Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Book Blitz, Excerpt & Author Interview: Time of Lies by Douglas Board.

Time of Lies by Douglas Board

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.

It’s day 5 of the BG government. Bob is re-inventing Prime Minister’s Questions. He’s in the Red Lion pub in Whitehall, a few minutes’ walk from Downing Street, with the new Secretary of State for Transport, Zafir Khan. Bob tells the story (and does it his way, addressing the reader).
You sit yourself right there, get a good view of the action. No, you’re not in the way at all. Meet my mate Zaf, Zafir Khan. Zaf likes standing, so we’re sorted. What do you reckon: we’re three minutes out of ‘government land’ and into this pub hand pumps and glass, brass and wood, the whole lot polished up like a tart’s wedding ring. Zaf runs his finger over the tables, no marks or anything.
What my mother calls “proper English”,’ he says.
His finger pauses on some unexpected dust. Fair enough, with the occasional thuds from the ceiling. Upstairs Shock News are installing broadcasting gear like you would not believe.
So this Whitehall boozer, the Red Lion, claims to have been the local for every Prime Minister until Ted Heath. After that, with the IRA and what not, the later ones bottled it. No doubt they started necking supermarket special offer packs instead like the rest of us (not). Anyway, a pub called ‘The Red Lion’ couldn’t have been more perfect for BG, yes? Annabel came up with the plan.
Here on the ground floor we have LiveChat cameras. They look slightly larger than the ones every pub has for security. When they’re broadcasting a tiny light flashes. Microphones are in the brass chandeliers. It’s all part of doing Prime Minister’s Questions our new way.
I explain the deal to Zaf. Every Wednesday we’ll run a raffle for half a dozen MPs to ask questions. No special deal for the Leader of the Opposition some traditions have to die, and anyway, the rabble still can’t agree who it should be. Right now we’ve got four of them claiming the job. What a shambles! Still, it means we can crack on while the old parties protest to Mr Speaker about car parking.
Wednesday lunchtime the MPs from the raffle will be here in this pub. We’ll fill it with punters no problem picked, obviously, but ordinary Brits from all over the country. The tickets for the first Wednesday sold out in three minutes. I’ll arrive, get a round in, show the MPs who’s boss and then get on to the real questions. Trust BG a Prime Minister you can have a drink with and he’ll buy his round. Punch and Judy in the House of Commons end of!
I love it, boss.’ Twenty-five years as a London cabbie have hardly touched Zaf’s Brummie accent. He takes a gulp of lime and soda.
Zafir Khan MP, Secretary of State for Transport. When I told him, you could not believe his face. Together we’ve just made the three-minute stroll across Whitehall in the afternoon sunshine.
We bowed when we passed the Cenotaph. Actually, no-one planned that; it’s just something I started yesterday. Then Angela said it would be really good if all Cabinet Ministers did the same. So we get out and stand side by side with our drivers whenever we’re passing in our cars. It buggers up Whitehall traffic but what the fuck? It’s a great message, because it never crossed the mind of the ruling class to do it.

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.

Twitter: @BoardWryter