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Bible Two

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WH Allen, London, 1982
(price: 7.95; 176 pages)

dedication: To my mother - Mrs Alisa King - who's been waiting a long time for this!

The blurb on the back:

Jonathan King's first novel is a wickedly caustic satire filled with flamboyance and written with irresistible style. It is the story of an innocent abroad in a villainous world...
Jonathan Farting, sole heir to the countless Farting millions, is working as a window-dresser's assistant in Selfishes, the Regent Street store, when he suddenly comes into his inheritance. Ignored, reviled and overlooked by his colleagues until that moment, Jonathan is suddenly fawned on disgracefully. But his only passion is for an icily exquisite mannequin in the shop window and his only desire is to use his wealth to bring her to life.
So Jonathan embarks on a quest to fulfil his impossible dream, a guided tour through a contemporary rogues' gallery conducted by the irrepressible Henry, window-dresser turned entrepreneur, deft manipulator of millions, impresario whose excesses include arranging an audience with the Pope, hoping for a wondrous laying-on of hands. Psychiatrists, gurus, computer wizards, porn merchants - Jonathan encounters them all while the Fleet Street wolf pack snaps hungrily at his astonished heels. But the final realization of his dreams is as outrageous and bizarre as it is miraculous, and horribly fitting for a man who dares to play God...
Bible Two marks the ascension of the new and undisputed king of the comic novel.

Jonathan King is a man of many talents: he gave the great 10cc their name, and ... er, well that's it really. His own records were uniformly unfunny, his TV presentation style was irritating and his claims to have discovered both the Bay City Rollers and Genesis are (a) exaggerated, in the case of the Rollers, who only had one hit with him, and (b) nothing to brag about.

But maybe pop music wasn't his field. Maybe behind the hideous Union Jack rosette he sported as a (failed) parliamentary candidate and the stupid Afro wig there beat the heart of a great writer. Well, here's the first (only?) novel. Is it any good?

Of course it's not. It's awful. It's a terrible attempt at Tom Sharpe. King clearly thought it displayed a free-wheeling, crazy kind of humour; anyone unfortunate enough to have read it will be numbed by its sheer ordinariness. Try him on the village pub:

This is the centre of gossip in the community. Here residents gather to imbibe vast quantities of liquid and burp scandal and rumour into the pungent air. Leaning on the bar, propping up the walls, sprawled in chairs and on wooden benches, aiming blunt darts at a pockmarked board or fiddling with some electronic game of other, the civilised citizens of Great Britain raise to a new level of triviality the superficial conversation learnt at school, at work and at home. (p.86)

Now he's been given an outrageously severe prison sentence (which I genuinely hope he doesn't have to serve in full), maybe he'll use his time in gaol learning how to write.

Before the Fall
Jonathan King

If you enjoyed this snide attack on a disgraced public figure, you might want to try a real crook like Jonathan Aitken as well.