Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brown: the Amis Papers.

Martin Amis is writing up his verdict on the new Prime Minister for The Observer, and I have been forwarded a sneak preview:

Honeymoon horrorism
A cosmic irony, the First Chancellor mused, that a predecessor whose mountainous reputation for vanity begat endless and opprobrious satire, should have left the body-length bedroom mirror behind. He stared, brownly, saturninely, into its reflective sheen. He had an expansive - even magisterial - front, but was it the front of Jove? It was a moment of insurmountable, excruciating misery when he realised that his hunched, resentful, guilty posture screamed 'usurper'. Each hooded, quasi-Oriental oculus bore the stamp of an apparatchik-led coup. He scowled, sending an orgiastic ripple from chin to shining chin. The Rubinesque body whose swimming convexities had moments ago been irrigated with molten jets of moisture, probed with lascivious amber bars, and pummelled with fluffed cotton towels, was now a seething patchwork of sunburnt red and blanched white. He stuffed every global inch of it into a handsewn two-piece suit whose tough fabric threatened to scorch his inner thighs with each stride. He breakfasted with the trusted team of glad-handers on yoghurt and fruit salad. Despite the suspicion he invariably gives that his adipose layers have been constructed with the mulch of kebab meat and pints of Spitfire, Gordon has the appetite, agility and acumen of a rabbit. Ed Balls shot him a suspicious glance as he lapped the surplus peach melba from the carton lid, but the Prime Minister winked reassuringly. The fat of the land was safe under his watch, his smirk seemed to say.

Such is the day, I surmise, that my new Prime Minister has been through when I meet him in the back of his charcoal limousine. Like Tony, he is an early riser (not career-wise, I realise with a moment of voltaic mirth that threatens to overthrow a strict poker face regime). He is also a considerate host, inviting me to brunch on a Murray's mint while his advisers gurgle with helpful phrases. "Labour's coming home!" Balls ululates. "Things can only get better," another chips in. Nice try, I think. Cool Brittania had existed for a leadership prodigiously more chilled out than this one. I inquire as to whether the fight against Islam will proceed with the same vigour under the new administration, and a frigid silence descends on the back seats. "I think," Gordon trembles, "that we have to be careful not to fight religious fanaticism with political fanaticism." I sense treachery. "Well then," I steam, "with what else should fanaticism be fought? A sense of benign resignation? Wistful moderation? A mournful sigh, followed by the complete transfer of the realm to the Islamic Emirate of Ali Baba?" The frigid silence mutates into a winter of discontent, until Sinister Balls interrupts my interrogation. "Now hang on a minute, Mart," he says, contracting my name in a dismal attempt at familiarity. "No," I tell him, "fuck off, Balls. I'm serious. Take that complacent civil service comportment and the suicidal love-embrace with the Mohammedan half-brothers, and fuck off."

We eyeball, Balls and I, for several minutes before Gordon, to whom I am increasingly partial, chuckles ruefully: "It's easy for you to say that, Martin. I've been wanting to say that for years, but I have to live with him! Anyway, we're cracking down harder - we won't be as madly insensitive about it as the last lot were. Tony and his gang, you know, they rushed out policies on the spot. I'll give it time to ferment in the opinion columns with the odd leak here and there." The levity has prepared the ground for some gratuitous flirtation. I tell Gordon that the world has grossly underestimated him. He touches my hair and kindly remarks that this was a problem I had never had to contend with. [In retrospect, I wonder how kind the remark in fact was. Consider deleting?] "What's it like," I ask him, "being the topic of discussion by media mooncalves?" He confides that the world of politics can almost be as savage as that of publishing, and slips in a remark about the scars on his back. Copycat, perhaps, but I'm starting to like the sound of his purr. And in strictest confidence, he reveals that the Alistair Campbell diaries were in fact ghost-written by a neice with learning difficulties, as were his columns for Mature Arseholes. The whole opus magnum horribilis, it seems, is a nepotistic palimpsest. "Am I," Gordon coyly inquires, "talking too fast for you?"

I return, exhausted, to my West London pad and give the Hitch a call. He is exuberant, or drunk, or both: his vowels are a touch more elaborate and enduring than usual. "One point upon which I trusted Blair less than his successor is the former's simpering religiosity. I think it accounts for the supererogatory restraint of his in the war on fascism." "And Brown?" I wonder. "Oh God, Mart, he's the face of boring theocratic tyranny. Honestly, try lighting a fag next to him and his lips become tighter than a duck's arse." "His wife's quite sensual, though," I say, feeling strangely protective of my Prime Minister. "I wouldn't fuck her with your dick," he blisters, "and I don't think he would either." Hitch gives offense, but only in a good cause. Somehow - this always happens nowadays - the conversation bounds suddenly from theocracy to sexual propinquities to eighteenth century revolutionaries, and back again. I suspect that he may be losing the distinction between irony and non-sequitur. I remind him that in older days, he would deduce from his descent down a Hebraic chute that Israel should be wiped off the map, from his sexual liberationism that abortion should be aborted, and from his revolutionary socialism that communism should be overthrown. "Don't. Be. Silly." He says, and rings off.

Gordon has been on the task for only a brief while, but his stature is assured. His pachydermic confidence has stampeded the Tories into retreat - which can only be good for as long as a scandalous number of them are lurching back to the old hobby of appeasement. One of them, spotting me lounging about in the Commons tea room, approached me with an outstretched hand and malevolent eyes. "I am a big fan," he said. Excuse me, I thought, while I evacuate my bowels. "I always remember," he continued, "your review of Hannibal. Very funny. Especially when you said that Thomas Harris had 'gone gay' for his creation. Some people called that homophobic, but I think it was inspired. Isn't it always sad, though, when a talented author goes gooey over a psychopathic serial killer?" He was casually fucked off by Balls, who had come with Kit Kats and Espresso. The Brown regime radiates homeliness and protection. It is not the nanny state, it is the Daddy State, and this patriarch shows no sign of relenting in the necessary war on the burglars. Yet, as besotted as I am with New New Labour - a superfluity of novelty, an excess of change, a surfeit of modernity - Tony will never be completely parted with. I think about him with the blood. Last night I masturbated, electrically, in his memory. Hair stood aloft on every surface of my body, and I spasmed rhythmically. It might, to any observer, have resembled a scene from An American Werewolf in London. I directed shapeshifting visions of him in a prefrontal movie, a semi-pornographic romance (for some reason, I protected his modesty even in my fantasies). To a miraculous, wrist-cranking crescendo, I imagined him floating through the open sash window and winking at me from three feet above. "Mmmm," I gristled as his ghost hovered over me, "Mr Blair".