BOOKS

The Cat that Could Open the Fridge

Simon Hoggart

RRP: £12.99

4 November 2004

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843543572

The advent of the home computer has made Christmas round robin letters ubiquitous.

Where once the hot news about Tamsin’s A levels would be sent in a short note, now it’s not unusual to get a letter that includes several pages of misery – emergency operations, dead relatives, sackings, rainy holidays and so forth – decorated with jolly snowmen and smiling Santas. Some people go further and send out whole booklets. Computers have also made it possible to include photographs of the family eating paté in their Provencal garden, or sitting in a hot tub in California.

Simon Hoggart gets hundreds of round robin letters sent to him every year and has collected the funniest, most irritating, most surreal extracts into this hilarious short book. Along the way he considers why people hate these letters so much and what they tell us about the British middle classes. What, exactly, lies behind the impulse to write about Roger’s decision to cycle to work for health reasons, or Jeremy’s trip to Tasmania, or the replacement pet rabbit?