Nigel Farage: ‘The Purple Revolution’ – in seven paragraphs

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1. By the time you finish reading this sentence, over 150,000 unemployed Romanian single mothers will have entered the UK with the intention of claiming £40,000 per year in benefits and free cosmetic surgery on the NHS. It is a quite extraordinary statistic. Probably because it’s completely untrue. But the use of facts has never been UKIP policy. I’ve always been clear about that. Newspapers often misrepresent us as being a party that relies heavily on empirical data and expert analysis to gain a political foothold. What rubbish. Appallingly, since Britain joined the European Union in 1973, the use of facts has nearly quadrupled at the expense of distorted anecdotal evidence and fear-mongering. UKIP has fought to reverse this disturbing trend with increasing success, culminating in the 2014 European elections which we won with 27.1% of the vote. This should not be a surprise. Recent figures suggest nearly 106% of the population believe rising immigration is a concern. On this topic, UKIP is the only party prepared to say what no-one else is thinking. We are here to stay.

2. I was educated at Dulwich College, a magnificent public school in South London. The social mix was astonishing, my classmates ranging from sons of City bankers to sons of local bankers. I found the academic side of things a complete bore. The universities of the day were filled to the rafters with intelligent people keen to develop their skills. Not Nige’s cuppa. I went to work in the City as a commodities trader instead. The City was a strict meritocracy, provided your father was well connected. From what I remember, trading was great fun. I was in the pub most of the time. We’d go out for six hour liquid lunches and then stumble back to the office to catch the last couple of hours of the New York market. It’s bloody hard work dealing with pesky decimal points and small print when you’ve had a few pints. A client once instructed me to sell £500,000 worth of copper futures and I accidentally bought £5,00,000 worth of zinc instead. We laughed hysterically for hours. Needless to say, I rose through the ranks pretty quickly.

3. The City’s golden age came to an abrupt end in October 1986 when the government opened up the UK’s financial sector to foreign banks and handed a chunk of regulatory oversight to Brussels. News of these reforms broke unexpectedly and I nearly choked on my pint: I quickly ordered another three to be on the safe side. Followed by breakfast. Of course, American banks also profited from these changes, but they spoke English so it wasn’t so much of a problem. The new regulations changed the culture of the City from a chaotic old boys’ club, where no-one really knew what they were doing, to one of accountability and client protection. It was a disaster. Suddenly, well-educated foreigners started swarming in and doing our jobs more effectively and skillfully. I quickly tired of this new emphasis on competence and started Farage Futures, which was moderately successful until I wound it up in good standing in 2002. Anyone who says it was a failure and became insolvent is lying and can expect a letter from my lawyers. By this point, I realised my true calling was to rescue Britain from the damage being inflicted by fanatical technocrats in Brussels.

4. On Christmas Eve 1986 I felt a shuddering pain in my bollocks. I went to see a doctor, who happened to be Indian. Needless to say, I was misdiagnosed with an infection. Fortunately I went to see a proper English doctor a few days later. I had testicular cancer. I was very lucky. If it wasn’t for my profound belief that anyone who speaks with a funny accent doesn’t know what they’re doing, I might not be here today. The influx of foreign medical staff has inevitably led to a lower standard of care in the NHS. Mass immigration has stretched the NHS to breaking point because foreigners tend to be hypochondriacs. This is just common sense. I had another brush with the NHS when I was involved in a plane crash on election day in 2010. I had my doubts about the plane’s safety because it was Polish, but I was already on my fifth pint of Bombardier so jumped in anyway. It crashed, and I was hospitalised. I was cared for by a Romanian nurse. To my astonishment she didn’t mess anything up or recruit me to join a human trafficking ring, and I made a decent recovery.

5. People will read that and accuse me of being sexist. Utter drivel. Some of my closest relatives are women. Including my wife, who is German. To all those who accuse me of being xenophobic: I’m married to a foreigner for Christ’s sake! What infuriates me most is when people accuse me of having a sobriety problem. There is absolutely no evidence that I’ve allowed periods of teetotalism to affect my political judgement. All I ask is that the media elite get their facts right. Anyway, I was elected as an MEP in 1999 under the fledgling UKIP banner. The first thing to say about Brussels is that it’s a complete dump. I was staggered by the number of foreigners there who think that European integration is a good idea. WRONG. Almost all MEPs are corrupt and on the take. I aligned myself with some of the few good eggs in the place, such as Marine LePen and Geert Wilders. People say Marine and Geert are anti-Semitic and objectionable. To be clear, I do not advocate the public expression of xenophobic sentiments. As a friend, I’ve asked them to tone down the clarity and rely more on innuendo. What more can a chap do?

6. Support for UKIP has grown rapidly since the last election, when I took over as leader. Unfortunately, we have attracted some nutters in that time. I don’t mind admitting it. All parties have their fair share of racists, homophobes and misogynists don’t they? Do I want to lead a party comprised of moderate “politically correct” types? Of course not. Piss off and join the Greens if that’s your thing. We are a party made up of absolute lunatics real characters, and I make no apology for that. Over the last five years we have made real progress in modernising the party: I am proud to say that it is no longer a complete disaster zone, merely a shambles. We toured the country talking to real people about a whole range of issues: immigrants jumping the queue for social housing; immigrants having the nerve to talk foreign in public places; gay immigrants eating children’s pets. All the big ones. Core British values, such as the right for builders and plumbers to do shoddy work at inflated prices whilst clocking off in time for Pointless every day, are being eroded by immigration. It’s just not on.

7. UKIP gained additional credibility in the second half of 2014 when two Tory MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, defected to our ranks and won by-elections as UKIP candidates. Wooing Douglas was difficult. He wanted several assurances as to UKIP’s professionalism and future direction. I made up a load of stuff that seemed to convince him. Mark was quite literally a different kettle of fish. To be honest, the man’s a bit of an oddball. This made him a perfect fit for our platform. We unveiled him at our party conference, to the cheering of the tens of UKIP-ers who had bothered to turn up. It was like a bomb had gone off in Westminster. A Reckless bomb. And I was the maverick anarchist who had thrown that bomb into the House of Commons like a hot potato. As we draw closer to the 2015 election, it is clear that UKIP is a real force is British politics. Will we win more than a handful of seats? Who knows. I’m contesting South Thanet in Kent, so expect to see a lot more of my gurning sweaty chops between now and the election if you live near there. Right, that’s more than enough. I’m off to the pub.

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Suzanne Collins: ‘The Hunger Games’ (Book One) – in seven paragraphs

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1. I wake up. My time asleep was short. As short as these sentences. I look over at Prim, my angelic younger sister, and my mother. Because my dad was blown up in a mining accident five years ago, they are both vulnerable. This is their only notable characteristic. We are poor and just about scrape by. I don’t let it get me down though. I’m stoical and resourceful. But also kind and sentimental. To be clear: you’re supposed to root for me as a sympathetic character. Someone needs to provide for my family because we live in the unforgiving District 12 in Panem, ruled over by the Capitol. A totalitarian dystopia, is what I’m saying. Got it? I slip out into the forbidden woods to hunt. “Hello Katniss,” says Gale. “I’m Gale, your platonic companion. I’ve known you for years and now you’re sixteen and I’m eighteen. Why don’t you tell me loads of stuff that I already know, so we can set the scene for the rest of the plot? By the way, happy Hunger Games!” Gale’s words hit me like a ton of clichéd bricks.

2. “Of course!” I exclaim. “Today is the reaping, where a boy and a girl are selected at random from each of Panem’s twelve Districts as ‘tributes’ to participate in a televised fight to the death.” “Remind me why we do this?” Gale asks. “Because the Capitol wants to demonstrate its control over the Districts and deter uprisings,” I reply. “That sounds remarkably similar to the plot of Battle Royale,” says Gale. “Shut up,” I hiss. Crowds are gathering for the District 12 reaping ceremony. The female name is drawn – shit! It’s my vulnerable sister, Prim Everdeen! I immediately volunteer to take Prim’s place, strengthening my heroine credentials. I’m good like that. Some boy called Peeta is selected as male tribute. I immediately sense our relationship will be complicated, probably forging an uneasy alliance at first but giving way to mutual distrust as things go along. We are whisked away to the Justice Building to say goodbye to our families. I refuse to cry because I’m strong and emotionally resilient. When your dad is killed in a mining accident, you grow up fast.

3. To go straight into the Games at this point in the narrative would leave the book about two hundred pages long and that just won’t do. So there are plenty of pre-Games rituals to go through before the violent bits get underway. Sorry. A high-speed train transports us to the Capitol. I sample lots of nice food that we don’t get to taste in District 12 because, as I mentioned in the set-up, we are poor. We are treated to plenty of other luxuries before the Games. This satisfies my hunger, I think. I feel like a fish out of water, i.e. out of place. “Katniss, you’re really skilful with a bow and arrow aren’t you?” says Peeta. “That probably means you stand a decent chance when the Games begin.” “But you’re big and strong,” I reply, “probably on account of you being a baker’s son. So that gives you an advantage also!” Former winner Haymitch Abernathy is our standard issue tough-talking mentor and I hate him. But then I realise that he actually talks a lot of sense and despite his gruff demeanour, he is On Our Side.

4. Ahead of the Games we must take part in a flashy opening ceremony, go through intensive training, and film a live TV interview. “The tributes have different characteristics and strengths. Some are physically imposing, others cunning and strategic. This means that the Games are a battle of wits as much as fighting prowess,” says everyone for a hundred pages. I find myself dwelling on the contrast between the opulent decadence of the Capitol and the barbarism of the Games. It seems perverse that a hallmark of a civilised society is its desensitisation to on screen violence. Did someone say SUBTEXT? The other tributes don’t appear to ponder these big questions. Another reason to root for me. I can’t work out whether Peeta is playing a game by being nice to me before the Games. Flashback to when he gave me some free bread when I was desperately poor. So you can tell he’s not totally bad. But just to reiterate, we will soon be deadly rivals: there can only be one winner in the Games. It’s all so confusing. I wish Gale was here to explain everything.

5. Before too long the Games begin in a large woodland compound. There is an early skirmish for the available weapons and supplies near the starting point. I run in the opposite direction because the key message is brains over brawn, remember? I narrowly avoid a knife to the face. Several tributes are butchered instantly. Shit just got real. “Phew, I’m not dead yet,” I say aloud for some unknown reason. I run and run for miles into a valley before camping out in a tree overnight. Then I hear voices of other tributes approaching. Some have grouped together to pick off the weaker candidates. Conveniently they stop right below my hiding place. Peeta is with them! That traitorous coward. I’m sure everything is as it seems and there are no hidden agendas. In the morning I drop a nest of genetically modified terror wasps on them, killing a couple but getting a bit stung myself in the process. Peeta helps me escape, so maybe he’s a goodie after all? The tension is stomach-churning but let’s face it, you all know I’m going to win because I’m the heroine. And there are two sequels.

6. I rely on my wits to kill a few more rivals in various clever ways to prevent the plot from becoming massively repetitive. I am assisted by Rue, a young girl from District 11. She reminds me of my vulnerable sister so I must protect her. Oh, she’s been impaled by a spear. Oops. “Win it for me, Katniss!” she breathes, as she dies. I feel very sad. Suddenly, a voice booms throughout the arena, announcing a sudden rule change: now TWO tributes can win if they are from the same district! This means Peeta and I can win together! I spell out to myself. Plot goalposts moved appropriately to set up a more interesting conclusion, I eventually find Peeta, who is badly wounded. “We must team up and kill the other four remaining tributes,” I explain. “By the way, I think I have feelings for you that I can’t articulate.” “I also have felt this way for a long time,” he replies, “Let’s use up some plot space going through some uninteresting backstory. Why don’t you describe some of your happiest memories?”

7. Peeta’s wounds become infected. “I won’t let you die,” I bleat. “You have quite a big role to play in the sequels.” The remaining tributes gradually turn on each other until only Cato, the Plot Nemesis from District Two, remains alive. Peeta and I head back to the central area where the Games began. Cato is there too, certain to kill us. But then he is savaged by a pack of mutated super dogs and dies. Peeta and I have won! A voice booms out informing us of a massive stitch up: Peeta and I will have to fight to the death after all. Bastards. We plan to go all Romeo and Juliet and kill ourselves, before being hastily announced as joint winners! BUT – Haymitch informs us that our refusal to fight to the death has infuriated President Snow and we are now enemies of the state! The Games were tough, but perhaps the biggest fight is yet to come, I think: politics can be as cutthroat as any blood sport. That tees up the theme for the sequel by the way.

End of Book One.

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Morrissey: ‘Autobiography’ – in seven paragraphs

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1. In the beginning there was Steven. Naturally, my birth almost kills my mother when my inflated head ruptures her birth canal. I emerge into the squalid light discussing modernism, having been seduced by Proust in utero. Thus begins a lifelong love affair. With myself. My unenlightened parents, ever committed to being dim-witted, are poor Irish immigrants: trussed by their trust in God’s wisdom, their pitiful lives revolve around the potpourri of popery they call the Catholic church. My miserable childhood is spent absorbing Manchester’s unique bleak vistas: pain behind each pane as I stare in through the shabby shop windows on rain-swept Alexandra Road. Primary school is made hellish by teachers administering beatings with satanic relish. I am damned, my tear ducts remain dammed by dreaming of a future in which My Brilliance is recognised. Pointless alliteration threads my throbbing thrusting thoughts. My unkind mind swirls like an overwrought simile. This is the Book of Saint Steven: heaven knows it’s unreadable now.

2. My escape from life’s prosaic mosaic, the glum humdrum, lies in music and television. These provide me with a glimmer of glamour, a glimpse of what life could be like if I pulled my head out of my arse for a minute or two. Miss World is a snapshot of the quixotic erotic, the broadcast a technicolour antidote to the drab grey of my urban struggle. Miss Brazil waves (to me?) as she walks across the stage of the Lyceum Theatre, her dress even more purple than this prose. [Little do I know that I myself will one day command the very same stage when I become successful and rich (much more on this later)]. But alas, such ephemeral childhood joy: it is time for bed. I return to desolate reality: dismally genuine, genuinely dismal. The world turns upon its axis. Each morning elicits new mourning: no-one understands me and I am friendless. The stigma of being an enigma repels all. Or perhaps everyone just thinks I’m a complete twat.

3. My teenage years are spent in ironic detachment. I smile at each absurd word spoken by my teachers, a biased jury whose features curdle into fury at the knowledge that I am infinitely cleverer than they are. Music is my lifeblood: the essence of my pubescence. My list of heroes grows. T-Rex, Roxy Music and Lou Reed all speak to my soul, but the sole transcendent moment is when David Bowie releases Starman in 1972 and the world changes forever. Its louche effeminate mettle is a triumph over crass heavy metal. To this day I maintain that Hunky Dory is one of the greatest albums ever recorded, behind only The Sound of the Smiths and The Very Best of Morrissey. I listen to the New York Dolls day and night, feeding on the carnal energy of their music, and I am incited by their insight to explore my burgeoning sexuality. Girls or boys? To me just noise: the joys of the flesh secondary to perfecting my persona of tortured genius.

4. I leave school and my life is a void which I cannot avoid, and between 1975 and 1980 I am mostly unemployed, exhausted by my own pretentiousness. The situation is grave: my grave seems a welcome refuge. I MUST sing yet have no outlet, no connections, no stage. My flair needs a flare. I shuffle around music venues trying to catch a break with those who move and shake in the industry. They mostly tell me to fuck off. I travel to New York and London to seek opportune fortune, but find the streets are paved with shit. I miraculously make some friends, although after becoming famous I immediately stop taking their calls. One of them introduces me to Johnny Marr, a guitarist: he connects us with a drummer and a bassist and we become The Smiths. Immediately, artistic creativity pours inexorably from our pores. I am lead vocals: free as a hawk to paint the canvas with as many appalling mixed metaphors as I want. Just like that my life transitions from risible to visible, and success beckons.

5. The tortured poetic drivel I’ve written so far is bloody knackering, so I’m going to tone that right down and use the second half to comprehensively do over anyone who’s ever crossed or slighted me. The Smiths’ early records are rejected by idiotic labels like EMI. Their loss. Asinine producers reject us out of hand. We eventually sign on with the amateurish Rough Trade Records. With hindsight it’s clear that they were embarrassingly incompetent and owe their financial success to my genius. I don’t want to name names but producer John Porter was particularly useless. And fat. But then…we break through when our debut album The Smiths hits the charts. I don’t have the exact vulgar numbers in front of me but I believe it reached number two and stayed in the Top 40 for 33 weeks, selling 203,194 copies. I have emerged from my pendulous chrysalis. Steven is dead. Unfazed by this new phase I have become Morrissey. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

6. Suddenly, The Smiths are elevated to the pop pantheon. Hit after hit is unspooled from my teeming brain, but I’m not going to bore you with the details. Instead, here are two hundred pages on the tedious legal wranglings with the record label that followed. In the background, Eighties Britain bows to Thatcher’s stature, discussing its disgust at being pole-axed by the poll tax but remaining in servitude. Innocent animals are legally killed for their meat, an act matched in frenzied savagery only by gory Tory destruction of the poor. Reviews for some albums are mixed but I’m not one to bear a grudge. Make up your own mind: I’ve spent a hundred pages revisiting them. Stupid journalists interview me, insisting on twisting my wonderful words: a concerted agenda to out me as a bender. Sell-out crowds across the globe adore me, yet some still abhor me: a tosser tosses a sausage that hits my face during a rendition of Meat is murder in Paris. I turn the other cheek. I have suffered for my art; ironically blind to the fact that such suffering has made me insufferable.

7. Then all of a sudden, one morning in 1987 The Smiths are no more. No insight on why that happened, but it wasn’t my fault. Morrissey must plough a lone furrow. After some pleading from those around him, Morrissey begins his solo career in 1994 with Vauxhall and I, which naturally swoops in at number one: its emotional cargo generates a farrago and fans are my followers rejoice. The tone becomes ever darker, fading to black as my obsession with death and misery seeps out. Friends come and go and come and go: my patience is low and I tell them so. Mike Joyce, the useless, craven drummer from The Smiths, decides to sue me for unpaid royalties. I lose at court, but I’m over it. Here are fifty pages on why I should have won and why the stupid judge is an idiot. Zzzzz. In disgust I leave England, long after England left me. My solo career is moderately successful and I continue to perform gigs in front of stupid fans I despise. Here endeth the lesson. I started something I unfortunately finished.

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J.K. Rowling: ‘The Casual Vacancy’ – in seven paragraphs

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1. Barry Fairbrother fell to the ground, an aneurysm ripping through his brain like the Hogwarts Express going at full speed. Fucking SHIT! he thought before he died, the author keen to show that this was going to be very different to those bloody Potter books so would people take it seriously please? The village of Pagford, and readers everywhere, mourned the death of the only likeable character in sight. Various other thinly-drawn inhabitants, each more loathsome and depressed than the last, were gradually woven into a narrative that evidently aspired to be a Dickensian portrait of social decay but instead resembled one of the blander episodes of Midsomer Murders. After several thousand pages of this it was time for someone to explain where the plot was going. “Barry’s death opens up a casual vacancy on Pagford Parish Council,” boomed obese deli-owner Howard Mollison to someone or other. The Council was bitterly divided on whether it should continue to financially support the Fields (a nearby housing estate) or lift the drawbridge and let the stinky underclass rot. Then everyone repeatedly told each other to fuck off until it was time to cry themselves to sleep. That was Pagford, and the plot, in a nutshell.

2. Barry’s death sent shockwaves through Pagford and the Fields. “I’m propa faarkin torn up, ‘ee woz a decent bloke,” said Krystal Weedon in school assembly the next day. Krystal was from the Fields and wore hoop earrings, fake tan and other symbols of working class immorality that the author had apparently researched by watching a few episodes of The Jeremy Kyle Show. Krystal literally had a heart of gold, but no-one in Pagford noticed because they were all too busy voting Conservative and reading the Daily Mail. “Don’t worry, middle-class ambivalence towards poverty isn’t the only Big Social Issue to be explored,” said underfunded social worker Kay Bawden. “That’s a relief,” said self-harming ethnic minority Sukhvinder Jawanda. “Fucking shut it,” said cartoonish domestic abuser Simon Price. “Stop ya bawlin’ an giv us sum more smack,” said doomed junkie Terri Weedon. Everyone was a morose participant in an orgy of resentment, misery and anxiety: how they longed for Neville Longbottom to accidentally turn himself into a frog to provide some much-needed comic relief. J.K. had her ‘Proper Author’ hat on, however, so humorous interludes were in even shorter supply than  three-dimensional characters.

3. The issue of Barry’s replacement on the Parish Council was slowly gathering pace as a plot point. As chairman of the Council, Fat Howard wielded considerable influence in the matter and intended to fill the vacancy with his pompous son Miles. Fat Howard chuckled at his clever wheeze: Miles’s election was a surefire way of guaranteeing that the Council would vote to decouple from the Fields. But other villagers were rumoured to be throwing their hats into the ring, including Barry’s best friend Colin Wall, deputy headteacher and nervous wreck. “Barry cared deeply about the Fields and the welfare of its inhabitants,” explained Colin, clumsily: “I just want to do right by Barry.” In a turn of events that stretched credibility to breaking point, Simon Price decided to step away from punching his son Andrew in the face to also stand for election: a three-way race between Miles, Colin and Simon now seemed inevitable. As everyone stifled yawns, it was time to lob yet another social issue into the plot like a rogue bludger in a Quidditch game. “Oi,” shouted Krystal, “Aaat ‘ere in chav land, me mam Terri’s shootin up agen and might lose custody of me bruvva, Little Robbie.”

4. Andrew Price hated his father Simon intensely, and the thought of him being elected to the Council filled Andrew with rage. He immediately knew what he had to do: hack in to the Council website (using coding techniques that he had helpfully remembered from school computing lessons some months before) and pose as ‘The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother’ to smear Simon with accusations of handling stolen goods. Isn’t this basically identical to when Harry always remembers a convenient/obscure spell learned in class in order to defeat Voldemort? more attentive readers wondered. “Never mind that, I’m going to fucking kill whoever did this right after I’ve used some more gratuitous cunting swear words!” roared Simon as he withdrew from the race. Out of spite, self-harming Sukhvinder had coincidentally decided to use the same hacking technique (gleaned from that all-important computing lesson on which the entire plot hinged, where everyone had conveniently been paying attention) to post in the guise of Barry’s ghost and make salacious remarks about Parminder, her own mother and the local GP. Then, unbelievably, Stuart ‘Fats’ Wall did the same thing to anonymously suggest that his father Colin was a paedo.

5. The posts attributed to Barry’s ghost meant that an air of political intrigue hung over Pagford like a well-worn cliché. The race for the empty Council seat was now a straight fight between Miles and Colin, the latter of whom was in the throes of a nervous breakdown. Over in the Fields, Terri’s attempts at going clean had fallen apart and she’d gone back on the game to fund her heroin addiction, whilst her dealer raped Krystal by inserting his turgid member repeatedly into her unguarded vagina. “This is a right barrel of faarkin laughs innit?” said Krystal to Fats, with whom she was pursuing a grubby sexual relationship. “I dunno,” said Fats, “I’m adopted and may have been the product of an incentuous relationship, which could explain why I’m such a sociopathic twat.” In the background, minor characters such as Samantha (mid-life crisis), Gaia (alienated teen), Gavin (emotional train-wreck) and Tessa (diabetic bloater) were apparently competing to determine: (a) who could be the most unlikeable;  and (b) who had the bleakest life. It made We Need to Talk About Kevin look like an episode of Miranda. But the worst was yet to come.

6. The election, which had long since ceased to be remotely engaging, resulted in Miles prevailing over Colin by a ratio of two votes to one. But the mood was far from celebratory. The Council had erupted into civil war between the good guys (characters like Parminder and Kay who believed in continuing Barry’s campaign for social justice and the rehabilitation of drug addicts) and the bad guys (i.e. Fat Howard and Miles, who believed that the underclass represented a threat to Pagford’s stability). You could scarcely tell that the author was a big Labour Party donor. Fat Howard threw a lavish sixty-fifth birthday party at the church hall. “Hello,” said his daughter Patricia, sauntering over in her trouser suit from nowhere in particular, “I’m a lesbian.” “BINGO,” shouted a reader who’d been counting the number of social issues that it was possible to squeeze into a single book. The next morning, the Ghost of Barry Fairbrother struck YET AGAIN, posting a story about Fat Howard having an affair with his business partner Maureen. Howard had his inevitable massive heart attack, which had been clearly signposted from page one.

7. Krystal took Little Robbie with her to see Fats in Pagford for an al fresco shagging. “Stay ‘ere and don’ move til I finished blowing Fats in a bush down by the river,” she said inappropriately to her three year old brother. Little Robbie wandered off looking vulnerable. Several other characters saw him but symbolically did nothing, because middle-class abandonment of the poor was one of J.K.’s big themes. “Where th’ fuck’s Robbie gone?” shouted Krystal when she emerged from the bush with Fats. “Ah shit ‘e’s only gone an’ drowned in the river!” she exclaimed. “Only one fing for it–better go n top meself with the last of Terri’s smack”. This has all gone a bit Trainspotting thought everyone, as Krystal barricaded herself in the bathroom before injecting a lethal dose of Golden Brown. The story concluded with a joint funeral for Krystal and Robbie. “This puts things in perspective,” said one of the mourners. “I think I’ve resolved a lot of my issues and become a better person as a result.” “I’ve resolved a lot of my issues too,” said another mourner. “Shall we all live happily ever after?” Not with a Tory government in charge, said J.K. clunkily, having the last word.

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Owen Jones: “The Establishment – And How They Get Away With It” – in seven paragraphs

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1. What is the modern British Establishment? It is a vague concept. I ask Lord Butler, a wealthy old duffer and former Cabinet Secretary. “I’m not sure,” he says airily, his heels digging into Katie, a single mother on benefits he uses as a footstool. I also ask Derek, who mans the self-checkout aisle at my local M&S Simply Food. He doesn’t know either. This conclusively demonstrates that no-one in Britain can satisfactorily define the Establishment, so I have instead used the following non-partisan criteria: (1) greedy corporations run by feckless capitalist pig-dogs; (2) craven public institutions polluted by Thatcherite ideology; and (3) anyone else I suspect of being part of the blatant conspiracy to prevent Ed Miliband from taking his rightful place as Prime Minister. What is clear is that the Establishment is bound together by shared ideology and mutual self-interest rather than by class or background, so for the avoidance of doubt the fact that I studied at Oxford is completely irrelevant. Anyway, this distracts from the real issue: the terrible damage being inflicted on British society by chief Tory death-eater David Cameron and his Old Etonian clique.

2. The new Establishment was probably formed on 3 April 1947 at a conference held in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland. Here, crazed Austrian psychopath Friedrich Hayek (free-market economist and author of The Road to Serfdom) articulated his laissez-faire ideology: i.e. a means of systematically obliterating society’s poorest and most vulnerable. Hayek’s ideas were considered revolutionary and were largely ignored during the post-WWII consensus era. This was a happy time: my research indicates that there was no crime, no unemployment and free money for everyone. Alas, this all ended in 1979 upon the election of Grand High Witch Margaret Thatcher, a devotee of Hayek’s “neo-liberal” economic strategy. Thatcher was the architect of diabolical policies to roll back the size of the state, such as privatisation and lower tax rates. I asked three Marxist activists, some bloke I met in the Guardian canteen and Neil Kinnock whether these policies had destroyed Britain: they all said yes. This is clear proof that they did. However, Thatcher’s demented worship of the free-market is now at the heart of Establishment dogma and is fiercely upheld by its core institutions (the Murdoch press, the police, bankers, MPs, etc.) who connive to preserve the status quo mainly at the expense of starving orphans.

3. One of the hallmarks of the new Establishment is its reliance on think tanks and lobbyists to advance its evil causes: I have chosen to widen my definition of ‘Establishment’ just so I can give them a good kicking.  I have coffee with some pantomime villains lobbyists, who have succeeded in promoting a low-tax, low-public-spending governance model. Disturbingly, I can reveal that some of these lobbyists are funded by corporations in order to promote their capitalist interests. As we know, corporations are inherently bad because their intention is to be profitable. Some businessmen and lobbyists even know MPs personally and often socialise together. What a disgrace. Completely different to the incestuous relationship between trade unions and Labour MPs in the 1970s, which doesn’t fit with The Narrative so let’s gloss over it and bang on about corporations being all corporation-y…. shadowy network….elitist conspiracy….smash the poor…etc.

4. The Establishment could not survive without the slavish support of all British media apart from The Guardian, which is the lone voice of Truth. (If you’re reading, please keep paying me for my weekly column). All newspapers suck up to the Establishment and promote its neo-liberal agenda because Rupert Murdoch is a tyrant and all newspapers exist solely do his bidding, regardless of whether he owns them. The media pick on and demonise the vulnerable in society, protecting corporations and MPs from scrutiny. ‘What about the Daily Telegraph exposing the MPs’ expenses scandal? Or the aggressive scrutiny of the Iraq War inquiries?’ I hear you ask. Errrm, that kind of completely contradicts my argument…but look over here, one MP fiddled his expenses to build a duck house at his multi-billion pound country estate! Now I’ve distracted you, lets go back to some more of my exclusive discoveries: (1) proprietors like Rupert Murdoch buy newspapers in order to promote their interests rather than as a benevolent public service; (2) politicians like to get favourable coverage from newspapers; and (3) newspapers often use dubious tactics. I speak to some people who have received negative coverage from Murdoch newspapers. They didn’t like it.

5. The Establishment also relies on the police to enforce its tyrannical, authoritarian worldview. The police have been lapdogs of the government ever since Thatcher increased their pay in the 1980s, a cynical tactic to win their support ahead of her bid to obliterate the trade unions simply for her own personal pleasure. This was a terrible shame, because my research indicates that the trade unions were utterly blameless and were led by saints like Arthur Scargill, a modern day Gandhi. Examining the evidence, one can link every policing scandal of the last thirty years to Friedrich Hayek’s belief in the free market. For example, the Hillsborough disaster and subsequent police cover up was clearly an inevitable result of lower tax rates for top earners. I’m not quite sure how, but it sounded convincing in my mind. Furthermore, the Stephen Lawrence tragedy was a natural consequence of Thatcher’s privatisation programme. Or something. What we do know is that the police, the government and the media are all in cahoots with each other to advance the same mutually beneficial interests. Ah – the Andrew Mitchell ‘Plebgate’ scandal has just broken, which suggests the complete opposite of what I’ve just written. Bollocks. Time to fudge a non-conclusion before moving swiftly on.

6. We can all agree that the City is awful – full of soulless spivs on the take who like nothing more than giving poor people a good thwack with their corporate umbrellas. I meet Hugo, a 24 year old city lawyer who almost literally vomits money at me. I put it to him that he is one of the utter shits who hasn’t been held to account for bringing the global economy to its knees in 2008. “But I’ve just started my training contract,” he witters, “I was still at school in 2008”. This is a typical excuse peddled by greedy finance types, but it won’t wash. Later that day I meet Doris, a frail pensioner who has recently lost her housing benefit. These two anecdotal examples prove that the Establishment cosies up to the rich and despises the poor. As the City is a central pillar of the Establishment, ex-commodities trader Nigel Farage is naturally an Establishment figure. Hmm…but he’s also leader of a fringe party that is challenging the Westminster elite. Oh dear…I’ve tied myself up in knots. Here are some more statistics about bankers’ bonuses juxtaposed with stories about public spending cuts.

7. Intellectual powerhouse Russell Brand has described me as ‘our generation’s Orwell’, a comparison that I find so embarrassing and undeserved that I’ve splashed it all over the front cover of this book. In order to live up to that billing you’re probably expecting me to come up with some solutions to the various problems I’ve identified above. It is a truth universally acknowledged that top down, infantilising statism hobbled by an enormous bureaucracy is preferable to our current system of capitalism, so we need to revolt against the Establishment and replace its central figures with errr…another set of ideologues that have a worldview more compatible with my own. We need to rebuild trade unions to their 1970s glory, so that they can effectively hold the government to ransom by striking whenever they feel like it. We need to tax earned income above £25,000 a year at a 99% flat rate. We need to introduce a tax on air, as statistics I’ve just made up show that the rich tend to breathe more than the underprivileged. My final comment is to reiterate that anything bad that’s ever happened to anyone is almost certainly Margaret Thatcher’s fault. Or Rupert Murdoch’s. Or… [cont…another 50 pages].

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Gillian Flynn: ‘Gone Girl’ – in seven paragraphs

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1.
Nick Dunne – The Day Of
Whenever I think of my wife Amy, I imagine her delicate skull and what it would feel like to scoop out her brain and decipher what she is thinking [Early hint: our marriage is pretty fucked up]. We moved to North Carthage, my hometown in Missouri, from Manhattan two years ago when we both lost our vague journalism jobs. We were once madly in love, but now Amy tacitly despises everything about our new life and I’ve grown to resent her because she’s a passive-aggressive cow. It’s Amy’s fault we’re so unhappy: I’ve done nothing wrong, I narrated unreliably. On the morning of our fifth anniversary I was at The Bar downtown, which I co-own with my cardboard, plot-enabling sister Margo. “Nick, your demeanour today suggests that you aren’t entirely happy,” she divined, conveniently prompting me to describe my horrible, dysfunctional marriage in more detail. Then we got a call: Amy was missing.
Amy Elliott – 8 January 2005 (Diary Entry)
Tra-la-la! I’m SO HAPPY. I met a boy called Nick at a party. He is handsome and kooky. We are so perfect together. SO perfect. I foresee a long and diabolically cute future together where nothing ever goes wrong and there would be no reason, for example, for me to become psychotic and frame him for my murder. Nick is my soulmate and I love him.

2.
Nick Dunne – The Day Of
“Amy! Amy!” I bleated unconvincingly as I searched our house. The living room had been trashed, as if (pay attention) there had been a struggle. The cops turned up, led by an ugly woman with a face like a pig (I’m not a misogynist, honestly) who introduced herself as Detective Boney. We found the first clue for the traditional ‘romantic’ treasure hunt Amy had prepared for our anniversary which was, as always, based on cloying inside jokes between us. Amy now crafted them just to make me feel shitty about myself. Bitch, I thought. Our relationship was so quietly acrimonious that I was struggling to convey much emotion or anxiety to Boney, although I didn’t think this wouldn’t come back to haunt me. My cell phone buzzed mysteriously, but I’m controlling the narrative voice here so I’m not going to reveal the significance of that until later on. Sorry.
Amy Elliott Dunne – 21 April 2009 (Diary Entry)
Joy! Love! Happiness! I’ve been married to Nick for nearly two years and our relationship couldn’t be better. Mainly because I’m so low-maintenance and allow him do whatever he wants – going out drinking with his buddies, watching football on TV etc. I’m always on hand to be the devoted wife and have sex with him whenever he wants (he has a big willy). Still can’t imagine any setbacks affecting our marriage.

3.
Nick Dunne – One Day Gone
The search for Amy was in full swing but there was still no sign of the bitch. I read her first clue and felt nauseous: it directed me to the office at the local college where I sleaze on the students teach journalism. There, the cops and I found some lacy underwear and the next clue. I have nothing to say about the underwear right now but it IS relevant so please do remember it. Amy’s parents arrived, slightly creepy psychologists who co-wrote the bestselling children’s book series ‘Amazing Amy’ inspired by their daughter (monumentally screwing her up, in case you wondered). Their hysteria sharply contrasted with my stoicism. I tried to be friendly to the caricatured Midwestern simpletons assisting with the search, but this was misconstrued as inappropriate by the unscrupulous media [**social commentary klaxon**]. By now a cloud of suspicion was enveloping me, and Detective Boney was beginning to ask about the happiness of my marriage….
Amy Elliott Dunne – 15 April 2012 (Diary Entry)
Nick’s behaviour has changed since the move to our lovely home in Missouri. Despite my unrequited affection, he has become cold, angry and volatile. He lies about where he’s been, drinks too much and threatens me. I feel so unsafe! Thank God for my amazing friend Noelle Hawthorne, in whom I often confide. Sometimes I feel like I could just disappear…

4.
Nick Dunne – Four Days Gone
The clues in Amy’s excruciating treasure hunt led me to Hannibal, a nearby town, and then to my father’s house, but the final clue was baffling. The derelict, recently-closed local mall was now occupied by workers who had lost their manufacturing jobs during the recession [**social commentary klaxon**]. Rather unbelievably, a few of us went to the mall that night to ask after Amy, where it was revealed that she had tried to buy…a gun!! Then, at a public vigil, some gormless idiot called Noelle Hawthorne claimed Amy was pregnant (later confirmed by medical records), that I didn’t want the baby, and that Amy was terrified of me. WTF is going on?!?! By the way…I’m having an affair with one of my students who is all fluttering eyelashes and big tits. That’s what I was being evasive about earlier: I’m a flawed protagonist but I didn’t kill Amy goddamit.
Amy Elliott Dunne – 26 June 2012 (Diary Entry)
I’m pregnant. Yay for me! But Nick’s temper is starting to freak me out. His mood swings are spiralling out of control. Yesterday we had an argument: he pushed me and I banged my head. But I don’t complain. I might feel safer if I had a gun though. Oh and if I was ever abducted and killed, he’d probably be the one to do it. Just saying.

5.
Nick Dunne – Six Days Gone
By now the evidence was stacking up that I had a motive to kill Amy. Credit cards taken out in my name had been maxed out, and Amy’s life insurance had recently been increased. Lots of blood had been clumsily cleaned up from our kitchen floor; Boney had figured out that the ‘signs of a struggle’ had been faked. I hired a hot-shot defense attorney, Tanner Bolt, who appeared to have wandered in from a John Grisham novel. He did some standard issue ‘this is what we have to do to save your ass!’ shtick. Later, I re-read Amy’s baffling final treasure hunt clue and suddenly realised that she was referring to Margo’s woodshed! I unlocked the door and looked in. Oh nooooo! I cliffhangered.
Amy Elliott Dunne – The Day Of
The diary entries you’ve been reading are fake!!! Hahahaha!!!!! [Evil cackle]. I’m actually a psychotic loon: I’ve pulled off a master plan to fake my disappearance and frame Nick because I hate him. I know about his affair with that slut. I’m not pregnant (I stole some pregnant pee from Noelle, who I also hate) and the treasure hunt clues are designed to make Nick implicate himself. I’m hiding out about 100 miles away to watch Nick’s downfall on TV, using the brilliant disguise of cutting my hair and wearing some glasses. What could possibly go wrong?!

6.
Nick Dunne – Nine Days Gone
The woodshed was full of expensive gadgets and boxes of porn videos all paid for on the credit cards in my name: the porn didn’t look good, as the videos had titles like Wife-Hating Hardcore and I Love Sexual Violence. Suddenly it dawned on me – evil Amy had framed me perfectly and there was no way of proving it. FuckingBitchSlagWhore. Obviously the cops didn’t believe me, although I convinced Bolt and Margo of what Amy was doing. But the evidence was piling up – Boney found Amy’s faked diary (cow) and I was on the brink of being arrested. Bolt convinced me to go all Bill Clinton and confess to my affair on live TV and plead for Amy’s (and the public’s) forgiveness. My only hope was to lure Amy back to North Carthage….
Amy Elliott Dunne – Nine Days Gone
I have about $10,500 in cash to see me through. But oh no! I may be a mega sociopath but utterly inexplicably I’ve been outwitted by two hillbillies at the cabin site where I’m hiding out: they’ve stolen all the cash and I’m penniless.
Crap. Only one thing for it – call up my simpering twat of an ex, Desi Collings, who is obsessed with me and will look after me as he’s loaded. I drive to meet him and manipulate him into believing I’m running from Nick’s abuse.

7.
Nick Dunne – Forty Days Gone
And then suddenly Amy was back. On my doorstep. Covered in blood, claiming Desi Collings had abducted her, imprisoned and raped her and that she’d killed him. I knew she was lying. She knew I knew she was lying. But I couldn’t prove it. The media were celebrating the happy story of her return, and the cops had closed the case. Amy confessed everything to me in private, then she stole some of my sperm and impregnated herself. I was trapped. And so, despite it being PREPOSTEROUS, I decided to resume my relationship with Amy even though I knew she was completely PSYCHOTIC and that she had MURDERED Desi Collings. ‘What a believable and satisfying conclusion,’ said no-one.
Amy Elliott Dunne – Thirty to Forty Days Gone
I somehow fall for Nick’s TV performance and realise I love him and must return to him. I grow tired of Desi’s fawning, so I shove a wine bottle up my fanny to simulate rape, fake ligature marks on my wrists and stab him in the neck at an opportune moment. I return and am able to convince the incompetent police that I was abducted/raped, and only escaped by killing Desi. They obligingly refuse to ask any pertinent questions that would otherwise foil this LUDICROUS plot twist. I trap the spineless Nick into staying with me and we are expecting a child.

The End.

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Chris Kyle: ‘American Sniper’ – in seven paragraphs

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1. Every story has a beginning. In keeping with the values of my Texan upbringing and my Christian faith, I have decided to start here on page one. I thank God for bestowing me with the wisdom to make this choice. I’ve always loved guns. Like so many youngsters, my first weapon was an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. By the age of three I’d graduated to more heavy duty equipment and never went anywhere without my Remington 870 pump-action shotgun. I was also a keen student of the use of guns throughout history. For example, my favourite Bible passage (Exodus 14:28) describes how legendary bad-ass Moses took down over a thousand Egyptians armed with only an Uzi MP-2. After leaving school I worked as a rancher and a cowboy. These jobs were fun but provided limited opportunities for shooting people, so I applied to join the Navy SEALs. I was turned down on account of having metal pins fixed in my arm resulting from a rodeo accident. I was devastated, but a year later in 1998 things started going down the toilet in Kosovo and I got a call asking if I was still up for it. My prayers had been answered.

2. I reported for Navy boot camp in February 1999. It was lame and not nearly challenging enough for an all-round killing machine like yours truly. After six months I was transferred to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. Now this was more like it! By my own approximation I did a million push ups and pull ups during my training. Everyone agreed I was awesome. Most pathetic weak-minded recruits drop out of BUD/S but I made it through by focusing on things that mattered most to me: God, Patriotism and Guns. And, to a much lesser extent, my wife. I was then assigned to a specific SEAL Team for advanced training. It was during this time that those Islam motherfuckers flew the planes into the twin towers on 9/11. I clearly remember thinking “Oh shit”. Our training was then completely recalibrated to focus more on inland operations in order to prepare for looming conflicts in the Middle East. There’s a raging debate as to whether Navy SEALs should be limited to operations at sea or incorporated into ground attacks. To be honest, I didn’t care provided I got to fire my beloved gun a lot.

3. In 2003 my team was finally posted to the Middle East. Our first missions involved boarding and searching ships in the Gulf of Aden for cargo in violation of U.N. sanctions. Often we would use RHIBs or Mk-Vs for this purpose. I assume everyone’s familiar with these acronyms so I’m not going to waste valuable time explaining them properly. This was a good starting point and I got to beat the living crap out of several uncooperative ship captains, but I yearned to see more action. We were then transferred to the Iraq-Kuwait border in case Saddam Hussein launched pre-emptive strikes on neighbouring territories. Our base in Kuwait was a shithole. There was sand everywhere and the locals didn’t seem that pleased to see us. But then the fun started. We drove around in Desert Patrol Vehicles on reconnaissance missions, and my task was to man the huge belt-fed M-60 machine gun at the rear. Shooting the big gun was totally bad-ass! When Operation Iraqi Freedom launched in March 2003 our instructions were simple: kill every enemy male aged 18-65 in sight. You could easily tell the enemy apart from civilians. I forget exactly how but let’s not get bogged down in all that. Our first engagement was in the Iraqi city of Nasiriya, where we assisted the Marines in killing a shit-ton of bad guys. Finally, I was in my element.

4. If truth be told, I’ve never really understood the mindset of the fanatical Islams we were fighting. Don’t get me wrong, I am openly tolerant of any creed or religion. Provided it’s Christianity, obviously. But the insurgents had a distorted worldview that was beyond our comprehension. To take just one example, most Islams we encountered refused to accept the fact that America is the greatest country in the world and, further, did not appreciate the benevolent favour we were doing them by invading their territory and bombing it to shit under false pretences. That was the kind of warped thinking we were up against, and it made me sick. My first tour ended and I returned to the US, where I enrolled in sniper school. I learned a hell of a lot about the patience and technical expertise required for sniping, which ran contrary to my favoured tactic of spraying the enemy with a hail of bullets whilst shouting ‘U-S-A’ as loudly as possible. A lot of people have asked me about the various guns I used as a sniper, so I’ve reluctantly dedicated a chapter to describing each of them in worshipful detail.

5. I returned to Iraq in September 2004 as part of the effort to reclaim Fallujah, which had become a terrorists’ fortress. I was positioned in an apartment complex that had been evacuated and had a good view of the city. A terrorist popped up. I blew him away. Then another. I took him down too…etc. To avoid being prosecuted my lawyer has insisted I make clear that before I took a shot, I mentally went through the rules of engagement and asked Can I kill this person? Fortunately the answer was always yes. Next, we proceeded to clear Fallujah block by block. Although I was supposed to position myself on nearby roofs to provide sniper cover, I ignored all that bullshit and spent most of my time assisting the marines on the ground by killing as many savage Islams as I could. I saw some pretty horrendous things which I’ve chosen to recount with a creepy, almost pornographic degree of relish. War isn’t supposed to be fun, but I loved every second. Most SEALs are glad for a couple of days’ rest between missions. Not me. By this time I was gaining a reputation as a pretty shit-hot sniper. Modesty prevents me from agreeing: I’ll just let my record kill list do the talking.

6. After the Iraqi elections in late 2005 it was time for me to return home again. But I got bored of being surrounded by people considerably less bad-ass than myself pretty quickly, and was soon ready for another deployment. The camaraderie among my new SEAL team was incredible. We spent most of the time punching each other in the face and choking each other until we passed out. That was just part of the banter. Other times we’d get in bar fights and open a can of whupass on anyone stupid enough to challenge our alpha male status. And don’t get me started on how we used to haze new recruits. (We brutalised them). Sometimes we managed to fit in some training. I got a couple of new tattoos at this time, including a cross covered in blood to show the stupid religious fundamentalists that I was a proud Christian. This time I was posted to Ramadi and resumed sniping activities with my usual success rate. Sniping was getting a bit dull so I had a go firing rocket launchers at buildings full of bad guys, who duly splattered everywhere. I make no apologies. These people were intent on killing American soldiers. That’s unacceptable.

7. We were joined by soldiers from the new Iraqi army for the Ramadi offensive. Unfortunately, in my completely impartial view they were all stupid, incompetent and lazy. My hit count continued to climb, and I quickly became involved in a race with a sniper from another platoon for the reputation as top marksman, which I badly wanted to win. By pure coincidence, my area of Ramadi was suddenly inundated with obvious terrorists. I took the lead in the marksman race and never looked back. I was so damn awesome at killing that the insurgents put a bounty on my head and called me ‘The Devil of Ramadi’. The rest of the war continued in much the same vein: we found some pesky insurgents; there was an intense firefight with horrific casualties on both sides; then I shot loads of villains from my perch. I left the Navy in 2009 after my fourth tour. We’d left Iraq a much better place than it was in 2003, even if it was reduced to smouldering rubble and we’d inspired a generation of brutal anti-American jihadists. In conclusion I regret nothing except not killing more bad guy Islams, whereas the accolade of being America’s Greatest Ever Sniper is so insignificant to me that I barely mention it.

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