In a way I am grateful to Meghan Markle, sorry, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, because thanks to her I can now at least say that I am not the worst writer in the world. She’s only gone and written a kids book, has the people’s Duchess. Another string to her fluffy bow. Come on Meghan, give someone else a chance! I am totally responsible for proofing and editing my own work (you may have noticed the implications of that already) so believe me I would love it if someone could do it for me, but I wouldn’t necessarily benefit from it being the sort of horrifically overpaid sycophant that will have had a hand in blowing smoke right up the arse of Meghan’s latest venture – her soon to be published crime against the written word: ‘The Bench’. Sometimes you have to dig about for a bit to find something to take the piss out of and sometimes something just lands on your lap. How could anyone resist this little teaser?
Unfortunately (if you have never read a single book in your entire life and feel that now is the time to start) you’ll have to wait until the 8th of June to get your hands on a copy of what is described as a book about “the special bond between father and son – as told through a mother’s eyes”. Their Archewell website (even a brief exposure to which made me feel tainted and compromised) also feels that it has to explain that the book was “inspired by her own husband and son”, which is both painfully obvious but at the same time a little misleading at it supports a myth that Harry and Archie might be capable of inspiring anything at all. If you’re not already retching into a nearby bucket, or have money you feel urged to exchange for old rope, or would like to suffer from frequent headaches and dizzy spells the book is available from numerous outlets for £9.99; that’s £9.99 for 40 pages of paper that even recycled will seem to tear through the patience and wisdom of every tree that has ever been, or will ever be. It would even insult a Kindle.
You might ask how I can be so confident about assessing this literary opus, given that there is no way I could have possibly read the book yet, but from experience I can tell you that if you ever spot the top of a cultural turd bobbing away then there’s a very good chance there’s a lot more of it lurking under the surface: most publishers are happy to offer up a couple of pages of their next release to whet the appetite, and so we have been afforded a glimpse at the shitberg that surely lies beneath. “From here you will rest, see the growth of our boy” it starts, accompanied by a flaccid watercolour illustration of a father and son (who don’t quite look very much at all like Harry and Archie, but tick some kind of equality box, as you’d expect). Flip the page and you’ll find another image (which confusingly shows a father and son that suddenly do look like Harry and Archie) of Meghan’s picture book alter ego gazing out of the window of her modest cottage at the sight of her husband in military gear, tossing his son over a wall in a moment of PTSD induced rage. This slightly troubling image has some carefully selected words too: “Looking out at My Love, And our beautiful boy, And here in the window, I’ll have tears of great joy….”. I’m not feeling the joy, but the tears are real.
Truly inspiring stuff – I myself am presently inspired to swallow a generous surfeit of ketamine and slide into a deep, hot bath. What is certainly clear is that if Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, has chosen these words to open her book then there can’t be a lot left in the tank for the other 30 odd pages (we must assume that there will be a completely blank double page at the back, because there usually is, and another double page telling us who Meghan is and trying to explain exactly what she does for a living). Meghan says the book was further inspired (inspiration seems to be a running theme, perhaps I need to look the word up) by a poem that she wrote for Harry one Father’s Day, and what she means by this explanation is that she wrote a dreadful poem for her nut-cracked husband one day and then got in touch with a publisher and a wishy washy illustrator who were both prepared to sell their souls for cash and fame (something I would happily do, but definitely not for Meghan) and hey presto, here we are – a poem/book/story by an author/duchess/talent vacuum who, we must remind ourselves, just wants a quiet life but also kind of wants as much publicity as she can grasp. Imagine that – a lonely, sad, misunderstood duchess who somehow finds the confidence to marry a prince and make as much money as possible by doing as little of true value as humanly possible. Now that would be a kids book worth reading.
I look out at you, forever My Love,
With our precious child, I softly pray,
That we won’t get rumbled, exiled from fame,
For the crap that we do, and the crap that we say.
G B Hewitt. 07.05.2021