“I wish to protest most strongly about everything”

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Trying to find space to squeeze another book onto her shelves, Gert came across this blast from the past, from the glory days of Thatcher’s England. Henry Root, aka William Donaldson, peppered dignitaries and celebrities of the day with  letters full of ridiculous and offensive ideas, and then published the letters together with the replies.  The Prince of Wales’ private secretary wrote a very polite refusal to an invitation to conduct the ceremonies at the open day at Henry’s flat (I reckon to pull in the Japs and the more gullible of our American friends. The idea  is to show them how an ordinary Englishman lives.)  Said the secretary, Unfortunately the Prince  has already made his plans for that day. The TV personality Esther Rantzen, in reply to a letter saying You’re a fat idiot and your show’s a disgrace, said Hearing from viewers like yourself is an enormous morale boost for us all –  it really makes a great difference to me to know that you find our work enjoyable and worthwhile.

A very British form of humour,  this cocking a snook at revered institutions, shattering the laws of political correctness in the name of the common man, and exposing the hypocrisy of accepted forms of politeness, a very literary and political form of humour that’s no longer in vogue. Perhaps the nearest thing is the political cartoon?

If you click on the somewhat blurred book covers above they’ll come up in full glorious detail.

The Henry Root Letters  and The Further Letters of Henry Root (Macdonald Futura 1981).

8 thoughts on ““I wish to protest most strongly about everything”

    1. They are a lot of fun, quite outrageous, and it’s incredible that he got serious replies to a lot of them. It makes you realise how many crazies there are out there writing to politicians and celebrities.

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun. I have “Dear Bill” the fictional letters supposedly written by Denis Thatcher but really written by Richard Ingram and John Wells. Not quite the same thing but you get the point.

    1. I’ve read some of these in Private Eye. Yes, the same sort of thing- and very British, wouldn’t you say? Donaldson wrote some novels too, but I’ve never found the time to look at any of them.

    1. I have a very funny DVD called Bird & Fortune, from an old Channel 4 show, in which John Bird & John Fortune do fake interviews with “Sir George Parr” , and a series of dinner party conversations with some smug middle-class Londoners. I’ve watched it may times and never tire of it.

  2. It’s called Bird & Fortune, Two Johns and Dinner Party and looks as if you can get it from Amazon. Here’s a sample of one of the dinner parties on YouTube

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