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The Classic FM Musical Treasury: A curious collection of new meanings for old words
By Tim Lihoreau
192 pages
Published as hardback and e-book, March 2017
Elliott & Thompson Ltd

Tim Lihoreau presents a popular breakfast show on commercial radio: Classic FM’s More Music Breakfast. He has won a variety of awards on both sides of the Atlantic for his radio writing and production. He has also penned eleven books, one of which Modern Phobias has been translated into eleven languages. He obtained a degree in music from the University of Leeds and was a professional pianist before moving into radio. Together with his wife he also runs three amateur choirs in his home village and plays the organ at his local church. With this book The Classic FM Music Treasury he proves that he also has a wonderful sense of humour.

The subtitle of the book – A curious collection of new meanings for old words – perfectly describes what the book is about. According to Lihoreau there are all sorts of people, events and sounds that exist but are not named in the musical world. He thinks we are missing something for not having satisfactory ways of describing certain things, as for example the moment in a musical when the director has insisted his attractive male star sheds some clothes for purely artistic reasons (pg 19, Chapter 1 Performers and Performances). Now, we have words for that: darcy lever! It actually is a place in Bolton. So what Lihoreau has done (extremely successfully, it must be said) was to travel up and down the UK searching for names with “a musical bent; names that cry out for fresh humorously inventive, meanings” as quoted in the book’s press release.

The Classical FM Musical Treasury is structured as a dictionary and divided into ten chapters, each dedicated to a specific section of the music world, such as ‘Choirs and Choral Singing’ (Chapter 2); ‘Opera and Dance’ (Chapter 4) or ‘Composers and Their Works’ (Chapter 7). Additionally, there is a rather funny Introduction, a short section with information about Classical FM and a Word Finder where one can find all the words in the book in alphabetical order. I must say that I absolutely adored this book. It is imaginative, different, brilliantly written, hilarious and intelligent – great fun to read time and time again. I think it will give you many hours of pleasure and laughs. It is particularly useful if you’ve had a bad day at work and feel like cutting the tyres of your boss’s new sports car. It will relax you and shake you with laughter, making you forget the world outside and the idiots who populate many areas of our beautiful blue planet.

The hardcover edition, which I was given to review, is handsomely bound in vivid red with a protective sleeve colourfully decorated with musical themes. For a hardback it is not expensive at 9.99, however if like me you’re not bothered about the lovely touch of paper or don’t have enough place at home for more books in the traditional format, then the Kindle edition is ideal and it costs only 4.74. At the moment there isn’t a paperback edition and no information available as to whether there will be one in the future.

I read this book twice and enjoyed it even more the second time round. The humour is sophisticated, clever and extremely funny – in one word witty. I actually did various Google searches to find out where the places are located, which makes the reading all the more entertaining. Some of my favourites (and I’m listing a very small number otherwise I would probably have to copy and paste the whole book here!) are for example: “ingrave”, which appears to be a road and a hall in Brentwood, is defined as a person who accepts free tickets to a sold-out music event and then declines to go when the night comes round, despite having nothing better to do (pg 117, Chapter 6 Audiences and Listeners) or “ardnaff”, a small place in Scotland – (adjective) descriptive of the sound of some contemporary operas, which exemplify the eternal composer’s dilemma: how to tread the fine line between wanting to shock and wanting one’s music to be loved (pg 77, Chapter 4 Opera and Dance). Another outrageously funny one is “cock alley”, an alley in Chesterfield that in the book describes the Crush Bar at the Royal Opera House, on a night with a high proportion of corporate clients (pg 76, Chapter 4 Opera and Dance). If you have experienced the bar in question on such a night you will understand immediately why this designation is so amusing. And to finish, one that many of us who still drive cars that have a CD player will probably have experienced at one stage or other: “carfury”, in Cornwall, near Penzance, is the small sprite that lives in your car’s CD player and likes to ruin your favourite music at random moments.

To summarise, Tim Lihoreau should be praised for his imaginative humour and for writing this little gem of a book, which is indeed a small treasure, as the title indicates. The Classical FM Musical Treasury has to be one of the funniest, wittiest books I’ve read in recent years and should have a place in any bookworm’s library be it in the traditional sense or digital.

Margarida Mota-Bull
(Margarida writes more than just reviews, check it online at


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