House of Fun, by Simon Hoggart

Review published on December 7, 2012. Reviewed by Simon Appleby

Nudge Reviewer Rating:

[product sku=”9780852653814″]For me, the axis of Hoggart’s words and Steve Bell’s vicious cartoons (Bell contributes the cover illustration here) were a defining part of my political education as (should I admit this?) a Guardian-reading teenager. He has always had a knack for finding the ludicrousness in any situation, though possibly in Parliament that is not as hard as we might like to think.

He’s been on his beat since 1992, so he missed Thatcher’s handbaggings of the Common, though she loomed so large over John Major’s government that she’s far from ignored, and even merits her place on the cover along with the four PMs that Hoggart has written about.

Most sketches receive a brief introduction to put them in to context. Personal favourites of mine include acute analysis of Tony Blair’s conference speeches, with their tendency to meaningless phrases and obscure language; and Gordon Brown’s total inability to conduct human relationships (the descriptions of him exercising his new smile in the run-up to the last general election are spot on).

Of course Leaders of the Oppostion don’t come off to well either, and if he gets really bored, Hoggart makes an occasional foray to the House of Lords to watch some truly surreal debates. Then of course, there’s Hoggart’s single-handed elevation of Michael Fabricant MP, with his rather interesting bouffant hair, from an obscure Tory back-bencher to a cult figure (‘Mickey Fabb’). Would Fabricant be a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party if Simon Hoggart hadn’t drawn him to people’s attention? Somehow I doubt it…

Like the best humour, this manages to be funny and true all at the same time.

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