Amazon no. 1 author and comedian Richard O. Smith is once again sticking his fork of curiosity into the live toaster of opportunity. Yes, that is quite dangerous. But he fears no extended metaphor. Then one man scrapes the burnt bits of disappointment off the dry toast of life.
Once described as "a jam-packed jamboree of jollity" by TV's Dr Lucy Worsley, Smith's latest comic essays build upon the success of his previous book Oxford Examined: Town & Clown ("An outstanding comic writer" - Countdown's Susie Dent).
Oxford hums with history and humour. So inevitably many of these hilarious - but unflinchingly truthful - short stories occur around his home city. They look at Oxford topics as diverse as participating in a clinical trial, the dangers of cycling and bizarre University rituals. Yet The Best Ladled Pans of Rice and Penne is also written for a national (and international... let's dream big) audience. Consequently the stories look at themes that bind us all: the universality of dealing with a loved one's illness, the death of a parent, meeting celebrities, rumbling illicit lovers, encountering daily humiliation, dealing with success and its constant pushy companion failure, and queuing to meet a more successful bestselling author who turns out to be a, er, dog. Okay, so it's mainly about encountering humiliation.