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Paul Rigby
04-25-2010, 12:52 PM
Storm in a samovar

By Donald Lube-Tabora, The Sunday Excess, 25 April 2010, pp.1, 2-6


Public Confession

Veteran human rights solicitor Lex Mackem rose to his feet, cleared his throat of all blame, then delivered himself of a stunning admission: “I have been under the most intense strain due to falling sales figures, but can no longer allow my nine-month old son, Hamlet, to sustain his brave pretense in the face of this appalling show trial. The jiffy bag was sent by me.”

Beside Mackem in the press room of Bareback College, London, sat a penitent Borlando Figureovfun, Britain’s leading expert on Russian history. Mackem continued on Figureovfun’s behalf: “I was so traumatised by my researches into the gulag that I was compelled to mount a reign of terror against Professor Norbert Surplice and Rebecca Netanyahu. In a moment of madness lasting nearly eight years, I wrote a series of unflattering reviews on the internet; and then dropped a long one into a transparent, self-sealing bag and commanded Parcelforce to deliver it unto Surplice.”

The unfortunate Surplice collapsed in shock upon opening the parcel. “I was rendered prostrate by this act of critical terrorism. I have since retreated to the small space beneath my study desk, where I have remained ever since, refusing all food, there to await my inevitable death by Russo-Islamic ice-pick.”

This extraordinary and unprecedented row within the cloistered world of Britain’s small, monastic community of Russian experts, a storm in a samovar which culminated in the arrival Tuesday of the steaming jiffy bag at the Cotswold home of Surplice, has its bitter roots in a scathing review of Figureovfun’s 2000 book, Stalin: My Part in His Downfall (London: Anthony Gland), by Netanyahu in the pages of the The Murdoch Literary Review.

Accusing Figureovfun of copying great swathes of Richard Tripe’s 1997 book, Commie Nutters & Why They Don’t Matter (NY: Silverstein-Madoff Inc.), Netanyahu, a former student of Tripe’s, documented not merely wholesale plagiarism, but a series of stunning elementary mistakes: “Pasternak was most definitely a man; Tomsk is, the last time I examined real-time satellite imagery from Tel Aviv, still-standing; and Italo Stromboli, the veteran Sicilian Comintern agent, was not shot by Boris Maniac in Lubyanka cell 247, but rather suffocated by Gleb the Unhinged in cell 248. As for Raoul Wallenberg, he is most definitely still alive, and living in Urals work camp 4891, in the company of 12 American airmen, one of whom is unquestionably Glenn Miller.”

Figureovfun responded through the good offices of Lex Mackem Solicitors, whose presiding legal legend and founder, Lex Mackem, temporarily set aside his heroic pro bono work for Boris Beserkovsy and the Ichkerian National Liberation Army. “Piffling pedantry, pseudo-intellectual manure,” charged Bareback’s star professor, adding “only a deformed onanist of uncertain origin could possibly find fault with my history of Tomsky.”

Enter the Surplice Theory of Value

In a letter to the MLR, Netanyahu’s critique was dubbed a debunking of genius by Professor Surplice, who had entered the fray just as the judges of the annual Enron non-fiction award, worth the note inconsiderable sum of $125,000, prepared to give their verdict. Surplice’s insistence upon his disinterestedness rang more than a little hollow, for his own triumphant entry, Trotsky: The Four-Eyed Sex-Case (London: Ampersand), was competing directly with Figureovfun’s paean to Russian feudalism, The Romanov’s Happy Peasants (London: Anthony Gland).

An outraged Figureovfun thereupon subjected Surplice’s definitive tome to a barrage of hostile reviews on Amazon by a critic using the nom de plume “Borlando-Bareback,” who called the book “worthless tripe, unlike anything written by that incomparable genius Figureovfun.” Numerous links were posted to that most unconventional site of historical exegesis, RateMyPoo.com.

From beneath his cramped desk, a plainly terrified Surplice told me by phone: “I used my contacts in MI5 to narrow the range of suspects down to two: A disgruntled PhD student in Oxford, currently working as a waiter in Sheffield; and Figureovfun. Thanks in no small part to this crack detective work unravelling these complex layers of deceit, I was able to persuade my handyman, Stan Woodcock, to send an email-thingy to Netanyahu, asking her if she had experienced similar problems on Amazonia. She had.”

A raid by West Yorkshire’s anti-terrorist unit quickly eliminated Surplice’s former undergraduate – along with a sizable portion of a mosque, three children, and the Sheffield Eagles hooker, Mohammed Cartwright – leaving Figureovfun squarely in Surplice’s sights. A joint letter from Netanyahu and Surplice demanding to know if Figureovfun and “Borlando-Bareback” where one and the same was met by yet another barrage of letters from Lex Mackem Solicitors, most of them in cyrillic.

And then, of course, came the now notorious jiffy bag.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/apr/23/historian-orlando-figes-amazon-reviews-rivals

Paul Rigby
05-09-2010, 11:16 AM
I received an avalanche of email in response to the posting above. I apologise for my tardiness in responding, but I shall now endeavour to answer it.

Why, a Mr C. Andrew enquired, are you so ill-disposed to Mr Robert Surplice, the outstanding British historian of the Soviet era? Are you, by any chance, a maladjusted fellow-traveller in urgent need of an MI5 scalpel?


Yes, I must be, I replied, because Surplice is guilty of judgements that are disgusting and absurd, ones, moreover, which have nothing to do with accurate history, and everything to do with vindicating the policies of Britain’s ghastly spooks. Let me show you what I mean.

In the Review section of Saturday’s Grauniad, Ian Pindar offered a brief but fulsome review of Surplices’ widely acclaimed Trotsky: The Four-Eyed Sex Case (Ampersand). According to the reviewer, “Trotskyites who like to compare their man favourably to the murderous Stalin will probably be disappointed by this bold and balanced biography. As Surplice observes:

“If ever Trotsky had been paramount leader instead of Stalin, the risks of a bloodbath on Europe would have been drastically increased.”

Au contraire, Mr Pindar, any one with a brain will be disappointed. That Olympian judgement is purest balls, for it invites us to thank God for Stalin’s abominable reign; and forget the casualties of a small matter called WWII. The very best one could truthfully argue in this instance is that Trotsky would have brought forward the carnage that ensued in the years 1924-1941; and thereafter in WWII. Anything else is nonsense.

But something more is going on here.

In asking us to forget, however momentarily, the humanitarian joys of the Stalin years, Surplice is also asking us to celebrate something he can’t quite bring himself to articulate. What is that something? The far-sightedness of the MI6 policy, as represented by the forged Zinoviev letter, which boosted Stalin and his policy of socialism in one state, against the advocates – Trotsky to the fore, and many of them Jews – of world revolution.

This is not an isolated instance of bizarre judgements, seemingly inexplicable slants, and/or wanton hypocrisy: British Sovietology is riddled with it. And the greater portion of it is designed to hymn establishment/spook sagacity; or else whitewash the British establishment’s succession of murderous & catastrophic stratagems.

Helen Reyes
05-09-2010, 03:44 PM
I just read somewhere Reilly was a double agent and a great admirer of Soviet socialism, which he felt would eventually take over the world and create a one-world government. Trotsky might have chosen a different stage name and done much better. Settling for the stability of secret Okhrana informant Stalin must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Happy May 9th.

Paul Rigby
05-09-2010, 07:01 PM
Settling for the stability of secret Okhrana informant Stalin must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Happy May 9th.

Stalin as Okhrana agent does the job rather nicely.