George Orwell Vs. Raoul Moat

| December 3, 2018 | Reply

I am, naturally, a member of a book club.

You know the drill.

A bunch of people who know each other agree to read the same book. Some of them actually read it. They all get together to talk past each other, share insipid “analyses” of the text and then abandon the pretence and just gossip.

It’s a good use of everyone’s time.

The next book we’re reading – or so I’ve just been told – is George Orwell’s 1984.

Which is funny, because I can absolutely guarantee we agreed on Anna Karenina, so where the hell 1984 came from I don’t know.

But apparently, it’s going to be 1984 and we’d always agreed it was going to be 1984.

If you’ve read 1984 and absorbed its message, then you’ll recognise the last sentence as an excellent joke by me. But it’s also exactly what happened.

I’m not too bothered, really. I’ve read both of them. I’m not sure I’ll make the next meeting anyway, so I’ve prepared the following original observations to send round the group WhatsApp:

  1. Tyranny is bad.
  2. If you control history, you control the future (including what book we’re going to read for book club, apparently).
  3. Individualism will always be seen as a threat to centralised rule.
  4. Technology can be used for good or bad.
  5. There will always be inequality, even (or especially) in societies that centralise power in the name of ending inequality (the irony!)
  6. Winston Smith is, like, all of us.
  7. Rats are bastards.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book. But really, is anyone in our book club going to bring anything new to the table?

Here’s a book I wish we’d read. I’d never heard of it until a few days ago, and now I’m half way through and it’s like nothing I’ve read before.

It’s called You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat], all about the 2010 manhunt that launched a thousand Paul Gascoigne fishing rod gags.

It’s written in the second person, as if you actually are Raoul Moat on his notorious murder spree. The chapters have titles like YOU WILL DIE IN SIX DAYS.

It’s probably not suitable as a stocking filler, but would make a great Secret Santa present if you want to mess with someone’s head.

Will the book club go for it? I doubt it. But it would make for a genuinely fresh discussion.

Here are some excerpts, taken from a recording Moat made while on the run:

‘As far as I’m concerned the medical evidence proves I didn’t do it. I’ve been punching people for years and whenever I punch them they get a huge amount of swelling, so there’s no possible way I could have hit a child and not caved them in. It’s just common sense.’

Another excerpt:

‘The next thing is, they try to send me to court without footwear. Now by law I have to have footwear in court. I think that’s how the law works anyway, so I said that to them, and in the end they gave me shoes, size six, even though I’m size twelve, and me being me, I just chewed the backs off and used them as flip-flops.’

And another:

‘The main thing is, there’s a law for the public and a law for Raoul, and the law for Raoul is I cannot defend myself. A herd of wildebeest with flick-knives can try to do me in and I just have to stand there and take it.’

You get a weird, half-mad feeling when you’re reading it. Sentences go on for whole pages, endless rivers of consciousness from a dead man’s mind, filtered through another man’s mind (journalist Andrew Hankinson, who wrote the book) and fired into your own head as alien thoughts and feelings.

It’s uncomfortably voyeuristic. Most of the time I’m thinking “What is the point of this book?” And maybe that is the point. There’s no grand narrative. No phony “attempt to understand what drives someone to blah-de-blah-blah-blah”.

Just a bloke on a rampage, feeling sorry for himself, remembering that time he chewed the back off some shoes. A few asides from the author in brackets to tell him/you where his/your account is unreliable or disputed.

Some shootings.


I can’t promise you’ll rate it, but I can promise it won’t be like the last book you read.


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For Betting Rant


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