Saturday 19 July 2014

21st Century Dodos: A Collection of Endangered Objects (and Other Stuff) by Steve Stack

A fond farewell to the many inanimate objects, cultural icons and general stuff around us that find themselves on the verge of extinction. 
We’ve all heard of the list of endangered animals, but no one has ever pulled together a list of endangered inanimate objects. Until now, that is. 
Steve Stack has catalogued well over one hundred objects, traditions, cultural icons and, well, other stuff that is at risk of extinction. Some of them have vanished already. 
Cassette tapes, rotary dial phones, half-day closing, milk bottle deliveries, Concorde, handwritten letters, typewriters, countries that no longer exist, white dog poo… all these and many more are big a fond farewell in this nostalgic, and sometimes irreverent, trip down memory lane.

21st Century Dodos was released in paperback by The Friday Project on 16 June 2014. The hardback was published in 2011, and this new paperback edition features an additional chapter that is dedicated to dodos that readers of the hardback have sent in to the author.

How can it be so hard to review a book that had me sighing and nodding in agreement all the way through? A book that started so many conversations in this house .... "Oh, do you remember ......";   "bloody hell, I've not thought of those for years .....";   "now I'm craving ....."

This is not a story, it's not fiction, nor is it a history book ~ well, I suppose it is in a way.  I defy anyone over the age of 35 to read this without exclaiming in joy at least ten times throughout.

I remember EVERYTHING in this book - every single thing. The shops on the High Street, and not just Woolworths, but Athena and Our Price and C&A (did every C&A smell a bit funny, or was that just the Lincoln branch?).  I remember the frustration of arriving in town at 2pm on Wednesday and remembering that it's bloody HALF DAY CLOSING.

Black Jacks and Fruit Salad chews at half a penny each; Spangles and sweet cigarettes; reading Mandy comic and always having a 2p coin so that we could ring Dial-a-Disc from the red telephone box.

21st Century Dodos brings back so many memories, and yes, I do look back fondly and it's easy to forget that this was mainly the 70s - the decade of very bad fashion mistakes, and terrible disco pants and rock stars who wore platform boots and glittery eyeshadow (and that was the men).

This is perfect book for one of those evenings or summer afternoon when you get all of your friends round, down a few bottles and start reminiscing about the 'good old days'. It will spark so many memories, so many conversations and I'd guess there would be a fair few arguments too.

This is funny and charming and will make you crave things that you'd not thought about in years. The writing is great, not stuffy or text-book like - it's easy and friendly and I loved it.  I loved every page.

Huge thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Steve Stack is the pseudonym of a blogger and sometimes journalist. He is the author of one previous book, It Is Just You, Everything's Not Shit which can probably still be found in bargain bookshops and Poundland if you wanted to add it to your toilet library. It is also available as a specially priced (i.e. very cheap) ebook if you are all very modern and own one of those new fangled devices.

If you want to contact Steve Stack, you can drop him a line at 

You can also pay a visit to his blog at Me and My Big Mouth 

Facebook :  21st Century Dodos
Twitter : @dodoflip

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  1. thanks Anne! Just the thing to take with us to France on our September holiday as with 9 people to keep happy, this is just the thing in case of a wet afternoon!

  2. We still have half day closing! Lol. What did happen to white dog poo? ☺

  3. This is such a very nice blog & informative also .Thanks for sharing .You can find more short world history book.

  4. Hi, I'm new to your lovely blog - saw your comment on your review on Amazon of Jacqueline Winsprear's wonderful book and just had to find your blog. What a great book that is, but I do think it's more social history written as a novel, rather than a novel set during WW1, but nonetheless, a remarkable book, one of the best of the WW1 novels I've read this year.
    Now to this book - 21st Century Dodos - which sounds right up my street. And yes, some shops had a smell all of their own, 'funny' or not. I remember the W H Smith in Exeter always smelt like those bubble tubs we had as children - and you could always tell which of the department stores you were in, the cheap one with lino on the ground floor, or the up-market one, carpeted on all floors with the wonderful perfumery as you walked in ...
    Margaret P

  5. Just a PS ... things long gone that I remember: brown paper carrier bags with string for handles; Cyclax Skin Soap in it's elegant purple livery; Revlon Aquamarine lotion; Rinso washing powder; Huntley & Palmer Breakfast Biscuits (lovely with a smear of butter and sprinkling of salt); chiffon scarves; Refreshers; Beechnut chewing gum; Amami setting lotion and, for men, Erasmic shaving sticks; Max Factor Pan Stick ... no doubt more will come to me as I read this book.
    Margaret P

  6. OH dear, another PS ... I was brought up on a newsagent's shop so I can recall so many publications now long gone: The Daily Herald, The Daily Sketch, Tit-Bits, Reveille, Woman's Mirror, Everybody's, Illustrated, Picture Post, Woman's Day, Woman's Realm, Everywoman, Home Notes, Home Chat (those two definitely déclassé!) The Children's Newspaper, Girl, School Friend, Girl's Crystal, Young Elizabethan, and the lovely teenage magazine which pre-dates all others, Honey, and then the 1960s avant garde magazine, Nova.
    Margaret P

  7. Hi Margaret. Welcome to my blog, it's great to read your comments. Refreshers! I love them and you can still buy them - I often buy myself a tube or two! Best wishes, Anne x

  8. Ooh, I shall have to look out for Refreshers - they used to fizz on the tongue, I loved 'em!
    I have had a look at this book on Amazon but I think the things which are dodos to this author are fairly new items to me; my dodos are much older as I've mentioned above and I could add to the list, too ... knicker elastic which was sold on 'cards' in our shop, so Mum used to unravel a yard at a time for customers; hair slides; hair nets, which a lot of women wore in the 1950s, trying to keep their weekly 'set' in place for the whole week - fewer women washed their own hair in the days when few had proper bathrooms); Peggy Sage nail varhish; Dorothy Grey perfume; Fields French Pink and Fields French Moss talcum powder; Goya perfumes; Pond's Vanishing Cream (I couldn't work out why it was still there if it was supposed to vanish!); Fry's Five Boys chocolate; Callard & Bowser butterscotch; Craven A, Piccadilly, Kensitas, Du Maurier, Guards (all cigarettes - I never smoked, though; thought it a filthy habit even as a child); humming tops for children; navy blue knickers for school (we did gym in those, games we changed into shorts); white five pound notes; gill bottles of milk in school; tracing paper; Bronco hard toilet paper (eek!) ... oh, so many things, all gone but not forgotten (by me, anyway.)
    Margaret P
    PS I shall look in again soon!