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Laurence Inman’s Blog

READING THE BANS

11-09-2008

News that a poetry book is being banned from an exam syllabus because it contains a verse about a violent teenager has Laurence Inman reaching for his scissors. But not in a violent way, you understand.

The other week some crab-brained busy-body in the education assessment racket managed to get a poem by Carol Ann Duffy removed from an Eng Lit anthology, and all the existent copies of it pulped, because she thought it might encourage young people to start knifing each other.

The board concerned, AQA I think, rolled over immediately, as any such organisation will these days, for fear of a ‘backlash.’

I don’t mind though because I’ve been offered a very cushy job as result.

It is nothing less than to clean up English Literature and make it fit for consumption by our nation’s youth.

I’ve started by banning all mentions of sharp metal implements in the works of Shakespeare (or Shake as we must now call him.) There will be no disguises and no character will be allowed to tell a lie to another character. Sex, or any mention of sex, is also proscribed.

I’ve improved Othello no end. Iago begins the play by attending therapy sessions where he is enabled to address the various ‘issues’ he has: anger, obsession, violent thoughts towards members of other gender-, ethnic- and class-communities and motiveless malignity in general.

Othello is cured of his jealous fantasies and compulsion to murder with a course of the latest anti-depressants.

Hamlet is given a good talking to before the play begins and is able to conduct himself in a much more mature and sensible way throughout. That’s all half these people need: someone older to talk their problems through with.

Hamlet now ends, not with a pile of corpses on stage, but with a happy group of reconciled family members smiling at each other like smug cats.

There are now no swords or daggers in Macbeth.

King Lear is deemed so offensive that it has been banned altogether. The world will be no poorer for its loss.

The only play which I haven’t had to improve at all is The Comedy of Errors. It’s good, clean mad-cap humour which all the family can enjoy together.

Dickens is another one. I mean, he’s very funny and all that, but why does he have to spoil everything by dragging in so much crime, obsession, greed, duplicity, dysfunctionality, race-stereotyping, class-conflict, sexual violence, betrayal, disease, squalor, injustice, madness, suicide, lust, pride, physical ugliness, gluttony and avarice ? Who wants to read about things like that ?

I’ve got a big bonfire going for everything else. It’s hard work; books don’t burn easily. You have to keep raking them over. In a break from my labours yesterday I hade a brilliant idea for a new novel which can be used for all age-groups in schools everywhere.

I dare say so-called academics in leftie university departments up and down the country will fill the letters page of The Guardian with wishy-washy protests, but we can deal with them later.

My novel is called A Nice Cup Of Cocoa.

It’s about a middle-aged normal couple, Muriel and Ken, who’ve been married for thirty years. All their lives they’ve behaved themselves. They have two grown-up children, who have also behaved themselves.

Peter is a local government officer. He lives with his wife Doreen in a small town-house on the outskirts of Solihull. Jackie is hoping to get married to Derek next year. She still lives at home.

Every night before they go to bed Muriel, Ken and Jackie have a nice cup of cocoa and a little chat about the day they’ve had. Ken might have a read of the Daily Express as he takes his nightly shit.

Over in Solihull, Peter and Doreen prefer a milky coffee. And perhaps a thin arrowroot. Derek has the occasional night out with his chums from college, but never drinks more than a couple of lagers. This goes on for many years. Then they all die. The end.

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