So, let's go. Don't say I didn't warn you about the sex stuff. Don't blame me if you finish this post rocking backward and forward, hugging yourself with your eyes squeezed shut. We'll start with...
Issues with individuals
If Littlejohn doesn't like someone, we'll usually know it because he's named a baddie after them. Or a gay.
More on those in a little bit. The best attack on an individual comes about fifteen pages in, where he spends the best part of a page telling us that when salt of the earth ex-cop Mickey French was convalescing after being shot, the worst thing wasn't the pain, but a visit from Michael Winner. Michael Winner famously called Littlejohn an arsehole on his own TV show six years earlier. Now - revenge in his shit book that only got one printing due to poor sales! Ha ha haah! Who's the Winner now, bitch?
Mickey was shot by a man called Lincoln Philpott, who walks on a technicality because he was represented by evil lefty plotter, Justin Fromby. Lincoln Philpott rhymes with Winston Silcott, who was cleared of the murder of Keith Blakelock (Mickey was there when Blakelock was killed, and Yvoonne Flletcher - hey, I did coincidences yesterday, sorry) when forensic tests suggested his confession was a fabrication. Littlejohn apparently commented, "Winston Silcott isn't innocent."
The young offenders that Mickey and his family encounter at Goblin's holiday camp are accompanied by an ineffectual, gullible, lefty, gay parole officer who makes all sorts of stupid mistakes. His name is Toynbee. Just as you're thinking, "That's a crap dig at Polly Toynbee," Littlejohn pulls off one of his infuriating superfluous 'look at this' pointers by having Mickey say, "Any relation?" Take that, Polly Toynbee! You're a gayer!
The 'King of the pikeys' (that's actually a real quote) is called Seamus Milne. Take that, Seumas Milne, you pikey king!
Mickey lives in a village called Heffer's Bottom. This means he can drive past a sign saying, "You are now entering Heffer's Bottom." This joke had the exact same effect on me as an ice-cream headache.
Heffer's Bottom is twinned with Reinaldo-Sur-Mandy. Anyway, take that, Simon Heffer, for some reason! Take that, Peter Mandelson! Mercifully, Littlejohn leaves this and the Heffer's Bottom gag for us to work out ourselves. Nobody stands under the sign and says, "There is a man called Simon Heffer, Peter Mandelson is often known as Mandy and his boyfriend is called Reinaldo, so it's like Reinaldo is in him. These are jokes about bums, gays and things going up bums. Because that's what the gayers do. Tee-hee!" and hide a tight-lipped giggle behind their hand like a geisha.
In one reversal of the theme of insulting people he might not like, late in the novel a judge grants Mickey bail, which he had been refused earlier. The lefty plotters hate him because he isn't a dirty lefty like them. His name is Andrew Roberts. As coincidence would have it, historian Andrew Roberts gave the novel one of its few favourable reviews. Thanks Andrew! The lefties think you're a 'fucking fascist'.
Oh - almost forgot. There's a clash between Mickey's supporters and anti-racist campaigners late in the novel. The acronym for the anti-racists is OPRAH.
Issues with lefties. No, wait, issues with gays. No, wait, lefties...well, same thing innit?
Littlejohn doesn't like liberal left wingers. He shows us this by making every left wing liberal gay, and every gay a liberal left winger. Well, all but one, who dabbled with lesbianism in college but didn't get on with it. Anyway, her husband left her because he's gay, and her son is gay as well. And at least she tried to be gay.
So, left wing = gayyyy!
Despite this, Littlejohn is enormously squeamish about describing homosexuality and none of the gay characters are shown to be in an ordinary homosexual relationship. He also appears to not understand Marxism or liberalism, but I'll save that stuff for the next post.
Justin Fromby, dirty Marxist-plotting lawyer is a gay man whose only outlet is spanking a young man with a rolled up copy of the Evening Standard. He has no other sexual contact with the man at all.
Roberta Peel, dirty Marxist-plotting Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police is probably gay, since the only romantic feeling we see from her is a crush she has on a woman in her police training. Despite this, she and Justin have a sexual relationship that involves Justin masturbating her with an old style police truncheon called Dixon. Justin is only involved because Roberta likes to be handcuffed when this happens and that can't work properly if she keeps one hand free.
Roberta loves to masturbate with improbable objects. Aside from Dixon, she uses a bust of Karl Marx - yes, a bust of Karl Marx - and the barrel of a police revolver. Here's a quick bit of multiple choice.
When Roberta searches Mickey's house and uncovers the evidence he has on her and Fromby, does she:
a) Quickly tuck everything under her arm and scarper
b) Masturbate with one of the many vibrators and KY jelly she's found in a locked box in Mickey's bedroom
c) Wrap the knife from the evidence in a chamois leather and masturbate with that
Answer: c. But the vibrators and KY in b actually exist. More on those later.
I've already mentioned Toynbee. We don't find out any more information about his sex life than that Mickey 'has him down as an iron'. Mickey does this a couple of times, 'have him down as an iron.' It means he's marked someone as homosexual. Who knows why his gaydar is so reliable?
Lastly, the lefty liberal with the gay husband and son is the grotesque drunk and journalist for the Clarion, Georgia Claye. (The Guardian does exist in the novel, we see both Roberta Peel and Toynbee reading it - take that, Guardianistas!) This is the character that Littlejohn is nastiest to, and reveals a deep hatred for left wing journalists. And possibly women.
Georgia is a horrible drunk. Ricky and Mickey go drinking all the time, and Mickey is nine times over the legal driving limit when he's arrested, but it’s fine when they do it. When Georgia drinks, it's evidence of her disgusting, worthless, slovenliness. She exists in the novel for three things - to have an off-screen sexual relationship with Ricky (thus proving he isn't gay), write an article about the nonsense she gullibly swallows from Ilie's girlfriend, and to provide us with an unsettling glimpse into what Littlejohn fantasises about happening in interviews with left wingers. Cue some more multiple choice.
Georgia appears on Ricky's radio show to debate Mickey's case. Despite being involved in a sexual relationship with Georgia (look, he's not proud of it, right), Ricky deliberately plies her with wine. Does Georgia:
a) Forcefully argue her point and leave the show, subsequently changing her mind in the face of Ricky's superior intellect
b) After a hard fought debate, concede that Ricky has the better argument
c) Get pissed, have a hysterical breakdown, start crying and screaming, "BAY-BEE KILLER!" and then shit herself
Answer: c. Really. She shits herself. Page 335.
Georgia does nothing but demean and debase herself. She's wrong about Popescu. She shits herself live on radio. She dies while chasing a man who has broken into her house for all she knows, begging him to stay. Ricky is not shown to care much, even when she dies.
Given the frequency with which Littlejohn is shown up in interviews, this is a most troubling glimpse into his psyche. I'm leaving it there.
Issues with...sex things
Mercifully, we've already seen most of these. But not all of them. Brace yourself, Bridget!
For all the sex things that happen in the novel, we only see two named characters actually having sexual intercourse with one another. (There's also an unnamed couple shagging disgustingly - "The woman was screaming like a stuck pig," - against some bins at Goblin's).
Ilie Popescu and his girlfriend have sex twice. Once in a doorway and once in their 'luxury' hostel. The sex is shown to be violent and animal, and 'in other circumstances, would constitute rape'. These foreign gypsies. Animals.
The weird thing is, this is contrasted by Mickey and Andi - not actually having penetrative sex at all. Andi gives Mickey an unsolicited (like a good wife) blowjob, but it doesn't seem to be reciprocated. Mickey does get an erection when he strokes her thigh the next morning, but she puts him off. That makes Roberta's find of a locked box full of, "Just a magnificent set of vibrators, ranging from twelve inches down to thimble-sized," in Mickey's bedroom seem all the more...weird.
Foreigner sex is dirty and nasty, homosexual sex is weird and not actually sex, but non-foreigner heterosexual sex? That's either something sordid up against a dumpster, something you do with someone you care nothing for and actually find a bit repulsive (and proves you're not gay), or something that is not actually reciprocal - unless the man uses a vibrator, I guess.
I'm no amateur psychologist, so I'm leaving that there too. If I have nightmares, I want them to be about zombies or vampires or falling from a cable car shaped like my mum. These are things I can understand.
Issues with race
Judging by this novel, Littlejohn really hates gypsies. Really, really hates gypsies. Dirty, thieving gyppos, pikeys and dids do nothing but be dirty and thieve and beg and mug people and burn things down and burgle and piss on pictures of Mickey's daughter and take over London so you can't move for gangs of them and smash into cars and kill Mickey's cat and plot up on the cricket pitch and have animal sex that's like rape and try to burn down Mickey's house with him in it.
The only time they do anything not filthy and underhanded is right near the end when it just might save Mickey's bacon if the police find out Popescu was followed to Mickey's house. 'King of the pikeys' Seamus Milne turns up at the police station with the boy who stole the already stolen taxi that Popescu had driven up Heffer's Bottom in. (Sorry). This allows the police to track Popescu by CCTV and spot the Russians after him.
This obsession with gypsies is just as likely to be because the Tony Martin case, which the novel was sort of based on, involved gypsies as it is to be because Littlejohn has deliberately chosen an ethnic group that it's still acceptable to rail against without being called racist by everyone. As David Aaronovitch says in his famous review of the novel, imagine replacing the references to gypsies with ones referring to Jews. Or any other ethnic group.
Mickey at some point tries to claim he isn't 'Romaphobic' (a word coined by Roberta Peel) because Ilie Popescu isn't a gypsy. Except the reader knows he actually is a gypsy, and he even comes from Romania. Whether Littlejohn has forgotten this or whether it's a nod to the readers that yes, gypsies are all scum is something that, for once, is not explained at length.
There are lots of things Littlejohn does that are supposed to mitigate against this and prove the novel isn't racist. In the now very famous confrontation with Will Self (bet he's imagined Self shitting himself in a debate with him and then dying embarrassingly of gay), he says:
...the fact of the matter is one of the main players, his wife is a Greek CypriotFancy that. Not one of the main players, but one of the main players' wives. Of all the races and nationalities he could choose to show he's not racist, he chooses one that's white, but olive skinned and a just a little bit swarthy.
We know Greeks are alright because they open restaurants, but still, "The Bubbles can be just as Grumpy," as the Corleones, "when they put their mind to it." But Andi being Greek proves the book's not racist.
The only Asian I can remember turning up at all in the whole novel is a pathologist, who is described only as, "a balding, slightly overweight Pakistani, about Mickey's age". We hear nothing that he says in his own voice and we never learn his name, and it's not clear how we're supposed to know his nationality. It's probably a coincidence that it's the generic term people used to use to describe all Asians that could be handily shortened, and Littlejohn really did mean to be that specific.
Another thing he says in the discussion with Will Self is:
...the conscience of the book is actually a West Indian.This is the minor character who is described - although we already know he is black since he and his son have already been mentioned several times - as a 'distinguished black man'. Since we already know he's black, this phrase has the effect of sounding like it's been taken off the peg. He's 'a distinguished black man' like Sidney Poitier, not one of those 'musical black men' like Sammy Davis Jr or one of those 'criminal black men' like, well, like his son.
The 'distinguished black man' is Everton Gibbs, a man in an important position in the Commission for Racial Equality. He has been played like a fiddle for the whole novel by the evil, plotting lefties. His son, Trevor, who Peel and Fromby conspired to have released after he slashed a skinhead with a knife, is now a Yardie.
Sure, Littlejohn tries to mitigate against this by telling us briefly that his other kids include a lawyer and some other things I can't remember because we never see them and they're only mentioned once, but still. The west Indian who serves as 'the conscience of the novel' and proves it isn't racist has been played like a fool by white people and has a drug dealing Yardie for a son.
Plus, the only reason Everton Gibbs managed to make it as far as he has is that white lefties secretly plotted to have his son let off for knife crime.
The way Peel Fromby intend to get Trevor Gibbs released after slashing the skinhead is by accusing the officer who arrested him of racist assault, because Everton will be useful to them if he's ever elected councillor. The officer's reaction to this is to say, 'All the spades pull that stroke.' Nice non-racist that he is.
Mickey agrees to get rid of the evidence and let Trevor go in return for them dropping the racist assault claim against the policeman who refers to black people as 'spades' and regularly roughs up prisoners, because he's close to retirement. Mickey doesn't actually know for sure if there actually has been a racist assault, although he suspects not. This is the hero.
There's also a conversation between three white characters where they discuss how they haven't got anything against immigration per se, since they're descended from immigrants or married to one. But they're ancestors all came to work or as genuine refugees:
But that's not what we're dealing with here. There's a full-scale international smuggling racket, gangs of fucking criminals from Eastern Europe and Kurdistan and the government is rolling out the red carpet. Yet raise the question and you're shouted down as some kind of racist."Fancy that.
Issues with his own readers
Ricky, the radio presenter who narrates us going to Hell in a handcart in his news reports, is the character Littlejohn says has some of himself in. As I said in the last post, he's a liberal who becomes a bit more reactionary after he gets mugged.
The more reactionary he becomes, the higher his ratings and the bigger his pay packet, but he has misgivings about his audience. Apparently, "Sometimes the show sounds like a fucking National Front rally," but, "you can pick your enemies, but you can't pick your friends."
Toward the end of the novel, Ricky's listeners demonstrate outside the magistrate's court in support of Mickey French. They're shown to be barely literate caricatures, wearing football shirts and carrying misspelled signs.
At one point, the hostel Ilie lived in blows up, killing five people. At first, it's thought it's a deliberate attack and one of Ricky's listeners phones up to confess, but it turns out to be a totally coincidental gas explosion. Still, it shows that Littlejohn is at least aware of the possibility of incitement that polemic like his might be responsible for. Shame he completely wimps out on it.
Here's a passage that might be enlightening to people who have read more than one Littlejohn column. It happens as Ricky arrives at work:
'What the fuck am I going to say to get them going today?'That's what it feels like, reading a Littlejohn column about wheelie bins and how Peter Mandelson is homosexual and wheelie bins and you couldn't make it up and Del Boy and the wicked witch and wheelie bins and don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!
'Petrol prices?' suggested his producer.
'You're not serious. We did that yesterday. What is this, Groundhog Day?
Actually, here is Littlejohn's latest column. It is about the second item in Ricky's list of issues he's already done that Littlejohn wrote a decade ago. There's also a mention of Peter Mandelson next to a reference to homosexuality. Coodermaykiddapp!
Anyway. That's it. I've had enough of Littlejohn's issues, and I jolly well hope you have too. Tomorrow will bring the final post. It'll be 'To Hell in a Handcart' - doesn't even bloody make sense anyway'. Then, I will finally achieve closure for this most traumatic of ordeals.
Back to part 1:
'To Hell in a Handcart' - Part 1
Onward to part 3:
'To Hell in a Handcart' - Part 3: doesn't even make any bloody sense