Skip to content

Emus Can’t Walk Backwards

Another Round of Dubious Pub Facts

Emus Can’t Walk Backwards - book cover

“Ultimate pub quiz ammo.”

The Sun

“Anwood assiduously subverts the novelty-book format with his humour and sincere curiosity.”

The Guardian

Did Ernie Wise really make the first mobile phone call in the UK? Can alligators climb trees? Is a Smurf really three apples tall?

“Pub facts” are the improbable, bizarre and yet somehow convincing claims that are often wheeled out by armchair scientists, amateur lawyers and pub historians. They’ll tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that you can get tonsillitis even if you’ve had your tonsils removed; that it’s illegal to drive in bare feet; and that the White House used to be grey. But is it fact or fabrication?

Emus Can’t Walk Backwards will help you stride confidently through the most treacherous trivia minefield, while providing definitive answers to life’s most pressing concerns. Did Johnny Cash become addicted to painkillers after being attacked by an ostrich? Do ants ever sleep? Are mushrooms and toadstools the same thing?

Refreshingly cynical and engagingly informative, this hilarious follow-up to Bears Can’t Run Downhill clears up the confusion by revealing the outright lies, the muddled misunderstandings and – just occasionally – the astonishing truth.

Want to see what it’s like? View some sample pages (PDF format, 105 kB)
Want an idea of the weird and wonderful stuff it covers? View the index (PDF format, 90 kB)

  • Publication date: Thursday 6 September 2007
  • Published by: Ebury Press, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Formats: Hardback (178 x 126 mm), 256 pages, with excellent illustrations by Sarah Nayler throughout (such as those on this page); and Kindle edition
  • EAN/ISBN-13: 9780091921514 (old ISBN format: 0091921511)

The hardback is available from various resellers on, and other Amazon sites, as well as Abebooks.

A chef about to cook an emu not being able to walk backwards

Here’s a review of Emus Can’t Walk Backwards from 10 November 2007 by Steven Poole, writing in the UK’s Guardian. I was particularly pleased with this at the time, as he seemed to have enjoyed it in the factual yet self-undermining tongue-in-cheek spirit which I intended.

Following on from their mini-review of Bears Can’t Run Downhill the previous year, Zoo magazine gave me another four stars out of five on 7 September 2007. Will I ever reach such dizzying literary heights again?

Illustrations on this page copyright © Sarah Nayler 2007.