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 pate 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?
Simon Hoggart writes a weekly diary for the Guardian, for which he also writes a daily parliamentary sketch. He also writes about wine and TV for the Spectator and is chairman of BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz.