Of the most exciting and imminent developments, my novel "Justice is Served" has been accepted for publication with Leeds-based punk-publishers Armley Press, headed up by Mick McCann, John Lake and Mick Lake. Please do visit their website here:
They've got some really interesting work going on.
"Justice is Served" is the story of loner Jack Jones, whose memories of childhood abuse, both emotional and physical, re-surface when he receives news of his grandmother's death.
Jack is a young criminal law paralegal who has already grown disillusioned with the criminal justice system. But memories of his mother and step-father's awful behaviour, and the idea that criminals all too frequently seem to get away with too much rottenness, motivate Jack to see justice done the way people often feel that justice should be done. And it is this disillusionment, these horrible memories and his flawed logic that take him on the path to becoming a costumed vigilante.
I wrote this book in 2013, in two parts actually, but decided that the whole thing flowed nicely as one novel. Its aim (primarily) was to convey the idea that despite our dissatisfaction with the results of the criminal justice system; despite our frustration and disgruntlement, it can never be okay to take the law into our own hands, because to do so, is to undermine the democratic principle of delegating the functions of justice to authorities who are funded (though arguably not enough) to investigate, prosecute and facilitate justice. And it is also a long-held belief of mine that public funding must - and I do mean MUST - remain a priority for criminal legal aid, as without the means to defend themselves, suspects are more exposed to the risks of injustice.
It was also a kind of exploration of a genre that I like...vigilantism, costumed superheroes. There's a really great section of Jon Ronson's book "Lost at Sea" which follows the activities of Seattle-based, real-life "superhero" Phoenix Jones ("The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones") and this was a major influence in the writing of my book. The idea of ordinary folk dressing up and running around the streets at night catching bag-snatchers or whatever.
But in truth, I don't believe it's a good thing. Not in any lasting, meaningful sense. The actions of some spandex-wearing fool could jeopardize the far more complex work of the police, and as hard a time as I'm prone to giving the police, they accomplish more than we often credit - and more than leather-clad, masked do-gooders could ever hope to. To a large extent, we've just got to butt the fuck out.
So, there's that.
But I'm also writing about three other significant pieces at the moment, one of which has gripped me just lately in a mad frenzy of writing that isn't even hampered by the debilitating dose of Man Flu with which I'm currently afflicted.
This is a book idea that came to me recently, after compiling my "E-Thoughts: 2015" (free PDF on this website), and re-watching the video clip of David Cameron calling Russell Brand a joke.
You know the one I mean...this one:
And I found myself feeling rather more than a little pissed off with the whole sneering, snobbish vibe going on, even from the reporter who asked the question about Russell Brand in the first place.
So I thought about what the world would be like if David Cameron was never re-elected. But not because he failed to win the General Election though...I started to wonder about a world in which the Tories stepped UP their aggressive assault on the poorer parts of society. In which they tightened the protective walls around the wealthy elite even further. In which they drove the world kicking and screaming into a capitalist's wet-dream...
And I wondered what it might take for them to really put the fucking boot in like this; harder, faster and causing far more damage. And I thought it could be...it just could be that if David Cameron was (in a hypothetical, fictional setting) the target of an assassination, that one way the Tories would have to react is by shifting things up a gear to secure their interests.
And thus was born my new novel idea, which a couple of weeks later, is flowing very nicely.
Here's the intro...a re-imagining of that clip above. The rest, well. You're gonna just have to be patient...
(NB I am NOT saying that I'd want anything like this to happen, by the way...just in case someone starts getting their tits in a tangle. I do not, and would never advocate the shit that follows EVER. It is a fictional, thought-experiment, nothing more.)
April 28th, 2015
UK General Election Campaign
Enfield, North London.
The Prime Minister, smart-casual in his pale blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up, stands proudly in the middle of a crowd of gathered factory workers. Some are dressed in blue overalls. Some in shirt-and-tie. Most of them watch him intently; eagerly hanging on every word.
The Prime Minister invites a question from a journalist, who stands in a crush of reporters. Camera lenses, microphones and note-pads; all awaiting the impassioned and inspiring words of the Conservative Party leader, campaigning for re-election at this radar-systems manufacturing plant in Enfield, North London.
The journalist puts a microphone to his mouth, and in his smug voice he asks, “We’re on Day Three of Passionate Prime Minister…Are you not a little jealous, as you’re reaching out to voters in this live and unplugged way, that you appear not to have been granted an audience with Russell Brand, as Ed Miliband has. Will you be seeking his endorsement, or will you be leaving it to Ed Miliband to go after endorsement from Britain’s stand-up Marxist?”
There’s a ripple of polite laughter. Shared understanding. Shared agreement.
Like many others, this journalist clearly finds something bizarre and amusing in the idea of people opposing Tory elitism. Of opposing the established way of things. His ridicule of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, and his snide and snobbish mockery of Russell Brand stamps a clear and ingratiating loyalty to the Prime Minister, who stands before him like a false prophet.
The Prime Minister seems to welcome the question, even if he babbles and flounders for several moments before cobbling together his unfunny, sneering response.
“First of all,” he says, “we’re in year five of Passionate Prime Minister. And this job has been unbelievably fulfilling. Very hard at moments, but look…frankly, it’s really important that we turn this economy around, we get the deficit down, we help get people into work and that’s what this is all about. That’s what my passion is all about. Now, as for Russell Brand, he says don’t vote. That’s his whole view. Don’t vote…it would only encourage them, or something. That’s what he says. And look…that’s funny, right..? It’s funny. But politics, and life, and elections, and the economy and jobs is not a joke. Russell Brand’s a joke. Ed Miliband hanging out with Russell Brand. That’s a joke. But this isn’t funny. It’s about the election, it’s about our future, it’s about jobs, it’s about recovery. I haven’t got time to hang out with Russell Brand. This is more important. These are real people. This is what this election is all about!”
After his rousing speech, the gathered audience begins to applaud with sycophantic gusto. But this is where it all goes suddenly wrong. There’s a series of loud bangs. Gunshots. Screams, voices exclaiming surprise and panic. Shouting, swearing. It becomes clear that this event is the target of some sort of terrorist action.
The camera remains fixed on David Cameron as he looks, panic-stricken, behind him. There’s a rattle of gunfire, and we see his body jerk and flail before stumbling back into the scattering crowd, now intent on self-preservation.
The final chaotic moments of the event, and of the Prime Minister’s life are captured in a blur of panic, as the camera begins to thrash around like a cheap ‘found-footage’ horror movie. Everything we see loses coherence, as it all begins to look like the vortex of total madness.
The camera through which we’re watching this hell unfold suddenly drops to the factory floor with a thud. The image flickers from the impact, then stabilises. And we see feet racing past in all directions. We hear more gunshots, screams.
And then the camera stops recording. We see nothing but static.