THE FINAL CURTAIN CALL
By Hector Christie

“I’ve got kids, and simply want to leave them a world fit for them and their children. But there isn’t going to be one unless we collectively rise up together, unite on issues in relation to the ‘bigger picture’ and enforce the change ourselves.”

      Hector Christie’s credo, much like The Final Curtain Call itself, is clear, unadorned and incredibly powerful. The book’s collective revelations are brutally poignant without being polemic, terrifyingly prophetic and yet filled with an inherent belief in our collective ability to change things for the better. Consequently, this isn’t a depressing novel – although ‘semi-fictionalised biography’ might be a more accurate classification. What the book is, is an inciteful gathering of disturbing facts related in an anecdotal style.

      Open any page within the text, google the first reference you find, and you’ll be presented with example after example of big business and government thwarting Christie’s simple desire outlined above. Foot and mouth, the cold-blooded murder of political activists in Genoa, the weakness of mono cultured GM crops, Iraq, Monsanto, Bhopal… It’s a bleak history of atrocity obfuscated by our collective unwillingness to confront corruption wherever we encounter it. Instead, as Christie repeatedly highlights, the pervasive culture of fear, and extended nature of panopticon styled surveillance, has left us apathetic and impotent. His solution to this lethargy is laughably simple; start complaining in the most obvious, humorous and vocal manner you can muster.

      Whether it’s dressed as a priest protesting against globalisation, or clad as a square GM water melon, or even charading as a member of the Labour Party, Christie’s infiltration tactics are comically robust and yet devastating effective. Like some trickster spirit he repeatedly dodges quantification and, even within the text itself, creates a malleable notion of what it takes to get yourself noticed by the powers that be. He’s also adamant in his belief that suppression tends towards the most brainless and efficient form. What these collective tales of protest outline, is the ability of intellect to always triumph against such a narrow-minded approach. This is in turn aided, in Christie’s view, by a generous slice of karmic intervention which fuels his belief that a basic trust in intuition will win through any day. Needless to say, the serendipitous evidence gathered here is persuasive although probably not enough to sway the more statistically minded.

      The story itself is a near future retrospective told by Christie’s daughter, Annie. She’s 32 and is one of the survivors of an apocalyptic collapse that has left the world a very different, although much more respectful, place. Through the use of pen pal correspondence with friends in Iraq and India, along with extracts from her father’s diary, she pieces together the road humanity treads towards mutual assured destruction.

      Again this approach is dealt with in a basic but heartfelt manner, with the intention being a pragmatic call to action rather than generating stupefying fear. It additionally leads to some genuine moments of recollected humour about her father and his friends and, in this, Christie’s humility and ability to capture character comes to the fore. There are areas where the semi-fictionalise narration leads to doubt as to the voracity of the events described, and yet this incredulity is exacerbated by the sheer scale of some of the atrocities mentioned. Once more a tiny amount of research can quickly reveal another chilling take on corporate callousness.

      The only real weakness of the piece is its obvious bias in viewpoint. This comes as a given thanks to its biographical style, plus the fact that direct action rarely leads to open dialogue – for Christie, arrest is the inevitable path to publicity. That said, a few moments of open sympathy are expressed for those merely carrying out orders from above. And it’s here, as with so many other encounters within the book, that the author’s deep-rooted civility comes to the fore. Christie is a gentleman, and even magistrates are heard to comment that they’ve, “never sent anyone to prison so politely before.” Despite this impeccable conduct, the best response he regularly receives is a derisory ‘no comment’ and at worst heavy handed tactics and covert bullying.

      Unlike the Americentric protest publications we’ve seen of late – No Logo, Fast Food Nation and Stupid White Men to name but three – The Final Curtain Call offers a typically British perspective on miscarriages of justice. It follows a linear path of radicalisation, beginning with the rise in foot and mouth and climaxing with the compulsory introduction of ID cards. At every turn the sheer, fat-free logic of Christie’s arguments shines through, subsequently leading to even greater shock and disbelief at the violence perpetrated against his animals, his land and his family.

      The moral of his struggle against profit driven bureaucracy is simultaneously harsh and yet hopeful, and if there is one encapsulating message for the reader it is this… Out on the peripheries, where counter culture grinds its raw gears against the wheels of corporate self-interest, those that voice dissent can expect intimidation, violence and repeated defeat. But, with each small victory that emerges, with each added voice of protest that speaks up as a result of this resistance to conformity, there comes a overriding justification for standing up for what you believe in.

      Christie is a slow burning firebrand and, as such, his actions should work as a mnemonic for us all. History is littered with instances where a culture has turned a blind eye and done its best to displace knowledge of destruction being conducted in the name of advancement.

      If we’re to truly leave a better world for our children, and our children’s’ children, then the pervasive delusions driven by consumerism need to be pulled apart. The truth is, the only way we can satisfy this fundamental drive to protect our offspring is, as Christie says, to focus on the bigger picture. And, if that initially seems way too daunting, then borrow from one of the environmentalists more recent slogans; think global, act local. Small steps really do lead to great changes, and the smallest of all would be to pick up a copy of The Final Curtain Call. It is, if nothing else, an incredibly thought provoking read.