You do(n’t) want to know how Sweden and Russia almost came to blows over herring farts

If you’re on Twitter, you almost certainly know who James Felton is. As @JimMFelton, his hilariously withering takes on topical issues – not to mention a penchant for milk coke – have earned him more than 300,000 followers who regularly send his tweets viral.

Like these.

You may also have read one of his best-selling books – either 52 Times Britain was a Bellend or Sunburn: The unofficial history of the Sun newspaper in 99 headlines, both of which showcase his uncanny knack of making serious points whilst teasing an abundance of laughs from the reader.

The same can be said of his new book, You Don’t Want to Know: The grisly, jaw-dropping and most macabre moments from history, nature and beyond

It might say you don’t want to know, but you really do. Trust us on this.

Chapters include the wild tales of –

How the first mooning left thousands dead, which is a real bummer

The very rich man who managed to bankrupt cities just by visiting them, and it wasn’t Boris Johnson

How dogs have a sometimes fatal attraction to *checks notes* mink anus

There’s also a fact check of Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’, which is ra-ra-radically different to the lyrics.

As you might imagine, the research process is a story in itself. James told us

You basically spend a bunch of time googling the most horrendous things you can think of, then clicking on the safest links you can find.

Then you… go down all the rabbit-holes of depravity you can find on Reddit etc.

My targeted ads are now basically the same thing I’d imagine would be recommended to Dexter or Ted Bundy.

Also, most of my research took place in books. Try and trace that, FBI.

As a taster, here’s an abridged version of the chapter on how Sweden could have caused a diplomatic incident – or worse – because of herring farts. Researching it may not have set the FBI on his heels, but we can’t necessarily say the same about Russia’s FSB.

‘In 1981, a Soviet submarine ran aground just 6.2 miles from a Swedish naval base, beaching itself like a whale you really don’t want to explode. The Soviets claimed that they were forced into Swedish territory by severe distress, and later navigation errors, an excuse so bad they may as well have rummaged around in their backpack saying “I’m sure my map’s in here somewhere”.

It didn’t help calm things down when Swedish officials secretly measured for radioactive materials, and detected what they were 90 percent sure was a shitload of uranium-23 inside the sub, indicating that it may be nuclear armed.

After interrogating the captain, the submarine was returned to international waters with a tugboat. No record survives of the awkward “So, any holidays planned or are you too busy thinking of nuking the shit out of us?” chit chat that took place in the cab whilst the sub was being towed.

The Swedish government remained alert following the incident, convinced that Russian subs – and not without good reason – could still be operating near their territory. This is when they started to pick up elusive underwater signals and sounds, seemingly confirming they were right.