Book review: I Rest My Case…Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph, Edited by Iain Hollingshead

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‘SIR - It is a pity Osama bin Laden was not taken alive. He could have been sentenced to go through airport security for the rest of his life.’

No matter how grim 2011 has been for some parts of the media, the faithful letter-writers of the Daily Telegraph have been coming up trumps ... again!

Even in the digital age, the newspaper’s postbag continues to groan under the weight of correspondence leaving plenty of material with which to fill another book of letters that never made it into print.

This is the third volume of unpublished missives and these surplus thoughts are as whimsical, hilariously off-message and downright rude as one has come to expect from the Telegraph’s discerning readers.

Who would have thought a year ago that letter writers would be able to draw parallels between Silvio Berlusconi and the Duke of York, Andrew Marr and Ryan Giggs, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury and Rebekah Brooks?

The year 2011 has seen riots, Nick Clegg’s tears, bunga bunga, superinjunctions and the Blairs’ bedroom revelations. In sport, England turned out to be surprisingly good at cricket and unsurprisingly bad at football World Cup bids.

Big events, like the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, seem to bring out the best in letter writing, even if it’s just to say an enthusiastic hello to Pippa Middleton’s bottom!

But so too do everyday events like a routine visit to the shops, catching a train or simply turning on the television. They seem to bring out the preoccupations, frustrations, peccadilloes, hobbyhorses and fears of ordinary people.

With subjects ranging from Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes to Ed Miliband and Wikileaks, these are the letters that were just too off-the-wall, too outrageous or too waggish for an august Letters page.

Some, of course, are just good ‘clean’ fun... ‘SIR - May I suggest that if the police are to use water cannon to disperse rioting students, they include some soap in the tank?’

The first two volumes of unpublished letters to the Daily Telegraph – Am I Alone in Thinking? and I Could Go On – were both bestsellers.

And this looks like being another essential Christmas gift... I Rest My Case!

(Aurum, hardback, £9.99)