The Iron Bird
By Robert Woodshaw
A novel that takes the premise of ANIMAL FARM and applies it to the life of Margaret Thatcher.
Publication date: February 2019Buy
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Forget pigs and carthorses and bring on the Big Beasts, because Animal Farm has been reimagined. This time it’s the creatures in the zoo that have decided to take back control. And instead of a parable about the evils of communism, the fable is the life of Margaret Thatcher.
It’s 2010, and Baroness Thatcher (a lappet-faced vulture) is losing it. And so she’s an unreliable narrator: grand, uncompromising, deluded. But before she drops off her perch, it’s time to set the record straight. What turned a grocer’s daughter from Grantham into the most powerful woman in the world? What put all that infamous iron into her soul?
And it’s also time to take a satirical swipe at other, more recent prime ministers. Who is the battle-scarred rhino caught in the glare of the spotlights? And why does he agree with Nick?
What animal is David Cameron? And why would Lady Thatcher want to inspect some organ that has been inserted into the mouth of a pig?
‘Hilarious – sometimes devastatingly so.’ – Lindsay Clarke, prize-winning author of The Chymical Wedding
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Robert studied English and Drama at the University of London – an experience that led to a brief career in casting, and assistant credits on several films, including Wonderland (1999) and 24 Hour Party People (2002). Come the mid-2000s, though, he realised he could no longer ignore an idea he’d been nurturing for a novel about Margaret Thatcher, and so he retreated to a small town in the foothills of the Italian Alps, took up a teaching position at a local secondary school, and put pen to paper. He still lives in Italy, where he has an Italian civil partner and a pigeon-infested restoration project. The Iron Bird is his first novel.
Let me make one thing clear at the outset: I am a lappet-faced vulture, dear. Of course, the species has more than one name. Indeed, I understand there’s a specimen in another institution that insists on being introduced as a Nubian vulture. But I am afraid one is reluctant to regard oneself as Nubian. Goodness me, no.
There’s nothing wrong with the adjective ‘lappet-faced’. There is not. Oh, I dare say it might not conjure up quite the most attractive image, but make no mistake: the expression is innocuous compared to some of the other language that’s been directed at me over the years. You see, I am sometimes called the most horrid names: a harpy, a milk-snatcher, a cold-blooded carnivore that dines on the dead… It can be most upsetting. Naturally, one tries to push such spiteful comments out of one’s mind. One carries on. One has to; after all, there are more important things in life than being liked.
But even so.
It still hurts to be dismissed as a contemptible creature — of course it does; it hurts just the same. In fact, if I might share an intimate secret, sometimes it reduces me to tears.
Does that come as a surprise? The confession that I occasionally weep. Yes, I can see that it does. What was that? What was that? One is a little hard of hearing. Do speak up.
You’d been expecting a more resilient specimen? You’d assumed that I was a tough old bird?
I see. Well, I shall take that as a compliment, dear. I used to be tough. Goodness me, I used to be as tough as… Not old boots. One hesitates to compare oneself to an old pair of gardening boots. Let me choose another noun: I used to be as tough as iron. But I must admit the truth of the matter is that the onslaught of old age has rendered me rather frail.
What was that? I didn’t catch the question. Don’t sit there stuttering. Come on, dear, this institution belongs to the brave not the chicken-hearted. Spit it out.
How old am I?
I see it is no longer considered impolite to ask a bird her age. Next question, please. The creature sitting over there. The specimen scratching its flea-bitten coat. That’s right. You.
What’s the average lifespan of the lappet-faced vulture?
- 11th February 2019 We did it!
THE IRON BIRD has been published – great!
Obviously, I hope you enjoy it. That said, I do understand that the relationship between an individual reader and a novel is a personal thing. In fact, I should imagine that, just like Margaret Thatcher, this is going to be a book that divides opinion. If so, that’s fine. The important thing is that – thanks to your support – this rather unusual tale about…20th December 2018 The Digital Bird
Seeing as Christmas is approaching, I thought it might be a good moment for a stocking filler – a sneak preview of the digital bird. An unusual gift? Perhaps. But I guess the specimen makes a change from turkey...
What is this digital bird, then? Well, when The Iron Bird is published on 7 February (note: new publication date) everyone who pledged £10 or more will receive a copy of the ebook…1st November 2018 Some Exciting News
In the mood for some exciting news about THE IRON BIRD? Hope so. First of all, though, can I just apologise for the absence of more frequent author updates? True, as the novel progresses towards publication, I’ve been keeping a low profile. But all that is about to change. More in a moment.
In the meantime, though, can I just say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported this project – and…5th December 2017 Competition: "IF THERESA MAY WERE AN ANIMAL...
...WHAT WOULD SHE BE?"
Yes, it's time for a competition. Why? Well, I’ve been amazed at the response to this campaign. It’s just so encouraging that people have chosen to support THE IRON BIRD. And so I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has pledged – especially the people I don’t know, and so haven’t been able to contact personally. And I thought a competition might be an enjoyable…9th October 2017 41%
I don’t know where the idea to use the premise of ANIMAL FARM to take a satirical swipe at British politics came from, but I remember I was hanging a sheet of wallpaper at the time. Of course, I dismissed the thought at once. Why would I want to write a novel about Margaret Thatcher? I had other ambitions, other plans. But the bird that came out of nowhere that afternoon refused to give up the ghost…
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