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Letters to nowhere
on 17 February 2013
Robin Cooper, better known to some readers as BAFTA-nominated writer and TV producer Robert Popper, clearly had some time on his hands from 1999-2004. The Timewaster Letters is a collection of his correspondence with some fifty organisations written during that period. From designing a range of outdoor products with a Roman theme for a 'quality garden magazine' to trying to book the Royal Festival Hall for a private function, Cooper is out to really wind up his new-found pen pals.
This book completely failed to hit the spot for me. After each opening paragraph, it was usually all too clear where most of the letters were heading. Some of the more successful attempts are where lengthier correspondence entered into; unfortunately, he's mostly unsuccessful in this. Out of fifty-five opening salvos penned by Cooper, over half receive just one reply (often a variation on the theme of 'no thanks, now go away.') Six receive no reply at all. You can often sense the growing frustration of the poor administrator on the other end who is desperate to bring the conversation to a close. In the end, I prefer attacks that serve more of a purpose, such as those launched by comedian Mark Thomas. Having said all of this, if the idea of someone trying to get funding from English Heritage to erect a monument to table tennis outside Buckingham Palace has you chortling, then this book may well be your thing. It just wasn't mine ...
This review refers to the paperback edition of 'The Timewaster Letters' published by Michael O'Mara Books Ltd in 2005.