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
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific