Two books have entered my consciousness recently, and there are - despite the initial appearance to the contrary perhaps - some interesting (IMHO) comparisons to be made between them. I had kind of planned to carry out a detailed comparative analysis on different sections of the two books, but that ain't gonna happen, so I'll stick to some high level, thematic stuff and just hope for the best.
Get on with it, for Christ's sake! All right then.
The first book is: White Line Fever, a semi-ghosted autobiography of Ian Fraser 'Lemmy' Kilmister - lead singer and bassist with Mötorhead, not to be confused with the 1975 trucker movie starring Jan-Michael Vincent - and the second: A Journey by the one and only Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, who of course needs no introduction at all. I must point out that I didn't manage to finish the latter, being as I was in danger of being physically sick over everyone on my tube carriage whilst reading it, though I breezed through White Line Fever in a couple of days, so my review will not be a complete one. Anyone who reads this blog at all will probably also be aware of my personal feelings towards Mr Blair and his ilk, so you can pretty much be sure of what you're going to get in terms of whether I like one or other of the two works. Now that that's out of the way, I'll press on with my critique, and thank you very much for listening.
Both Lemmy and Tony were - without question - leaders. Lemmy still is, touring and making decent dosh out of Mötorhead (despite my loathing of advertising sell-outs, I must admit that I really like the slow version of Ace of Spades which is currently being used on the Kronenbourg 1664 ad) from his base in Hollywood, while Tony dreams of taking back some of the limelight he so clearly dearly loved. Perhaps he will return as President of Europe, and - given the state of the bloody place it would probably be appropriate that he does - lording it over a decaying corpse with no mandate and no probate. In a funny kind of way, we can see how the thirst for leadership is a common drive in both men, giving their lives a strong sense of purpose. Needless to say though, this is pretty much it as far as similarities go, and they really couldn't be more different.
Blair, it seems plain, was shaped by his father, or at least his father's desire for 'betterment'. Everywhere in A Journey are references to the desire in people to make their lives better: once given a hand on to the ladder, they feel the need to climb it for themselves without further assistance. His father sowed this seed in the young Anthony, desperately seeking the company of local Tory bigwigs, so that he could 'get on' in life, sending his son to Fettes, etc. Tony's belief in this desire of ordinary people for advancement frames his brand of social democracy (whatever that actually means) and his break away from the traditional Left values of the party he took control of all those years ago.
Lemmy otoh had two fathers (one biological, who did a runner when Lemmy was three, and one step-father, who seems to have been something of a lovable rogue - in and out of nick every 5 minutes) neither of whom figure particularly large in forming him in later life, and he sketches their characters in just a few lines of White Line Fever. He is a man of few words, it has to be said, and this is plainest in his attitude towards death. There is no sentimentality involved, no modern concepts like 'closure' or 'reconciliation', just a couple of words, such as 'he was a good bloke' or 'he was a wanker'. This is in direct contrast to Tony B, who persists with his teary, swivel-eyed God bothering, nonsense all the way through, quoting his own mawkish words at length when talking about the death of his Australian preacher friend and mentor.
Another - perhaps more obvious - distinction between the two men can be found in their attitudes towards intoxicants. Lemmy is some sort of role model, I have to say, in that his blood is too toxic for any other human to tolerate, and his own body so poisoned by the years of excess that he himself cannot tolerate the blood of another human. He fails (like all sensible people) to comprehend the logic behind the drugs laws and makes a mockery of them in his anecdotes. Tony's attitudes are more reflective of the mainstream of course - despite the fact of his son's misadventures in the West End, and despite his admittance of guzzling too much booze in the early days of the New Labour project.
Anyway, in summary of my opinion towards these two books and these two men: I wish Lemmy had been prime minister and not Blair.