I am still trying to get some sort of closure. For almost three weeks now I have been tormented by memories of Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark dancing to the song ‘Thriller’ at the close of her programme, something presumably intended as a light-hearted Halloween treat for the eight or nine remaining viewers. It was not a light-hearted treat for me. I have always harboured the suspicion that Ms Wark is indeed a zombie, an innocent cadaver disinterred by shadowy persons within the left-wing Scottish establishment — the Baron McSamedis — and subjected to some awful supernatural process before being released into the world to do their vile bidding. Watching Kirsty lumber along with a troupe of dancers dressed as pretend zombies served merely to confirm this fact for me. She was utterly convincing, and not a drop of special effects make-up had been applied. While the others gurned along in cheerfully ghoulish histrionics, Kirsty’s cold, dead eyes really gave the game away. Just watch it the next time you think of saying something slightly un-PC, something a little off-colour; you’ll have those cold dead eyes standing right in front of you, and she’ll rip your lungs out, Jim. Or maybe, if she’s busy, she’ll send along Zombie No. 2, Victoria Coren, who’ll smug you to death. Anyway, these days I sleep inside a pentacle, just in case either of them is in the neighbourhood. I advise you to do the same.
So we can be pretty sure that neither Kirsty nor Victoria are the authors of the novel Revolt, and thus the answer to a whodunnit mystery which, three years on, seems not to have been solved. Both Wark and Coren are insufficiently mal-pensant to have had anything to do with this book. Truth be told, I had forgotten about it entirely until someone — maybe the publisher, maybe not — mailed me a copy last week and thus stirred a memory within my addled brain. Revolt is a sort of satirical dystopian fantasy from the hardish right; Britain is now labouring under a quasi-fascist European dictatorship, policed by endlessly meddling and absurd bureaucrats, with involuntary euthanasia and programmes which force people to take part in Gay Awareness Camps. Expressing any form of Englishness is illegal and the BBC, which plays a prominent part, gets its orders direct from Brussels to the extent that it holds prayer meetings every morning in homage to its European overlords. It is, I think, a clod-hoppingly awful book rather than ‘the most explosive novel written for 50 years’, which is what was promised in the blurb on the back. Reading it — and I have not read it all, or indeed most of it: I just couldn’t — is akin to being clumped over the head with a mallet wielded by an imbecile. Dystopian fantasies from the right often are awful, mind – certainly Anthony Burgess’s dreadful 1985 was by some margin the worst thing he ever wrote and slightly taints our memory of the great man. But at least 1985 had a scintilla of wit and was well written.
The beguiling thing with Revolt, however — the cover of which shows an EU bureaucrat in a sort of fascist uniform, just to nail the point home — is who wrote it. Nobody seems to know. Well, I mean, somebody must, but they’re still not telling. It is credited to someone called ‘Robina Hood’ and the blurb inside the cover explains that ‘this is a pseudonym for one of Britain’s best-known, best-loved television and radio presenters. She has presented countless programmes on national television in Britain and has appeared on television stations in Europe, Australia and America.’ Wow, then. Who can it be?
And this is the interesting thing. Because when the lefties, who hate the book a lot more than I do, were given to speculating — i.e., providing the names of a few right-wing female British broadcasters — they came up with precisely two. I would suggest that if you had any doubts at all about the political bias inherent in our broadcast media, this should banish them immediately. Go on — try to think yourself of any woman in a senior broadcasting role who does not have impeccably liberal opinions. You will not need a large notebook to write down the names. I wondered briefly about the excellent Fiona Bruce — I don’t know a thing about her politics, but she does seem to me to have quite a right-wing nose: firm, clean and unyielding. Also, she presents the Antiques Roadshow which is sort of culturally rightish, isn’t it?
However, the names the lefties at the Guardian and elsewhere came up with were Carol Vorderman and Anne Robinson. They knew Vorderman was right-wing because when the book was first published she had appeared on Question Time delivering herself of fairly Poujadist views, which of course they hated her for. Anne Robinson was fingered seemingly because she once dissed the Welsh, on a programme called Room 101. This was enough for some bloke at the Guardian to have her marked down as a crypto-fascist Little Englander. For the rest of us it meant she had a sense of humour. However, despite the possible clue in the pseudonym, Robina, I have my doubts; I think Robinson would probably have done a better job on the book.
The other interesting point to make is this. Broadcasting giants deliver themselves of books all the time, and are happy to use their own names. Indeed, the publishers would insist on it — it’s why they were published in the first place. But when the book’s right-wing, the fear of excoriation from within the industry outweighs even the demands of commerce.
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