Ian Hollingshead’s collection of unpublished letters to the Daily Telegraph, Am I Alone in Thinking…? is a great little collection of amusing or strange letters which did not make it into the paper’s printed edition. It is a bit pricey at the nominal cover price for a short book with large font and acres of white space, but at a discounted price it makes for a fun book to dip in and out of for a few minutes of entertainment now and again. You will also get to discover why one reader wrote, “I fear that my next missive will be as long as an under-butler’s cummerbund”.
Regular readers of The Guardian‘s own letters page will quickly see the difference in style between those two letters pages, for many of the unpublished Telegraph letters would have fitted well in the Guardian, with its house style preferring short, quirky and amusing letters of the sort that do not get past the letters page editors of the Telegraph.
Given the entertainment value of many of the unpublished letters, it does also make you wonder why newspapers do not use the extra freedom of their websites to publish rather more letters and instead are still so heavily driven by the limitations of space in the printed edition in choosing which letters get a public airing. It is particularly odd as the collection of letters shows how many unpublished letters are more interesting, illuminating and entertaining than many of the online comments which newspapers do happily host on their sites.