Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rooting for Henry. Well done, mate.

Diabolical, I call it. It was a send-up all along. I should’ve guessed it the last time I read The Further Letters of Henry Root, guffawing aloud all the way. Especially when I spotted more than once the wet fish merchant extraordinaire quoting verbatim his daughter Doreen (20). She reads philosophy and sociology at the University of Exeter, you know. What’s more, she spouts logic while watching TV talk shows where the likes of Malcolm Muggeridge hold forth. Stuff like “This isn’t a game of football; it’s a category mistake” – this gem pitched during a telecast of an England versus Ipswich game. William Donaldson is the culprit. He conjured Henry Root out of his cunning knowledge of the British way of life in the Thatcher era. “The eccentric, ribald, hysterical writings of semi-retired wet fish merchant Henry Root have been England's best-kept comic secret since the late 1970s. … William Donaldson adopted the nom de lettre of Mr. Root and began to offer unsolicited advice – bluffly impertinent, robustly cranky, wonderfully lunatic advice – and propose strange but just-barely-plausible schemes to Britain's most prominent individuals. Donaldson's all-too-straight-talking, archly English crackpot elicited from his targeted bigwigs one unthinkingly self-important reply after another …” says the Barnes & Noble website blurb. And, a reader’s review: “His attempts to purchase a peerage from the Conservative Party are a lesson to anyone who would undertake a serious wind-up campaign against a corporate or political entity. And his efforts to get his Grandmother onto the Terry Wogan TV show '... she's no Shirley Bassey, but she is bad…' – hilarious.” N.B.: Actually, it’s Mrs Root’s mother, Enid Potts (79), he’s trying to palm off to Wogan, if memory serves.

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