A Few Home Truths About Richard Littlejohn’s Daily Mail Column That’s Made In The USA
“YOU couldn’t make it up.” The reviews of Richard Littlejohn’s only novel, 2001’s Hell In A Handcart, suggest he was right. He couldn’t make it up, not really. Instead, finding true fiction to be beyond him, he has committed to a life of half-truths and pseudo-fiction pumped into the open sewer of his Daily Mail column. The Britain that Littlejohn writes about is pieced together from bits of right-wing doggerel, half-watched police procedurals and his own fevered imagination where the gays and the foreigners ruined his green and pleasant land. In fact, Littlejohn is so patriotic he had to move to Florida to accurately pursue his commitment to Britain.
While Littlejohn rarely, if ever, refers to his American residency, it’s frequently evident in his column that he doesn’t know obvious things about modern Britain. Witness this week’s confusion over Frankie & Benny’s, a restaurant that utterly baffles poor old Dick and leads him to pen an encomium to the greasy spoon:
“And whatever happened to greasy spoons? Once, you could find decent transport caffs at regular intervals along all major trunk roads.”
Ah yes, those halcyon days of crappy fry ups served by surly men who had not washed their hands since the old king died. Wonderful times. Wonderful times. None of those pretentious foreign customs like napkins, table clothes or basic human decency were acceptable then. And curries? Nope. Muck. Mushy peas, misery and gravy so thick it could kill a duck were all we needed.
And for Littlejohn, getting red-faced with rage about fried breakfasts is all part of his plan to seem like a man-of-the-people rather than a pompous ex-pat paid well over the odds by the Mail to make the world seem far more miserable than it really is. See this paragraph which makes Littlejohn sound like a sales rep schlepping around the Southern region trying to sell dusters and mops to uninterested office managers:
“Early Friday morning I happened to be near Reading and fancied an old-fashioned bacon banjo and a mug of workmen’s tea. I drove up and down the A4 for miles without success. Eventually, I spotted somewhere called Frankie & Benny’s offering an ‘All Day Breakfast’.”
Sorry to spoil the incredible conclusion to Dick’s Don Quixote In A Reasonably Priced Family Hatchback tale but he soon discovers that Frankie & Benny’s – no doubt owned by work-shy wops – does not open until 9am. You couldn’t make it up! Well, you could but it would be so incredibly tedious no one would ever believe that you would take the time to make something that mundane up.
In the rest of his column, Littlejohn dedicates his deathless prose to a jaw-droppingly terrible satire on the security services complying with diversity legislation – ho, ho, ho James Bond would never get a job – which includes his usual amount of homophobia and cheap gags about transexuals. If you’re not a fat white man or a fat white man’s wife, Richard Littlejohn finds you frightening, offensive and entirely baffling. He also finds time this week to claim that Eastern Europeans don’t know how to use toilets and justify his hatred of Romanians by fixating on one case of shoplifting.
It’s worth noting that the smattering of Amazon reviews of his novel and the positive comments under his column generally come from other ex-pats (“Excellent, Mr Littlejohn. It is your valuable contribution to society that lifts our spirits and keep [sic] us sane. thankyou [sic] sir – particles, Amsterdam”). Perhaps he should join up with Nigel Farage, buy an island somewhere and build the Britain he so desperately craves: an obscene, unpleasant land where making it up will be punishable by death and everyone will eat fry ups in transport caffs while praising “our boys” and studiously avoiding their own kids going anywhere near a uniform.
I really wish Littlejohn had been made up. That would at least open up the possibility that his author might push him over his own Reichenbach Falls sometime. Sadly, I have the feeling that the Florida sun will keep him pumping out columns for decades.