Gore Vidal writes on the EU referendum…

gore paul

From beyond the grave…

When I first read the words ‘Votey McBoatface’ I supposed, in my innocent way, that another research ship had just been named. Eventually (I was busy at the time on one more Slate essay about how I had never labelled a Mr C Hitchens as my successor, something that still surfaces even though Mr Hitchens and myself are now both deeply interred in the land of thanatos) I discovered that it referred to a referendum on Britain remaining in the EU.

I think it may be necessary to describe what Britain is here, Great or otherwise, though after this we may certainly take the ‘otherwise’ as a given. Britain is England and Wales. Great Britain is England, Wales and Scotland. The United Kingdom is England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The latter is also know as the UK, of which more later.

A team of politicians composed of Mr Johnson, Mr Gove, Mr Farage, and a wealthy Australian, even more wealthy than the first three, Mr Rupert Murdoch, encouraged people who hadn’t given it much thought, or perhaps any thought, to vote to leave a financial and political body of which they had been a member for forty-three years, a body which many outside countries, who can clearly see the benefits, are clamouring to join. It goes without saying that the term ‘politician’ used here is a shortened form of ‘professional self-serving mendicant and thief, an undeveloped adolescent with the IQ of a snail, and the morality of, well, a politician’.

As I said on the Johnny Carson Show some time ago (and how tempus Fugit, as the Bird used to throw at me towards the end of an evening when our trawls of the streets of Rome had led to nothing beneficial for either of us), that to take the advice of any politician is to enrol in a fool’s enterprise. On that occasion on Johnny’s show I intoned in my best deep Richard Nixon voice, quoting from Nixon’s own book Six Crisis: ‘President Eisenhower was a far more sly and devious man than people suspected, and I mean those words in their very best sense.’ And yet people, seventeen million of them, did follow the advice of these men, politicians in the very best sense. Against their own best interests. Against knowing that these men were politicians, of whom it has been truly said, ‘Are their lips moving? Then they’re lying.’

Now I see that those Stakhanovite war-workers Johnson, Farage and Gove are all retired from the current political stage, gone back, temporarily at least, to the bee-keeping or unicorn hunting or whatever it was they imagined the New England, or New Little England, held for them and future generations. And who has Prime Minister Cameron, also retired praepropere, as I’m sure he learned to say at Eton, decided should be in charge of shovelling up the Humpty Dumpty remains of the country? Oliver Letwin, known, if at all, as the parliamentary go-to guy for not having a clue about anything. When given the job he described how he saw it to Parliament: ‘I can only say that the baby is being firmly held, and that my intention is that the baby should prosper, because I care about the baby in question. The baby is, in fact, our country.’ Thank you for those jewels, Oliver.

But for me it is over and done with. I shall shortly leave this ship of fools to its own shoddy devices, this Former United Kingdom, or FUK, as it is henceforth, and go on a different voyage, a repetition of one taken some years ago, a journey by caique on the Aegean with two friends now also, alas, with me in this Underworld: my life companion Howard and the actor Paul Newman, whose wife, Joanne Woodard, on that earlier voyage jumped ship at the first port and fled to London to attend the theatre.

On that occasion Howard, Paul and I journeyed on, at last to Santorini. There we saw the original black obsidian crater, the eruption of which destroyed not only Santorini but, across the sea, the entire Minoan civilization, a small part later rebuilt by Sir Arthur Evans, seemingly from designs by Walt Disney. The parallels with that destruction I will not need to draw out for you. As that gossip Capote often claimed to have said to my step-brother’s step-sister Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, when meeting her not long after that November day in an elevator with her once brother-in-law Robert, plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose, the waspish Capote claiming, with the twenty-twenty vision of hindsight, a precognition he never in reality owned. Indeed. Thank you for those jewels, Truman.

Boris matris futuor Johnson, as I might say…

Mayor of London Boris Johnson boxes with

What the Mayor of London looks like, in case you don’t know.

So I’m just coming out of Arthur’s Cafe (father, son and grandson, est. 1935) on Kingsland Road in north London. I’ve had a nice lamb’s liver and bacon lunch and all is well. Jesus, I feel good. Then I see, coming out of the Oxfam shop across the street, a straw-headed individual whom I hate. He’s in a good dark suit stretched and pulled sideways and most other ways, a cycle helmet more on one side of the straw head than the other, and he’s got a plastic carrier bag in his hand. This is the north end of Kingsland Road, up towards Islington, so I’m not all that surprised. The ‘jesus I feel good’ goes. I cross the street. By now he’s unlocking a bicycle from the lamppost.

IMG_02051-1024x682What Arthur’s Cafe looks like, in case you don’t know.

I stop beside him. I feel there should be security guards hovering about somewhere, but there’s nobody approaching with their hand inside their coat. This is my chance. He looks up from his unlocking.  I say, ‘Gussie Fink-Nottle, Al, BoJo, Boris, Brand Boris, the Beano Boris of Have I Got News For You, or to put that another way, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, dual national of the US and Britain, who wants us out of the EU as if it’s any of your business, hold it right there.’

Boris says, ‘Huump fullluff, by jove. Mmunnaat eegghh mmoonn.’

‘That purposely ruffled hair while acting the likeable, semi-shambolic buffoon won’t work with me,’ I say. ‘You’re not going to deflect me with self-deprecation and giving me something to laugh at.’

At that moment the unlocked bicycle falls to the ground and Boris topples over it, the loose helmet slides over his face and he gets to his feet while looking at me through the slats in the top.

‘Buumpf coorps muffet,’ he says. ‘Lounng massin corby.’

‘Jester, toff, yes,’ I say. ‘Also a racist and bigot, a self-absorbed sociopath, a serial liar, a nasty right-wing elitist with odious views and criminal friends…’

‘Now, here, I say, nuuffg woonbm nufft,’ he says.

‘… a ruthless, ambitious, manipulative, scheming backstabber, a manic self-promoter engaged in a ceaseless war for supremacy, a man of aspirations without concrete achievements or plans (like your similarly coiffured but even wealthier counterpart the Donald Trump)…’

I’m still talking when he opens the plastic carrier bag from the Oxfam shop and pulls out the riding crop he has just bought and thrashes me viciously and repeatedly across the face with it, while yelling, ‘Take that you Irish paddy scum go back to your hovel in the mud and your life with the pigs and eat poisoned potatoes all day and everyday if you like you non-British matris futuor get out of here.’ Slash slash. ‘Te futueo et caballum tuum,’ he yells. Maybe the rest had been Latin too. I’ve no idea.

No, he didn’t do that. Not at all. Because that would be to show what the cuddly, harmless, buffoon Boris is really like. A matris futuor.

Liver-and-bacon-006What lamb’s liver and bacon looks like, in case you don’t know.