Jock Coats Reviews “The Churchill Memorandum”

Review by Jock Coats, 1st September 2011

If Lord Tweedsmuir Met Eric Blair,
They Couldn’t Make This us!
by  Jock Coats

I finished The Churchill Memorandum at half past one this morning as I was waiting for my Mises Academy lecturer to take to my vid-screen to teach me about Rothbardian factor pricing..

A jolly good read all told. I started it yesterday morning at seven o’clock and didn’t put it down in between (how do you say “a real page turner” on a Kindle version I wonder?). I particularly noted, and liked, the frequent use of the construct “except I was…” instead of the more vulgar “except that/when/if I was…”

I was a little disappointed that the Michael Foot character killed Harold Macmillan’s young catamite before the young protagonist Anthony Markham got any bedding action with him, but there we go, that made it all the more tragic. You would have to alter that a little for the TV adaption though I’m sure – you can’t have two young homosexual heroes like that nowadays without at least one bed scene, even before the waterfall. Though perhaps the mere depiction of any such event with a minor these days woudl fall foul of laws that could have come straight out of Harry Anslinger’s dystopian alternative America.

I can remember my grandmother having the same dire opinion of Indian food (my grandfather had a similar reaction to sweet-corn: “bird food”). My grandmother, sadly, no longer remembers that, or anything else. Which is just as well since her Greenock nursing home is now run by Indians and only allows mince and tatties once a week to conform to state enforced dietary diversity, on the day they take all the inmates’ denture sets for cleaning.

The image of Pea-cock Tynan entertaining himself, however, is one that will linger in my mind for a long time I fear, and may have been gratuitous.

It’s an interesting genre. I’m not entirely happy that most libertarian fiction takes the “easy” route of inventing new galaxies and species – which makes them somewhat depressing to think that we’re going to have to wait another couple of millennia and contact with a more enlightened unearthly civilisation to see freedom in our sector of the universe. The way in which Sean Gabb shows that great advances could be made in just a few years if we adopted common sense is much more heartening.

Gabb has got it just right. For all that some other reviewers (notably those who now live under something immeasurably worse than the Anslinger government you portrayed for them) don’t recognise some of the names (Wikipedia is your friend appeared to be a common theme), I feel that alternative histories diverging from a point in time many readers will vaguely remember is more effective than those that diverge before “living memory”. Near future predictive stories are popular now, but don’t have the benefit of being something you can compare with actual events, and stand to lose their appeal once the time they predict has passed.

Is there any prospect of it becoming a series, based perhaps around Markham, Pakeshi and Stanhope as an alternative intelligence agency under Powell as “M”, I wonder?  

© 2011 – 2017, seangabb.

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