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 & Entertainment
film

Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatre

Review: Of Mice and Men

Arts & Entertainment
art

By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work

VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Leonardo DiCaprio will star in an adaptation of Michael Punke's thriller 'The Revenant'
film

Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar

Arts & Entertainment
Cody and Paul Walker pictured in 2003.
film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Down to earth: Fern Britton presents 'The Big Allotment Challenge'
TV

Arts & Entertainment
The London Mozart Players is the longest-running chamber orchestra in the UK
musicThreatened orchestra plays on, managed by its own members
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
film

Arts & Entertainment
TV
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
art

What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?

Arts & Entertainment
artGraffiti legend posts picture of work – but no one knows where it is
Arts & Entertainment
A close-up of Tom of Finland's new Finnish stamp
art

Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings

Arts & Entertainment
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in 2002's Die Another Day
film

The actor has confessed to his own insecurities

Life & Style
Green fingers: a plot in East London
TV

Allotments are the focus of a new reality show

Arts & Entertainment
Myleene Klass attends the Olivier awards 2014

Oliviers 2014Theatre stars arrive at Britain's most prestigious theatre awards
Arts & Entertainment
Stars of The Book of Mormon by Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park

Oliviers 2014Blockbuster picked up Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical
Arts & Entertainment
Lesley Manville with her Olivier for Best Actress for her role in 'Ghosts'

Oliviers 2014Actress thanked director Richard Eyre for a stunning production
Arts & Entertainment
Rory Kinnear in his Olivier-winning role as Iago in Othello

Oliviers 2014Actor beat Jude Law and Tom Hiddleston to take the award
Arts & Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is best known for this roles in Sherlock and Star Trek
TV

Arts & Entertainment
theatreAll hail the temporary venue that has shaken things up at the National Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
musicShe is candid, comic and coming our way
Arts & Entertainment
booksHer new novel is about people seeking where they belong
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

    How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

    Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
    Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

    British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

    The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
    Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

    Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

    Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
    Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

    The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
    Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

    Cannes Film Festival

    Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
    The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

    The concept album makes surprise top ten return

    Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
    Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

    Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

    Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
    10 best baking books

    10 best baking books

    Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers