Revisiting An Old Anti-Blair Polemic
01 April 2011
This week I started taking a look at the old online Barney Thomson novel, Barney Thomson & The Half-Blood PM, with a view to it being the next book to go on Kindle. I wrote it in the lead-up to the 2005 General Election, with barbershop hero Barney Thomson being ordered to be Tony Blair's personal barber for a couple of weeks.
Haven't finished reading through it yet, but already have my doubts about whether or not to go ahead with publishing. Certainly it's got that usual Barney Thomson feel and quality; you know, hilarious political satire mixed with brutal death and doughnuts. Trouble is, it's just pretty similar in many ways to The End of Days. It's funny to read, because I certainly never looked at it again before I wrote End of Days, and indeed had forgotten everything about it. Wrote them four and a half years apart, and yet there are many similarities. Here are some of them:
1. Barney is summoned from his shop in Millport by a couple of blokes in sharp Agent Cooper suits. This also happens in The Final Cut. Might need to stop writing that scene.
2. Barney quickly tires of the Prime Minister talking pish, and delights in telling him home truths. Indeed, Barney's attitude throughout is exactly the same. I could lift whole scenes and transfer them between books. Actually, come to think of it, I could do that with all the Barney Thomson books...
3. They both have a scene in the Sherlock Holmes pub just off Trafalgar Square, what with it being the only pub in London that I actually know.
4. The CIA get involved.
5. Over-reliance on the use of the word Muppet. This probably applies to all of my books too. When editing The End of Days I had to remove some of the Muppets as there really were too many. The Muppet gag reaches a peak in Half-Blood PM with the following exchange.
'You know, I do worry about this Iraq business,' said the PM. 'The press won't let it go, and I do worry that some of the hardworking, decent, honest people of Britain and England might start to doubt my integrity. Sometimes, as I meet the honest, decent, hardworking...'
'Of course they doubt your integrity,' said Barney, hoping to cut off another hardworking, decent, honest speech before it got into full swing.
'Everybody thinks you're a liar. Of course they do. Look, consider your chum, the President. When Gerald Ford said in 1976 that there'd been no Soviet domination of eastern Europe under his administration...'
'Did he say that?'
'Yes. And when he did, it was disastrous. Everybody thought, God, what a Muppet, what a complete and utter twat-brained loser, and so they voted for Jimmy Carter. But think about your friend George. He comes out with stuff like that every day. He makes words up, he stumbles over sentences, he clearly has no grasp of facts, he makes gaffes every time he opens his mouth. He has Muppet stamped on his forehead. He defines the word Muppet for a new generation, too young to have seen the original Muppets. When the Muppets are remembered centuries from now, it will become lost in time whether Kermit was President and Bush was a stuffed frog, or the other way round. And yet, the people still vote for him. He still wins all those states that the Republicans always win, and he still wins Ohio. They're used to him doing it, they expect him to constantly gaffe.'
The smile increased a notch or two on the PM's face. He nodded. He thought about what Barney was saying.
'What are you saying?' he asked.
'Everybody knows you're a lying, low-life, political scumbag. So what if anyone comes up with a smoking gun and reveals you to be a big fat liar? That thirty-six to forty percent of voters who are polling in your favour, are just going to shrug and say, "we know, we know, enough already." You might be in more trouble if it was proved that at some point you'd told the truth.'
The smile stayed on the PM's face, although that one had him a little confused.
There's also an awful lot of that too, the anti-Blair polemic. 46,000 words worth. Oh well...
The title suggests Harry Potter spoofery, but there's none of that. I just spoofed the title of the sixth book, not any part of the story. Possibly I even wrote it before that sixth HP came out, and certainly it was before I'd read any of them, so I didn't even know what a half blood was in the HP world. So, should I decide to do anything with this, I'll need to change the title.
At some point over the next few days, Shackleton and I will sit down with the team here in Bandar Sera Begawan - Bill, Amy, Malky Eight Feet and Josh - and come up with some sort of plan.