After graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge with a degree in Classics, I started my working career as an audit assistant. However, I soon found the world of bean-counting too racy for his taste and retreated to the calmer pastures of the insurance industry. I had a successful business career, during the course of which I co-authored two books on public sector risk management, which were adopted by the Institute of Risk Management as their standard text books.
Since retiring, I have had the opportunity to develop his interests, mainly reading, writing and thinking or, as my wife puts it, “locking myself away in my office for a few hours a day”. In particular, I have been blogging and writing in a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent style about the quirks, idiocies and idiosyncrasies of life, both modern and ancient.
Since leaving the insurance industry behind I have written and published five books, Fifty Clever Bastards, Fifty Curious Questions, Fifty Scams and Hoaxes, The Fickle Finger: An Inventor's Lot, and More Curious Questions, all of which are still available from all good book retailers and high-class charity shops.
Fifty Curious Questions was a category finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018 and was serialised by Country Life magazine’s social media platform. Since then I have contributed regularly to their Curious Questions section which appears every Saturday. Fifty Scams and Hoaxes generated some favourable media attention and I appeared on the Matthew Wright show on talkRADIO and the David Jemitus show on Brooklands Radio, talking about the book.
Fifty Scams and Hoaxes
Fifty Scams and Hoaxes is a light-hearted investigation into some of the worst examples of financial skulduggery, medical quackery and ingenious hoaxing from history. Along the way we will come across a Pope advocating a drink based on cocaine, a pill to avoid hangovers, a woman who gave birth to rabbits, the man who broke the bank twice, the first examples of insurance fraud and scam emails and much more.
Author Martin Fone explores the psychology and methodology deployed by the scammers and shows what can happen when avarice preys on credulity and gullibility. The key characteristics he unearths amongst his despicable gallery of scammers includes; incredible claims, creative use of advertising, playing on people’s fears and aspirations, unscrupulous business practices and, when it all goes wrong as it often does, a propensity to flee the scene and leave others to pick up the pieces.
Well-paced, fascinating, entertaining and informative, this book will delight the general reader as well as providing food for thought for the more serious student of the foibles of human nature.
As featured on the Matthew Wright show on talkRADIO and Surrey Life.
The Matthew Wright Afternoon Show, talkRADIO, 16th October 2018
The David Jemitus Show, Brooklands Radio, 8th February 2019
Fifty Curious Questions
In Fifty Curious Questions we will explore how our body works: why we blush, why we feel colder when we step out of the shower, and whether there is a finite limit to how long our hair will grow. We will perfect some essential life skills such as how to spot a liar, handle a hangover, rid ourselves of hiccups, and construct the perfect cream scone. There are some deep existential questions to answer, like how long is a generation and whether we are only six feet away from a rat. And then there are some really maddening questions like, Why do we still use a QWERTY keyboard? and Why do the British persist in driving on the left hand side of the road? All will be revealed inside these pages.
We also consider some left-field questions like: Do we lose weight when we fart? Do elephants take longer to urinate than horses? and When you are caught in the rain, do you get wetter if you run or walk to your destination? Life would be all the poorer without the answers to questions like these.
Serialised by Country Life Online in 2018.
A category finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Award, 2018.
Fifty Clever Bastards
The road to becoming a successful inventor is not an easy one. Paved with difficulties, roadblocks and sometimes sheer, back-to-the-drawing-board failure, the challenging journey has meant that plenty of geniuses have been lost to history and never given the credit they deserved for creating some of the most invaluable items of our time.
However, over the course of Fifty Clever Bastards these same forgotten inventors and their unbelievable stories are about to be inducted into our illustrious Hall of Fame. Designed to celebrate all those who fell by the wayside, Fifty Clever Bastards comes to understand just what happened to so many of people behind the things we take for granted.
Covering their incredible tales, the book details the unlucky inventors that were killed by their own inventions, debased by fraud or those who mysteriously took their ideas to the grave. Including aviators from the first millennium CE, pioneers of medicine and science and individuals who took their zeal to learn just a bit too far, Fifty Clever Bastards promises to shine a light on all of the crazy, wonderful inventors that history forgot.
Responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs the world has ever seen (and for appliances we use every single day), thanks to Martin Fone’s book, Fifty Clever Bastards, some of the greatest geniuses of our time have finally been given their due.
The Fickle Finger: An Inventor's Lot
Success is a slippery, fickle thing. How much is down to luck, being in the right place at the right time or knowing the right people, and how much to innate talent? Why are some people less successful than others? Taking as its frame of reference the stories of fifty inventors who lost out on the fame that their genius might otherwise have merited, The Fickle Finger examines some of the reasons why they have languished in obscurity for so long. It is a tale of prejudice, racial and sexual, societal pressures, deficiencies in the patent system, gross errors of judgment, and sheer bad luck. The pressures of battling the system sometimes led to madness, penury and even suicide.
And along the way, there will be some surprises. Were the Wright Brothers really the first men to fly in a powered machine? Did Galileo really invent the telescope? Has a US President held a patent? How did Albert Einstein hope to improve upon the fridge? Why was Benjamin T Franklin denied a patent? Who gave away their invention for a lifetime’s supply of chocolate?
The answers to these questions and much more are to be found within this book. A lively, entertaining and light-hearted investigation into the components of success, it will give you plenty of food for thought.
More Curious Questions
Audio Interview Links
Frank Morano 8/11/21
Some of us are blessed, or perhaps cursed, with an enquiring mind. We have not lost that child-like thirst for knowledge. As Einstein wrote, “people like you and me never grow old. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born”. This book is designed to appeal to Peter Pans, those of us who share this sense of wonder.
Our focus will be on quotidian concerns, queries that add a little colour and understanding to our everyday lives, providing tidbits of information we can sprinkle liberally into our conversations at the bar or the dinner table. There is a glow of satisfaction to be had in setting the record straight and, at the same time, proving how smart you are.
More Curious Questions, a sequel to the Eric Hoffer Book Award category finalist, Fifty Curious Questions, looks at one hundred questions across a wide range of topics including nature, natural phenomena, dates and customs, food and drink, and life’s little mysteries.
Along the way we will be looking at what we used before toilet paper, how we will greet each other in a post-Covid-19 world, why queues snake, why we cannot resist puppy-dog eyes, how a bumblebee flies, how fast snowflakes travel, what was on the menu of London’s first Indian restaurant, why we can see the moon during the day, and much, much more.
Running through the book are more general themes, such as the way behavioural psychology is being used to change our habits, how the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in keeping pets, solving jigsaw puzzles, sorting out lofts, and cardboard boxes, and how scientific experiments, some weird and others just bizarre, have helped push out the boundaries of human knowledge.
Within the pages, figures such as Pliny the Elder, Mark Twain, and the redoubtable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu will pop up with astonishing regularity.
More Curious Questions is a smorgasbord of facts and trivia, written in a light-hearted and informative style. The book is designed to be either devoured in one sitting or to be dipped in and out of. The choice is yours.