The Last Interview

I’m returning, once again, to the subject of Iain (M.) Banks and his all-too-soon departure from the world. The reason is this interview – perhaps the last he gave before his death.

Let it be noted that I stand in awe of this man. His humanity, his wit, his clear-sightedness and his self-deprecation are something that I would wish to emulate, but know that I would fall far short of.

It’s a good interview of a good man. Go and read it. Some key passages:

His political zeal burns equally ardently. He confesses that “for half a second”, as he and Adele travelled across the Alps from Venice to Paris on honeymoon, he was “elated” when he heard that Thatcher had died. “Then I realised I was celebrating the death of a human being, no matter how vile she was. And there was nothing symbolic about her death, because her baleful influence on British politics remains undiminished. Squeeze practically any Tory, any Blairite and any Lib Dem of the Orange Book persuasion, and it’s the same poisonous Thatcherite pus that comes oozing out of all of them.”

We reminisce about other significant turning points. Blair entering Downing Street: “Watching the helicopter shots of his car journeying from Islington to Buck House was like witnessing the liberation of a city … yet almost immediately he was having tea with Thatcher. My injured self-respect can at least fall back on the fact that I never voted for New Labour – Labour yes, and nothing but Labour for as long as it existed and I could vote, but not for a party that embraced privatisation and refused to scrap nuclear weapons; not for a party slightly to the right of Ted Heath’s government.” As for the war on terror, there is palpable fury when he discusses “the great lie that our boys are fighting, killing and dying in Afghanistan to keep us safe. It’s 180 degrees off the truth. They’re dying worse than needlessly; they’re dying to save political face, and for every grieving or just aggrieved Afghan family we create the conditions for further atrocities to be visited on us.”

I won’t miss waiting for the next financial disaster because we haven’t dealt with the underlying causes of the last one. Nor will I be disappointed not to experience the results of the proto-fascism that’s rearing its grisly head right now. It’s the utter idiocy, the sheer wrong-headedness of the response that beggars belief. I mean, your society’s broken, so who should we blame? Should we blame the rich, powerful people who caused it? No let’s blame the people with no power and no money and these immigrants who don’t even have the vote, yeah it must be their fucking fault.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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