Book Review: Honest, Not Invent


Brick. For the use of rubbing up and down.
Andrewlister, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Stanislav, a young Polish plumber, in reality a creation of blogger Ismael Smith, now sadly no longer with us.

His comments first appeared below the line in the place we don’t speak of, and subsequently transferred to the Call Me Ishmael blog.

Writing as Ishmael in December 2010, he explained:

“My young friend, stanislav, the polish plumber, never capitalised his name and always spoke of himself in the third person. But this was because, in his heart of hearts, he knew he didn’t really exist.”

However, in those early, heady days, when comments were cash to a certain fat Irishman, Stanislav brought a breath of fresh air to the stultifying political scene.

His trenchant observations of the weaknesses and moral turpitude of our political masters, coupled with an acidic wit, and tongue to match, brightened up this reviewers working day.

He created an alter ego, the eponymous Stanislav, who struggled to make sense of senseless situations, often reverting to his remedy of “quick rub down with housebrick” as punishment for those politicians who deserved no less a retribution.

It was inevitable that, as moderation descended on the comments in that other place, that he would fall foul of the rulez, but he went on to better and greater things on his blog, which I urge everyone to read.

Indeed, in a reference to his moderation he referred to the other place as “The Pizza House Of Blood” (something to do with crowd-funding junk-food for the IDF.)

His wit shines through almost every sentence, phrases that he used have slipped into common usage, the rub down one; Sofa-cunts; the drywank jawdrop; honest, not invent; these and others are now fixtures in the Ishmaelite lexicon.

Straight after the introduction the reader is inducted into the Stanislav put down; his retort to criticism from johnny w is a classic of invective, observation, polemic and crudity.

Would that we could all express ourselves in a like manner to the petty slights which come our way, I know that he has enriched my use of my mother tongue.

In response to a critic of his use of certain swear words he wrote this:

When people behave as badly as those in Westminster there is absolutely no point in challenging them with rhetoric and sophistry, they are too stupid; Caroline Flint, Hazel Blears, Bob Ainsworth, they are fucking idiots; few of them can frame a sentence, let alone marshal an argument. Stupid cunts.

No, it is not infantile, nor teenage, to hope that maybe Alistair Campbell’s precious spawn, safe from military action, might say to him, one day, Dad, why does everybody call you a cunt?

Cutting, I think you’ll agree, but also accurate.

When he speaks of the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, he pulls no punches, his ocular problem, his alleged bad tempered outbursts, the nappy and rocking horse stories, none of this is taboo to Stanislav.

His musings on Bowel Cancer screening, Laser Eye Surgery, Piano Tuning and Ringo Starr’s prowess as a drummer (of sorts) brings tears to the eyes, and tea down the nostrils.

Nothing, literally nothing, is outside his remit, Politics, Religion, The Royal Family, Snobbery, the NHS; all grist to the mill.

His “State of the Union” article is a gem, it is cutting, pointed, crude, funny and above all else, accurate.

Stanislav’s take on Scotland and its First Minister Alec Salmond is delightful

Scotland, as we say in the plumbing community, too big to be small

and too small to be big…

Our triple-salaried and -pensioned minority Lavender King, so pleased with himself that he bathes in his own piss, has vowed, for the next seven days, to Eat for Scotland – haggis, oats, rhubarb, haggis, chips ‘n’ Mars Bar, turnips, shortcake, haggis, potatoes, caramel wafers and tinned custard – as part of a national promotion of Scotch haute coronary cuisine. Honest, not invent.

………………….and so on.

Ishmael is a wordsmith par excellence, he ranks alongside Swift, Boswell, Wilde in his use of the printed word, and his put-downs rival those of Coward and (Groucho) Marx.

This book is a joy. It chronicles the human condition through the eyes of an outsider, but one who is unencumbered by the polite conventions imposed on us by “our betters”

Please, please, please, if you have never heard of Ishmael Smith, or his alter ego, Stanislav, do yourself a great favour, buy this book, read it, use his way of deflating pomposity, and, over all else, just damned well enjoy the writings of a modern literary genius.

(Ed. If you’d rather not buy from Amazon it is also available from Lulu. See The Sunday Ishmael: Publication Announcement: Honest, Not Invent where there is a review and links to other purchase options).

© Grimy Miner 2021

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file