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The Brentford Mercury

An Interview with Robert Rankin

Robert Rankin nabbed at an art exhibition

by Michael Carroll


A wonderful liar

So this is from where he gets his powers of story-telling?

"A magical liar, a wonderful liar."

Robert Elliott mentioned that there have been parallels drawn between Robert Rankin and Salman Rushdie.

"Well, there is absolutely no doubt that a fundamentalist Christian would consider Armageddon to be a work of supreme blasphemy. Jesus is in it - at the end he arrives in designer sun-glasses and a white suit. He's a really hip guy, and everybody thinks he's really fab, you know. He smiles at this woman and takes ten inches off her waistline. He smiles at the hero and his acne dries up. And they all go `What a nice fella!' And of course the hero marries Jesus' sister at the end and then he's saying `will the father-in-law be at the wedding?'

"So there are people who aren't going to like it. My mother, you know what she did with Armageddon? She burned it. She only admitted it to me the other day. She ceremoniously burned it. Book-burning is alive and well and living in Hastings."

I asked Mr. Rankin whether we should keep that bit in.

"No, I don't mind at all."

What sort of reactions has he had from others?"

"I haven't had any reaction at all over this, because Bloomsbury did no promotions and Armageddon in hardback sold about a thousand copies. Corgi [the paperback publishers] are doing a first print run of fifty thousand, so there could be some kind of backlash which might mean I have to move house. The first time I get the fire-bomb through the window, I know it's time to clear off.

"But I don't believe that Christians behave like that. When you think of things like The Life of Brian, which got a lot criticism, the Archbishop of Canterbury wanted it banned, Mary Whitehouse wanted it banned. Maybe the Pope will issue a death threat against me."

We grinned and rubbed our hands. If that happens this interview will be worth a fortune!

"The Popemobile draws up outside the door, the window rolls down, the machine gun with the rotating barrel..."

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