Terribly saddened to hear of the death of Simon Hoggart, a lovely writer and to my mind the finest and funniest purveyor of the House of Commons sketch that we have seen. I saw Simon, surprisingly, in concert in Canterbury, around about this time last year, delighting the audience with anecdotes from his many years watching politicians talk rubbish. We went for a curry afterwards and he seemed on good form, if frail from the punishing bouts of chemotherapy.
He was a hugely gifted writer; certainly, the only writer in the English language who could tempt me to read anything about wine, other than the words ‘half price £4.99’. His column in Punch remained the only readable item in the magazine and his weekly diary in The Guardian was, you would have to say, similarly unique. Whenever I met him he would gripe about some PC edict foisted upon him by the mentalist harridans down the Farringdon Road*. But it was as a sketch writer that he truly excelled; he found the politicians, pretty much all of them, absurd, and made them absurdly entertaining. Bernard Levin may have got there first, but Simon was the better writer. We’ll miss him badly.
*Where the Guardian was based before moving to King’s Place.
You can read a selection of Simon’s work for The Spectator here.