VIRGIN £12.99 (193PP) £11.69 (FREE P&P) FROM 0870 079 8897

Not In My Name, by Julie Burchill & Chas Newkey-Burden

Some immodest proposals

Here she goes again. This time she has a sidekick, a journalist called Chas Newkey-Burden. Their contributions in this "compendium of modern hypocrisy" are printed in different typefaces. She scores a sort of Times New Roman knockoff. He's stuck with a rather cheesy, low-rent humanist sans serif, almost like Trebuchet, except that the lower-case "i" lacks that kinky little squared-off serif. Gosh, I wonder what it means when you begin a book review by criticising the typography?

Let's try to stick to the book. What a curious old stick Miss Burchill is. Same old prejudices, same old banging on, same old self-perpetuating invulnerability. It's not satire, because it's all about her. She's untroubled by Dryden's nailing of the art of satire. There may be "a vast difference betwixt the slovenly Butchering of a Man, and the fineness of a stroke that separates the Head from the Body, and leaves it standing in its place," but give her the butchering every time. She wants us to see the blood spurt and hear the head thump to the floor. When she was hot new stuff ("So refreshing my dear," they'd quack), she sometimes managed it, but now it's not the victim's blood but her own effortful sweat which spatters the walls. The only sound is of her laboured breathing.

Nor does she care how hard it is "to make a Man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms!" Is she bovvered? She ain't bovvered. Opprobrious terms? You got it. You don't even have to read the book to find them; just fire up The Julie Burchill Random Recycler and you're home and dry: "White... middle-class... old... snivelling wretch Tony Parsons... bunch of finger-wagging no-marks... the portion-controlled sausage factory that is further education ... a drag queen made bitter by a real woman's breasts".

As the computer demonstrates, the stuff writes itself. It's easier than satire, and in any case what she really wants is for us to admire the sabre-waving, like the Arab swordsman in the Indiana Jones movie, frantically flourishing his scimitar until Harrison Ford, in a masterstroke of improvisation (he had diarrhoea and urgently needed to truncate the filming), simply drew his revolver and shot him.

Times change, and targets change with them, but Burchill is still holed up, firing at the slightest noise, like those Japanese soldiers, stuck in the jungle because nobody had told them the conflict had moved on.

In the end, it's like watching a pub bully trying to provoke a fight with what he believes to be middle-class ponces what's looking at them funny innit. They don't want victory; they want to ease their inner gripe with violence and prove themselves well 'ard.

In the same way, Burchill is a professional noise, a comic turn of the old Les Dawson sort but without the linguistic invention, the observation and the jokes. She hates the middle class, of course, and the old, and the ugly, and white people, and anyone with that very English ill-thought-out instinct to niceness. It's odd.

She's no sylph, no beauty, getting old as we all do, is white, has become middle class, and knows it, but it's as though none of this is connected to what she writes. It is, of course, the middle class who read her, not trembling in their careful shoes, but with a little thrill. She's like the drunken girl who might say a rude word at a drinks party so that everyone else can feel cool by proxy, thrillingly non-conformist and out on the edge. It's the Daily Mail readers who get really turned on. She's their avatar. They're the punters. Gagging for it.

Yet really, she's harmless. Shouting is just shouting. Fear Swift's dreadful suave precision of engagement with the world, so that you're never quite sure when you've been taken in. But no need to fear Miss Burchill. Little flat by the seaside; Christianity; she even has gout, the patrician malady. Like an old white man in a club, she grumbles sclerotically. Plucky little Israel. Arse middle classes. Book-learning, pack of nonsense. The chavs are good, it's middle-class white men who are bad. Homophobes. Ugly sexist old white middle class homophobes. Ugly sexist old white middle-class homosexuals. (Something for everyone, see?)

George Bush is really nice. People who protested against the invasion of Iraq aren't nice because Saddam was horrid. Tony was brave and noble and good and quite right not to listen to them. What? What? What? Harrumph. Pshaw.

Like a club bore. "A good definition of a raging bore," she advises us – a raging bore, d'you see, not an ordinary one – "is someone who tells people they don't know their problems." Or, indeed, their opinions. The thing is, she knows she's right. She doesn't want free speech. She wants compulsory listening. It makes her impregnable, as a turn. But you can't be a satirist if you know you're right. The great satirists know perfectly well that they're wrong.

And Mr Newkey-Burden? Most of the time, he shares his targets and matériel with Mother Burchill. Sometimes, though, he forgets his inferior typeface and smaller credit-line, and starts doing journalism and other non-Burchill things like looking about him, checking the facts, constructing an argument and thinking. He should do it more often. It works.

As for hypocrisy: the authors seem to think it means "nasty horrid people we hate" when, really, it means pretending (literally, acting) or, in its commonest Biblical usage, being godless. The authors seem only to use it in the latter sense. Burchill, a Christian and a charitable volunteer, is, despite her hatred of education, going off (she says) to read theology: the study of building vast minatory structures on flimsy foundations in defiance of the facts. She should do well.



Michael Bywater's 'Big Babies' is published by Granta

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Arts and Entertainment
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?