An annual treat is the compilation of unpublished Daily Telegraph readers’ letters.
By Iain Hollingshead
Last Christmas, when we published I Rest My Case…, the third in the bestselling series of unpublished letters to the editor, some people expressed their concerns about the seeming finality of the book’s title. Could an eventful year in which London burned, the Middle East revolted, Prince William wed, bin Laden died, Nick Clegg cried and Silvio Berlusconi bunga bunga-ed be our readers’ last hurrah?
Fie! Our wonderful correspondents, choleric, trenchant, wise, witty, waggish, and often downright outrageous, are made of sterner stuff. We’ve been fortunate in that this year has been no less eventful than last. You might have noticed the Olympics. It has also been the year of Abu Qatada and Andy Murray, hosepipe bans and droughts, Dave and Boris, pasties and jerry cans.
Great events alone do not, of course, make for great correspondence. Only Daily Telegraph letter-writers are capable of merging the weighty, the whimsical and the quotidian to such hilarious advantage. The water companies impose a hosepipe ban; a reader wonders if he can irrigate his lawn by staging a domestic riot and drawing fire from the police’s water cannon. The chief executive of RBS rejects his enormous bonus; a reader writes to say that he doesn’t mind him keeping it, as long as he spends £1,000 replacing his “disgracefully cheapo” pair of hunting boots.
If you look for stereotypes, you will find them. One correspondent admits that, if there were a political party for the Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, she would be one of the first to join. Recurring themes emerge year on year, whether complaints about Murray’s facial hair (Robert Jay QC is a new entry in this category), the proliferation of retired colonels on the letters page, the crossword, the Americanisation of the English language, the BBC, the EU, wind farms or sinking sartorial standards. All are delivered with customary aplomb, not to mention a deliciously, devilishly erudite turn of phrase.
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