celebrity horoscopes crammed in elsewhere. Normally I snap up a copy from some newsagent somewhere during the summer, but this year for the first time I've had to send off for my almanac by post. But it's always a fascinating read, not least for the numerous adverts for healing talismans ("attracts divine angelic good fortune to its owner almost instantaneously"), lucky charms ("end loneliness, attract or rekindle love and bring genuine friends into your life"), psychic astrologers ("Michaela will tell you what your future holds") and magic spells ("few are aware of the hidden meaning of hand gestures and their magical significance"). Sadly no lucky Cornish piskeys this year, though. (published by Foulsham, first published 1697)

Whitaker's Almanack 2006: A much more respectable and comprehensive volume, all eminently factual and with an emphasis on current affairs. I remember spending hours in my school library reading through some of the more esoteric chapters in the 1976 Almanac, and I suspect several of the entries won't have changed since then. The latest edition boasts nearly 1400 pages, but I really don't think it's worth forty quid. Thankfully they've put a few sample pages up on the web for us to enjoy free of charge, including 2005 obituaries, 2006 tide tables and (well you never know, it might be useful) distances from London by air. (published by A&C Black, first published 1868)

Schott's Almanac 2006: Not to be outdone (or because he couldn't think up a new idea for a Miscellany), Ben Schott's latest annual publication is his first annual almanac. A fascinating idea, but it's only available in hardback and it costs fifteen quid, so is it worth the money? Ben's kindly put up a few sample pages on his website (for example who wore what at the Oscars, famous guests at Chequers and sporting theme tunes) so you can judge for yourself. Personally I suspect all he's done is to read the press and online news media for the last 12 months, grab all the most interesting lists, surveys and other data and reformat them all into a new typeface... which is the sort of money-spinning idea you wish you'd thought of first. (published by Bloomsbury, first published 2005)

Wisden's Almanac 2006: The indispensible annual guide to the dullest sport in the UK, and almost as thick as the average game is long. The last five years of almanacs are now available to search online (for example, I searched for 'boring' and found five referenced articles). Unfortunately, because Wisden is published in April every year, it's of no use whatsoever as a Christmas gift for the avid cricket fan. (published by John Wisden & Co Ltd, first published 1864)

See also:
Old Farmer's Almanac: The American version of Old Moore's Almanac. (first published 1792)
Jodrell Bank Observatory: Astronomical Almanac: Calculate the position of any astronomical object for any time, date and location on Earth.
Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office: Government suppliers of astronomical data.
Stovold's Mornington Crescent Almanac: An ISIHAC favourite.


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