A speech Sam Jordison gave just before Christmas at the superb We’re Not Kids Any More event at the Betsey Trotwood:
I'm desperate for you to notice me. And buy my books. But they don't quite work as reading material. Look how beautiful they are. Come and get one. But tonight, I'd like to focus on a more serious issue. Some of you may know that I co-run a small publisher called Galley Beggar Press. Because of that I've found an awful lot out about Amazon over the years. I often detail that research in the Galley Beggar newsletter and I thought I'd share it with you.
For instance, I'm sure a few of you have heard about the ongoing Amazon vs Hachette dispute? It's this big set of court cases and worry about author royalties, price gauaging that kind of thing. It's kind of complicated, so let me fill you in on a few salient details. The battle actually started a few years ago, round about when the universe was first forming. In the beginning, you see, there was light. This light was bright, warming, nourishing. All was ecstasy and joy... Everyone just sat around listening to early Neil Young on quality analogue hi-fi systems and feeling pretty great, actually. Especially when he hit that first solo on Like A Hurricane. That was the sound of The World. But then there came darkness. A cry from the night. A flash of pure black across that golden sky, like backwards lightening only not half so cool. Loathsome creatures awoke. Slimy crawling things with horrid teeth. They said: "This is socialism! What about the discipline of the markets. Who are these people leading happy prosperous lives? Who is that guitar hippy? Hand me my stick..."
Roundabout that time, things got a whole lot worse. Imagine a youthful happy face. Imagine a blunt knife inserting itself into the mouth of that face and carving its way out again through the cheeks. Imagine bruised eye sockets. Imagine fat greasy fingers grasping the eyeballs within those sockets. Imagine those fingers crushing those eyeballs to jelly and feeding them into a bloody red mouth. Imagine pustules. Imagine buboes. Imagine a giant frying pan coming up behind that face and whacking, whacking whacking it - and a cold cackling coming after every clang. Imagine death, decay, ebola, hate, Ayn Rand. Isn't it horrible thinking about Amazon?! Imagine also novels being sold for less than the price of a cup of coffee just to force publishers into bankrupcy. Imagine forcing bookshops across the world out of business, creating a monopoly and then refusing to stock books if people don't present their heads to receive and enjoy the frying pan treatment. And that's pretty much the story, give or take a few expensive lawyers.
Okay. Maybe you think I'm coming on strong. And look. If you want to shop in amazon that's fine with me. I'm sure Jeff Bezos will kill some sweet big-eyed puppies in your honour, and cackle, and remove another human limb from the freezer and eat it with the ice still packed around it.... because that's the temperature of his blood.
But seriously. I urge you not to shop at Amazon this Christmas. Can we make this an Amazon-free Christmas?
You know the alternative don't you? That's right. Christmas-free Christmas. No stockings on the mantelpiece. No fire in the grate. No Father Christmas coming down the chimney. No glow in Rudolph's nose. No oats in Blixen's manger. In fact, Blixen, after working three years on minimum wage on a zero hours contract, has been replaced with a drone and given no severance pay. She heaves her thin skeletal frame back to the barn to discover a letter from the government telling her she's been evicted because of the "spare" stall that's been there since Blitzen walked out into a snowstorm muttering something about going for a short walk... Cupid's been hitting the Buckfast again and wants to start a fight with Vixen. Comet's picked up some pasta from the foodbank, but can't afford to heat it, so he's crunching it up raw. I'm not going to tell you what happened to Dancer and Prancer, it's too sad. And as for the big man in the red coat. Let's just say he's not laughing any more. And you know who is laughing, don't you? Jeff Bezos. And when Jeff Bezos laughs, angels cry, flowers die and writers don't want to know why.
Damn me! I'm a poet! Who said writing was hard?!
Is that too much? What would happen if we lost Amazon? where would we be without Amazon and Jeff Bezos? We'd all live in a fairer, more just world where writers earn more money, independent bookshops stay open and who wants that?! Where would the story be? It would be like the Lord Of The Rings without Sauron, Harry Potter without either Voldemort or Slitherin House, British Politics without the Tory party. It would be like medicine without disease. And okay, you're maybe thinking that would be a good thing - but think of all the researchers who would suddenly have nothing to do. Think of all the drug companies suddenly making less money. Think of all the extra doctors on golf courses. Who wants that? That's why we need Amazon just like we need the unstoppable trots, warts on our nethers and giant pulsating buboes on our hooters.
If I sound bitter, it's because my business is so precarious. I've seen things you can not imagine. I've seen publishers.... Oh the poor publishers. And Jeff Bezos, evil Amazon obergruppenfuhrer celebrates every publisher that goes out of business. He celebrates by snatching little wombat babies from their mother's teats and bashing their heads against the walls of one of his giant, cold, lifeless warehouses. He's killed so many now that the floor is a mass of pulp and blood and broken cuteness. And because he won't let his workers join a union, they haven't even been able to put welly boots on. Can you believe that man? Next, he's coming for all that you hold dear.
In fact, did you know that as I read this, he's banging nails into the nose of a baby deer? For fun! Andrew Wylie is heating the nails up over a forge file until they're so hot they're almost dripping and Bezos is taking them from him and using a giant hammer to ram them into that lovely wet snub nose. He's laughing at the kicking and struggling of the sweet baby animal.
And do you know what else makes Jeff Bezos laugh? Me neither, but I'm willing to guess:
That bit in the film where the dog dies
The day your own dog died
The fact that your granny is no longer alive either
Five-year-olds finding out the truth about Father Christmas
E.T. losing his glow
Elvis joining the army
The break up of The Beatles
The existence of Coldplay
Tories winning elections
Poverty stricken writers
The death of literary culture
Some of that was made up. But I have done some actual research too.
Did you know, for instance, that Jeff Bezos is putting his horcruxes inside Kindles? He gets to make one every time a publisher dies or a bookshop closes. And he doesn’t even care that his soul is splitting into broken twisted shards.
Jeff Bezos also drinks unicorn blood. Not to preserve his life, or anything like that. Just because he enjoys killing unicorns and revelling in their agonies.
Jeff Bezos laughed when Dobby died.
But Jeff Bezos cried when Margaret Thatcher passed on.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t have a heart. Jeff Bezos actually runs on nuclear power.
Jeff Bezos does not have a male organ either. Instead he has a mini version of his own naked body sticking out of him. That too has a mini version of his own body instead of a penis. And yes, that in turn, has sticking out from its middle, a tiny naked Jeff Bezos… And so on, in an infinite loop of ever smaller men with shiny heads sticking out of men with shiny heads.
No one knows how Jeff Bezos goes to the toilet.
Jeff Bezos broke your favourite doll. That’s right. It was Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos is responsible for all the Spam email sent since 1993. He sends each one personally and individually. He has broken the laws of space-time specifically to enable him to do this just because he just wants to piss you off.
Jeff Bezos runs a company that does not pay its fair share of tax.
Jeff Bezos hates the spring.
Jeff Bezos hates you.
Seriously. Just listen to the things that happened in 2016. Last year,
we saw the expose of appalling working conditions in the US and here in the UK.
We were again told about pitiful amounts of tax paid.
We discovered amazon has been selling illegal weapons.
Amazon even plastered Nazi style symbols all over the New York Subway.
So much for the public face of Amazon. But what about the things that went under the radar? The secret things that haven’t yet been reported and he is hoping will never be revealed? Well, luckily, I’ve been able to find out. My discoveries have been pretty shocking.
You will be horrified to learn that:
Jeff Bezos has been adding extra orange creme flavoured sweets to packets of Revels and eating all the toffee ones himself.
Jeff Bezos has been deliberately walking his veruccas around your local swimming baths. That’s right. No special socks. I’m also sorry to tell you that he took a secret wee while swimming far too slowly in the fast swimmers’ lane.
Jeff Bezos has spent several of his afternoons phoning up listener request radio shows all over the world and encouraging them to play ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay.
Sometimes, he has also been working mornings for Foxtons estate agency. He doesn’t need the money. He just enjoys ‘the hunt’.
Jeff Bezos has been the person buying all the gig tickets the second they go on sale and feeding them on to touts. Jeff Bezos loves touts. Didn’t get to see the Cure? Blame Jeff.
Jeff Bezos sat opposite you on the train, opened a big pot of Wasabi stink-and-noodle soup and ate it with his mouth open.
Jeff Bezos bought shares in your local train franchise.
For the past year Jeff Bezos has mainly enjoyed riding around in his BMW, failing to indicate at roundabouts, tailgating you on the straight, driving in the middle lane on motorways and refusing to pull over, even for ambulances.
Whenever he parked, he deliberately took up two spaces.
And he repeatedly chucked his rubbish from McDonalds out the window.
What a cockchafer.
Also, all year long, Jeff Bezos did not use a tissue when he sniffed. He did not use a tissue for anything.
Jeff Bezos cold-called you.
Jeff Bezos walked through the door you were holding open for him, and Jeff Bezos did not say thank you, and Jeff Bezos left a little stinky memory of his passage too.
Jeff Bezos changed your seat height when you weren’t in the office.
Jeff Bezos stole your wheelie bin, and left his own outside on the pavement. All year long.
Jeff Bezos tried to read over your shoulder.
Jeff Bezos enjoyed visiting your local cinema, where he talked and played on his phone throughout the entire film you were watching.
Jeff Bezos sent you abuse on Twitter and then wrote a needy online article about the persecution of middle aged white males.
Oh and that wasn’t dog muck you stepped in. Nope. It was Jeff.
Okay. I've now spent quite a bit of time talking about the terrible things Jeff Bezos does while he’s at work. But have you ever wondered what he gets up to in his down time? How does a busy Bringer Of All Evil relax? I’ve done some research and the results are absolutely unbelievable. Here are just a few crazy samples:
He goes to strangers’ funerals and laughs.
He goes to food banks and laughs and steals the food.
He watches the final ever episode of Blackadder Goes Forth and doesn’t laugh. Until right at the end. When they all go out to die. Then he snorts like a pig with truffles.
He lets the air out of wheelchair tires.
He feeds the pigeons. He gives them everything they want and cries: “Fly my beauties, fly.”
He waits until you’re out so that he can park his car in your favourite spot, right outside your house. And yes, you bet, he drives an SUV.
He scratches and obscures the plastic in front of bus timetables and public information signs. That’s right! It was Bezos who did that.
He goes down to your local swimming pool, jumps in and relaxes in a way you really don’t want him to relax. That’s right. Jeff shits in your swimming pool.
You look at me like I'm exaggerating. But I have serious concerns. For you. For your soul. It isn't just that Amazon destroys writers and publishers. It's the worrying fact that if you shop at Amazon, a gnawing emptiness will steadily move through your insides. Your liver will curl up and your stomach will boil. Black angels with hooded eyes will start gathering around your head and whispering cruel truths to you about your recent sexual performance, alongside dark reminders of your own mortality. Small children will eye you in disgust and run from you in fear. Dolphins will not swim with you. Monkeys will throw their caca at your face. Dogs will catch rabies from licking your tears. The Dalai Lama will stop smiling. He will renounce peace and make sinister motions with his hand across his throat and swear, and spit in your eyes. Margaret Thatcher will rise up from her unquiet grave and you will discover that she is your new boss. Was your new boss. You've just been fired. Your house has burned down. Your lover has left you. Your car has been wrecked. Your children have started sniffing glue. Your parents have revealed they are not your parents after all and they never loved you anyway. Flowers have lost their scent. All music has gone from the world, apart from the Macerana. Ai! You are not allowed to stop listening to the Macerana. Ai! The sun does not rise. All is black. The oceans are dead, acidic, rising fast and closing in.
The leaves are browning and falling. The seas grow restive and angry. The night sky chills. The day never quite warms. The apples that have dropped from the trees turn yellow and soft and fizz. Worms eat their hearts. Wolves sniff the air and shiver and fill the air with howling. The fold stands empty in the drowned field. The nine mens morris is filled up with mud. Cows produce blood from their udders. Cheese glows green with mould. Your hair is falling out. Your bones turn brittle and your sight fuzzes and you're happy about this last bit at least, because all you could see before was rank corruption, decay, infection, pus, thick-jelly-globules of rancid sweat, birds falling from the sky, cats eating their own sick, rats eating themselves from tail to head, books disappearing from your shelves, strange censorship of your electronic products, an inability to download the new U2 album you don't even want, and poor lame creatures of darkness who do not even have names, their clothes in rags, their bodies a map of festering wounds. These monsters have come from the North, from beyond the wall. Meanwhile, around you, people are giving names to their swords. Names like "Gold Weaver" and "Night cutter". This is embarrassing. Some of them refer to them as "blades". Ladies are tearing off their clothes whenever there's a boring bit of plot exposition to get through. And there's a lot of boring plot exposition to get through. Some awful blonde Tory family has cut off Sean Bean's head. There's a lot of talk about old evil and things you don't understand and there's mud and someone else is going on about dragon eggs and tearing her clothes off and stepping into a fire and oh, god no, oh god no, the undead masses from beyond the wall who eat flesh and feel no cold are staggering down the darkened streets of your dead cities and somewhere, a lonely voice cries out: "Bezos is coming. Bezos is coming."