The Fallout, by Andrew Anthony

Revenge of the late liberal

In this memoir, Andrew Anthony sets out to address the question of the colour of one's skin. He says that his mother, one of the most selfless persons he has ever known, didn't think black people were bad; she simply felt they were out of place in England. His father insisted that his children never use the word "nigger". He preferred to call a black man a "spade".

In the opening chapter of The Fallout – a grim title for a memoir – the author describes his shock when he hears the news about the attack on the Twin Towers. His wife, a journalist, is in New York, shadowing Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, on a tour of the city. She has planned to visit the World Trade Center with the Duchess. Her husband desperately tries to get in touch with her until, at last, he is told by her office that she is OK. This is the turning-point in the life of a man who once regarded himself as a liberal. We hear his criticisms of the London Review of Books, Noam Chomsky and Tony Benn. It bothers him that some intelligent people read the LRB and that Chomsky is an influential thinker.

Then the author describes his childhood, growing up on a housing estate in Kentish Town. He goes to Haverstock School and feels ashamed that his family is working-class when he meets boys who live in stuccoed houses in Primrose Hill. No one in his family has ever travelled abroad. After leaving school, Anthony works on building sites before he is employed by Harrods to make up cardboard boxes in the basement. He is the only white person doing such "mindless" work in the store's subterranean vaults.

Anthony takes a degree in politics and history at SOAS, London, and then goes to Nicaragua for a few months. He had previously thought university education was only for middle-class people. After coming back from Central America, he works for an IT magazine. His girlfriend leaves him for a man who has his own flat and a car. Anthony gets into trouble at work for stealing tickets before entering into a fake marriage with a Turkish air hostess to raise £1,000.

The author describes the Fifties, when the spirit of London was "Anglo-Saxon". He despises the fact that in the Seventies it was cool to be black. His mother is horrified to see new people moving into the estate, "some of whom do not speak English". He doesn't think that Britain has benefited from ruling over one-fourth of mankind in the 20th century.

Anthony believes that to be a liberal is to be middle-class. He considers himself middle-class after publishing a book on football and writing for The Observer. As an undercover journalist, he worked for a minicab firm in London. The other drivers were from Iran and Afghanistan and resentful of Britain. He wrongly refers to them as "Afghanistanis"; whether out of contempt or ignorance is uncertain.

On the subject of withdrawing US and British troops from Iraq, Anthony says it is no more assured to be the best means of establishing peace than pulling a knife out of a stab victim is necessary in staunching a haemorrhage. This analogy sums up the chilly and cynical views of an author who invokes his liberal past in order for us to subscribe to his new beliefs.

The chapters are entitled Shock, Shame, Anger, Denial and Guilt – as if lifted from a textbook on popular psychology. The word "albeit" crops up throughout. The author's disillusionment with multiculturalism begins well before 9/11, when he reads a report on the future of cultural diversity in Britain compiled by men and women who are liberal in their outlook. It may sit well with Andrew Anthony to pronounce the death of multicultural society, but for those of us who have come here from other countries, multiculturalism cannot and must not fail.



Iqbal Ahmed's books 'Empire of the Mind' and 'Sorrows of the Moon' are published by Constable

Jonathan Cape £14.99 (311pp) £13.50 (free p&p) from 0870 079 8897

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
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.

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'