Lady Thatcher’s Wink
We’re in the last days of a general election a few years from now, with Charles III on the throne, a rampant Tory party set on further dismantling the state and demonising the poor, and a Labour opposition abjectly following in their wake.
But there’s a shock in store, revolving around the indecent violation of a portrait of Margaret Thatcher that hangs in 10 Downing Street. A chance encounter opens the eyes of the caretaker prime minister, a landed grandee, to the grim realities of the country he nominally runs. As he swings to the left and Labour leapfrog him to fill the vacancy, the flag-waving Excalibur party promotes a policy of inviting the House of Windsor to play a greater role in government – and the king seems more than willing to oblige . . .
David Arscott read English at Oxford, is a former print journalist and BBC producer/presenter and is the author of some 70 titles, fiction and non-fiction.
Pomegranate Press publishes a wide range of books, from fiction to Sussex-based local history. More information, and book ordering, is available here
The cover artist
David Marl graduated from the Royal College of Art, has worked as a teacher and is a non-stipendiary Church of England vicar. See his gallery here
Former Coalition minister Norman Baker in Viva Lewes Magazine:
David Arscott is an extraordinarily prolific writer with over 30 books about Sussex alone to his name. Then there are all the other volumes, often high on the scale of quirkiness (as of course befits a Lewes person), such as Cultic Cyphers from Celtic Cyprus (7,5), a literary novel with a crossword puzzle theme.
Lady Thatcher’s Wink, the latest offering from this former BBC producer and presenter, most definitely qualifies as quirky, but this time it’s dark quirky. The story is set in the last days of a future General Election campaign, and a Britain where the poor are poorer, the safety net of the state more like a colander, the disabled demonised and punished. The key event relates to the violation of a portrait of Margaret Thatcher that hangs in Downing Street and the effect this has on the caretaker Prime Minister when he notices it.
Of course this seemingly innocuous matter is merely a satirical prop, and the worth of the book comes from the wider view of the politics and society it presents, rather than the plot itself.
Lady Thatcher’s Wink takes the excesses and injustices in Britain today and magnifies them. The satire points to a wider truth but also serves as a warning of what might be around the corner. You will chuckle at the absurdity of it all, but this is dark humour set in a world as depressing as anything from Orwell and, worryingly, one that seems increasingly less far-fetched as time goes on.
Adam Trimingham in Sussex Life magazine:
David Arscott has written more than 60 books, mostly about Sussex, so it comes as something of a surprise to find his latest offering is a jaunty political satire.
His novel is set during the frenetic final days of a general election campaign not many years from now. Following Brexit, the ruling Tories have veered to the right, and Labour is copying them after Jeremy Corbyn’s demise.
The state has been dismantled and life is tough for those at the bottom of the pile. But when a portrait of Margaret Thatcher is defiled in Downing Street, the caretaker prime minister abruptly changes course – with farcical consequences.
Arscott has great fun taking swipes at many targets besides the politicians, including the media, bloggers, the police and the royal family. The only major real-life figure is Prince Charles, now king, who plays a crucial, if belated, part in the plot.
It’s all good, fast-moving fun, adroitly handled by an experienced writer.
WH Johnson on Amazon:
Fraudsters, chancers, sycophants, scroungers, wasters, incompetents, wide-boys in sharp suits, the delusioned and the dangerous – oh, the list is endless, best gathered together under the heading politicians and their advisers, but just for balance, add newspaper men and perhaps the police. These are the characters who people David Arscott’s remarkable novel Lady Thatcher’s Wink.
Here we are only half a dozen days from another election taking place in a kingdom ruled by an ageing King, Charles III. (The capital K’s in acknowledgement of His Majesty’s stated preference.) All that Sturgeon Warbytton, current PM, wishes for is a merciful release from his tedious duties and a return to his rural acres where, so we understand, he concentrates with loving care on worming the spaniels. He’d never expected the elevation to his present role and had it not been for the carelessness of his predecessor, whose bad press included the headline ‘Hands-in-till bigamist PM starved cats in sex torture den’, it would never had happened. That was quite enough to usher the old and bring in the reluctant new.
So this is a crucial time for the Tory party which – totally in accord with the other political parties of every hue – shows no interest in the condition of the poor unemployed working class or indeed, of the not totally distressed working-poor, both groups being as a matter of course despised by their elected representatives.
And then, into the rowdy, raunchy mix of this lively novel, comes the most dreadful act of all – a painting of Lady Thatcher, hanging in No 10 of all places, is defaced. Her portrait has been doctored, one eye transformed into a wink. And more than that, a naked couple is portrayed copulating energetically just over her right shoulder. Disaster, blasphemy, desecration. But who can have done that? And what does the wink imply? The lady’s approval of the shenanigans going on behind her?
At first suspicion falls on the PM’s son, known as Frisky Freddie the Fillies’ Favourite. And all this in election week. And worse, it suddenly turns out that the PM has undergone a transformation which is enough to horrify every politician, of whatever hue, throughout the land.
What a deliciously crafted farce this is. What an uproarious satire of our masters’ role in our world. It is difficult to decide who to despise the most in this book which is so rich character, in plot, in language and in its absolute daftness.
Lady Thatcher’s Wink, what a book, what a searing revelation. It’s great fun and, at its heart – in its scathing attack on our Age of Austerity – it’s an important piece of writing, too.