Royalty Inc. by Stephen Bates (Aurum Press, £20) is a superb account of how ‘the Firm’ (Windsors rather than Krays) became ‘Britain’s best-known brand’. Bates is a veteran royal journalist, though much of his career was on the Guardian, which wouldn’t let him use that title. He reveals that the palace’s own term for their gameplan is the ‘Marmite jar strategy’: pretend you’re a timeless and static part of the national furniture, while subtly and constantly changing to remain relevant.
Simon Hughes’s Who Wants to be a Batsman? (Simon & Schuster, £18.99) brilliantly analyses this fragile creature. Nasser Hussain’s girlfriend accidentally records Neighbours over his coaching tape, Alastair Cook has to have the volume of his car stereo on an even number, while Ricky Ponting’s advice on knowing your limitations applies to us all, cricketers or not: ‘Swim between the flags.’