Most people use blogs on the Authors Electric site more or less non-politically, which is probably a good idea. However, there comes a time when politics seems impossible to avoid – such as now. Having been invited to do a guest post I thought I’d let myself go. Restraint? Tact? Good taste?
The way I see it, Britain, and possibly the whole world, is moving towards a pre-fascistic state. In America we have Donald Trump, of whom the least said the better, but England, rather than Britain, seems hell bent on catching up. My father would probably have disagreed, but I always assumed we were a pretty moral nation. Or as Tony Blair once put it (cue hollow laugh) ‘pretty straight’.
But what can one make of a government that appears to be run by a man who does not apparently know the difference between truth and lies? Who has as his ’Sidekick’ a person who expects us to believe the way to get an eye test is to drive three dozen miles with a baby in his car. Presumably, if all goes well, his eyes are fine. If not – so what?
A government filled with placemen and incompetents who make even Chris Grayling seem reasonably sensible. A government so stupid they can promote said Grayling into another job that even his hapless peers recognise is beyond him.
Even as a novelist, you’d be hard pressed to write it. Which is why I wrote Lying Doggo. It’s a scurrilous sort of cry of rage and pain. I love England. I don’t want to see us going down the tubes. My parents, who were dirt poor, wanted me to grow up with standards. They made me sit a common entrance exam for grammar school, and when I just scraped in, spent all their money to keep me there. Just on the ‘extras’.
My mother sat up night after night sewing a fancy cord all around the edges of a Woolworths blazer into an approximation of the uniform coat. My sister (reluctantly) let me use her best white jumper for playing cricket in. Cricket! Another country… she swore she’d kill me if I got it dirty from that silly egg-shaped ball.
When I thought of writing Lying Doggo I had long known that our Prime Minister had gone to Eton. As had half of his predecessors, some of whom had talent, as well as parents who could cough up 30 grand or more a year. I even knew that the Duke of Wellington (whom I had been taught was the archetypal English hero despite the fact that he was Irish) had said the school ’stuck a poker up my arse for four long years.’
So I researched a little more. I was a crap student at grammar school, and was thrown out after two terms in the sixth form, but I knew how to find things out. And what things. Fagging, homosexuality, world class snobbery, you name it. The secret society called Pop, which you could only join by invitation, a horde of servants at your beck and call, a uniform that any normal person would find ridiculous, and the Eton wall game. The Eton wall game. Look it up. I swear you won’t believe it.
Need to go on, is there? It’s another world, and it’s the world that has provided our ruling classes for about 400 years. It’s a disgrace, and the main motor of the disgrace which our country has become.
And we exported it. Giants of morality like Nigel Farage at home, schools that have modelled themselves on it slavishly all over the world. Need I mention Rupert Murdoch?
So my little book, if it has a theme at all, is about the destruction of morality.
I found it quite amusing that when I tried to advertise it (both as an e-book and a paperback) Facebook rejected first one and then the second version that I tried. To find out why one is required to fill in a vast array of detail about pretty private things, which are not guaranteed to get the ad accepted if you agree to reveal them anyway. I did not. The final nail in the coffin of algorithms was surely driven in by Boris and his yes-men over this year’s education fiasco.
Can you imagine waking up to a midnight knock to find Dominic – fresh from Specsavers – standing on your doorstep for a little chat? The mind boggles.
So my book is a little raw, a little violent, and certainly not the sort of thing you’d want your auntie Nelly to be seen with in Waitrose. It may not even be much cop for all I know, although Brendan Gisby suggests it’s up there with some of Dean Swift’s bitter squibs, and I know my mother would have loved it. She taught me all I know about such things.
I wrote it as part of a proposed small series called Covid Capers, designed to bring a bit of jollity in these troubled times. The first one was a merry micky take about the beloved Swan of Avon, our Bill Shakespode, recast as a hack reporter for Ye Globe in Fleet Street, but this one ran away with me, perhaps.
I blame Horus de Peperpott Paste-Shippam and the evil brain behind him, Gregor Goinn.
I’m flogging it at 99p in the hope enough people will share my pain. I’m not looking to be rich, I promise you. That’s not what writing’s for.
When Gregor Goinn and Horus Nicholae de Peperpott meet on their first day at Eton, they know they are made for each other. Horus is rich, conceited and utterly amoral, while Gregor is so twisted that he is known to everybody (including his own mother) as the Cockroach.
Within minutes they are in bed together – girls will come later – and soon they are planning a glittering future. Horus is going to be King of the World, while Gregor determines to be the hidden power behind the throne.
As true public schoolboys they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal – up to and including bloody murder…Any connection with a real public school or real people is clearly absurd!