Hi guys! I hope you are having a lovely week! In light of Donald Trump’s ongoing visit to the UK, I’m really excited to be taking part in a topical Blog Tour for a political satire novel, Time of Lies. For this post, I have been kindly provided with an extract of the book for you to read. I hope you enjoy it!
Time of Lies
In 2020 the United Kingdom elects its own Donald Trump.
Bob Grant, former football hooligan, now the charismatic leader of the Britain’s Great party, has swept to power on a populist tide. With his itchy finger hovering over the nuclear trigger, Bob presides over a brave new Britain where armed drones fill the skies, ex-bankers and foreigners are vilified, and the Millwall football chant ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ has become an unofficial national anthem.
Meanwhile, Bob’s under-achieving, Guardian-reading brother Zack gets a tap on the shoulder from a shady Whitehall mandarin. A daring plot is afoot to defy the will of the people and unseat the increasingly unstable PM. Can Zack stop his brother before he launches a nuclear strike on Belgium? And just what is ACERBIC, Britain’s most closely-guarded military secret?
A darkly comic political thriller, Time of Lies is also a terrifyingly believable portrait of an alternative Britain. It couldn’t happen here… could it?
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“TIME OF LIES” by Douglas Board
In 2020 the UK elects its own Donald Trump as Prime Minister – Bob Grant, uneducated Bermondsey geezer and self-made millionaire. The election slogan of Bob’s BG party is ‘Britain’s Great! End of!’.
Zack, a Guardian-reading out-of-work actor, can’t believe that his brother Bob has his finger on Britain’s nuclear trigger. Meanwhile Patrick Smath, the Eton-educated permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, is wetting himself and having to tell Bob Britain’s most closely-guarded secret for the last 25 years.
Zack is married to Kathy, a rising Royal Naval officer and Patrick’s right hand person; they have just had a difficult visit with Kathy’s mum who lives in Helensburgh, Scotland. Here they meet the business end of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Zack is telling the story. (When the author went to Helensburgh for research, he booked a trip in a sailing boat so he could get a view from low down in the water. He never imagined that he’d experience in real life the scene below. But he did.)
We walk out to the Rhu Narrows light, two hundred yards into Gare Loch on the end of a shingle spit. It’s like standing beside a Belisha beacon on a traffic island, one-third of the way across one of London’s clogged arterial roads ‒ maybe the Cromwell Road near Earl’s Court – but the Narrows is narrower. Three miles to the north, guarded by a stationary police boat and some undercover seagulls, is Faslane. In the event of a nuclear bust-up, this will be the first place in the British Isles to be vaporised, taking with it Glasgow and over a million people. The forests and heather of Loch Long and Loch Lomond would be ablaze.
Some of the seagulls eye us quizzically and call up reinforcements. A black police inflatable comes round Rosneath Point, darting about like a fly.
‘Barry and Joan do a great job looking in on her,’ I point out.
Kathy’s worry lines report for duty. ‘But their son has just bought that place near Granada. They’ll be around less in the winters.’
I can tell she’s thinking about the possible move to Washington. Kathy’s boss is Patrick Smath. He pronounces it ‘Smayth’. From what Kathy says, he’s nice enough in a sorry-you-weren’t-as-well-educated-as-I-was way. He’s no Navy man but right up there, the most senior civil servant in the Ministry of Defence. For the last year Kathy has been working for him. If there is anything to Cairstine’s mutterings about a man with designs on Kathy’s career, that man is Patrick.
‘He wants me to go to Washington, but spend some time with the war-gamers at Rhode Island first.’
‘Don’t you think war games says it all?’
‘Zack, sometimes! I’ve told you … they’re not games. They’re about getting ready for the future. For goodness sake, think about the Russians, the terrorists, the hackers. No-one’s playing by the old rules. If we don’t practise, we lose. All our best people do this kind of stuff. Why Patrick thinks I’m one of them I don’t get, but don’t wind me up.’
I hold her close and bury my face in her shawl, in the smoothness of alpaca and bamboo. When my eyes open I’m facing Rosneath Point. Beyond the Firth of Clyde lies the Atlantic.
I catch my breath at a sight I’ve never seen before. A dark sword is being unsheathed at the water’s edge. The sword slides into view between low, grey-green hills, yachts at play and a ferry boat. Its front is rounded but as alien and black as Kubrick’s monoliths in 2001. While the submarine turns towards us its length vanishes, but not for long: the god of destruction accompanied by eight armed boats and tugs heads our way. This is Shiva, with two periscopes and a sonar third eye. His trident can spit dozens of nuclear warheads more than 7,000 miles. He is coming in procession before us.
He passes us almost within arm’s reach. The submarine is one-third again as wide as an athletics track, as long as an athletics oval. Fifteen-thousand tonnes drive through the water in silence. Wavelets touch Darth Vader’s cloak before streaming in lines to lap obediently at our feet. The dorsal fin, the conning tower, rises five storeys above us. Diving planes protrude to port and starboard. The tail fin makes a defiant finger gesture out of the wake. We don’t care to find out whether Shiva’s bridesmaids will fire their heavy calibre machine-guns, so we don’t wave.
And then he is past, handing back to us permission to speak while he punts his way up Gare Loch. Yes, one of the biggest insanities in human history has just passed close enough to touch. But see the other side of me, he now says. Watch me transporting underwater what you do not care to think about. I’ve been taking your fears to a safe place for decades. Thousands of sailors and engineers and physicists have worked hard at it. The least you might do is say thanks?
Author Bio –
Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.
Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.
As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.
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