The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum edited by Iain Hollingshead

the lunatics have taken over the asylumTo whom it may concern…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

As any Brit will know, The Daily Telegraph is one of our more right-wing newspapers. This book contains a collection culled from the Letters to the Editor section of the paper, submitted by the intelligent, the witty, the grumpy and the occasionally downright weird people who are part of the readership. The letters cover the period from the last general election in 2010 through our experiment in Conservative/Liberal coalition government, and give a great flavour of the issues and scandals that have exercised the minds of retired colonels and maiden aunts in the leafy suburbs of Conservative England. While I try not to discourage anyone from any good book, this one is really only for UK political geeks. Many of the entries are humorous, but a lot of them depend on the reader knowing the personalities and politics of contemporary Britain.

The selection is grouped under headings such as Goodbye Gordon, Chillaxing Conservatives, Swivel-eyed Loons, etc. If you don’t get these references, then I suggest the book is not for you. However, if you do, from whatever side of the political spectrum you hail, you will probably find this as entertaining as I did. There’s no doubt that Letters to the Editor has become a competitive sport in Britain with people vying to be the funniest or the most intelligent or the most condescending as their character dictates, and the result is some very fine humour, intentional or otherwise. The book is also a lighthearted reminder of some of the treasured political moments of the last five years – just the thing to read in the wake of the weirdest General Election results Britain has ever seen to remind us not to take it all so seriously. Buffoons exist on either side of the political divide, so at least while they’re wrecking the economy and destroying our society, we can be sure our politicians will always entertain us…

Nick Clegg and David Cameron, the coalition leaders 'you never promised me a rose garden...'
Nick Clegg and David Cameron, the coalition leaders
‘you never promised me a rose garden…’

To give a little flavour of the book, I’ve tried to select a few letters that don’t require an in-depth knowledge of the British political scene…

Sir – Dear Lord, I know that I don’t talk to you that much, but I note that you have recently taken away my favourite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favourite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favourite musician, Michael Jackson, and my favourite cricketer, Alec Bedser.

I just wanted to let you know that my favourite Prime Minister is Gordon Brown. Amen

David Say


On the TV Debates held before the 2010 election

Sir – The most astonishing fact is that Gordon Brown finished third out of three and his acolytes are relieved. I dread their ambitions for the country.

Kiran Solanki

Gordon Brown discovering that he had been recorded calling a member of the public 'a bigoted woman'... (source: bbc)
Gordon Brown discovering that he had been recorded calling an ‘elderly’ member of the public a ‘bigoted woman’…
(source: bbc)

Sir – I would think that Gillian Duffy, sixty-five, is probably more annoyed at being described as ‘elderly’ than a ‘bigot’.

Andrew J. Morrison (64 years and 355 days)


Sir – David Cameron wants to help us old people to downsize. I am already two inches shorter than I used to be, so I don’t need his help.

John de Lange


Sir – May I suggest that if the police are to use water cannons to disperse rioting students, they include some soap in the tank?

Finlay Mason


On the subject of gay marriage

Sir – Being a devoted husband, as well as a staunch and active member of the Conservative Party, I’d be grateful to learn what further changes it will adopt, especially in regard to monogamy. My wife could do with a bit more help around the house.

Robert Vincent

A great gift for the political nerd in your life – I would mention Christmas stockings but for fear that you might all lynch me…

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Constable.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

27 thoughts on “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum edited by Iain Hollingshead

  1. Well done FF. You have made me laugh for the first time since I got back from a wonderful concert last night and turned on the telly at 11pm. More please, more excerpts! Only 5 years to 2020!


    • I’m trying to look on the bright side – I enjoyed seeing Jim Murphy getting stuffed. I enjoyed it very, very, very much indeed! And Boris is back!! I’ve missed him since he was London Mayor – we didn’t get to see enough of him up here. But that’s about as much ‘bright side’ as I can find… start the countdown…


      • Well, I suppose Farage not getting elected ranks as bright as I go today, though thinking about their vote share makes me shiver. Once upon a time the raving monster loony party were a daft election joke we all quite enjoyed. Screaming Lord Sutch is missed. Nothing to laugh about with the current version. Oh well…perhaps Have i Got News For You will make me see a funny side…………………….


        • Well, I agree about UKIP, but took comfort from the complete demise of the BNP – I do believe that UKIP appeals to lots of people who are not basically racist, whereas the BNP was on the Ku Klux Klan end of the political spectrum. They seem to have self-destructed and that has to be a good thing… *smiles bravely*

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, this sounds hilarious, FictionFan!!! Even if one isn’t sophisticated about British politics, it sounds a great read. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂


  3. I love these collections of “Letters to the Editor”, but it’s usually The Times I end up with. Think we could all do with something entertaining this weekend.


  4. Every now and again I do read ‘Letters to the Editor’ because it is fun – even better to have the best ones picked out for easy enjoyment! Glad you had a good time reading it and thanks for those snapshots to make us smile 🙂


  5. HaHa! I don’t follow British politics much, but these letters sound hilarious. I guess the former journalist in me just finds it satisfying to hear what Average Person thinks of his/her leaders, wannabe leaders, and everybody in between. Well done, FF!!


    • Haha! After last night I felt the Brits who read the blog would need cheering up – we seem to have achieved an election result that has pleased almost no-one! And it’s good to remember that politics can be fun as well as depressing… sometimes! 😉


  6. There are at least two other books in this series. One of them, I think, is called ‘I could go on…’ and the other ‘Am I alone in thinking?’ They are very funny and, as a daily reader of the DT, I can confirm that some of the letters are very weird, especially those which begin ‘My wife and I…’ I believe the Telegraph editorial staff publish some of them as a sort of dare.


    • I love these little collections as a bit of light reading. I think the Telegraph and The Times have the best letters pages – you see the same names cropping up again and again. It’s obviously a hobby for some of the readers. 🙂


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