The World According To Danny Dyer

It hardly needs to be said that The World According To Danny Dyer is a strange book. I thought it was strange and I’d finished it last week, just before I went on the tramadol. Heaven knows what it would have been like if I’d read it while under the influence. (It’s strange enough writing about it with all those painkillers in my bloodstream.)  It is an ambitious book too – it doesn’t limit its ambition just to the world (Danny has some things to say about UFOs and outer space too). Danny Dyer, for those of you not aware of him, was an actor from the East End of London who starred in various geezer-type films and documentaries (you might find yourself, unable to sleep, at 4am watching Danny Dyer’s Top 100 Football Hard Men, or Danny Dyer’s Top 50 Violent Snooker Players, or Danny Dyer’s Top 25 Roughest Pubs on Channel 5). He then made it onto the cast of East Enders, where he’s been the publican of the Queen Vic for the majority of the last decade. He has three children (his eldest was on Love Island and rejoices in the name ‘Dani’ – shades of George Foreman’s naming scheme there) and although he’s usually the punchline to a joke, there was a great Emperor’s New Clothes moment recently when he called David Cameron a ‘twat’ twice on national television, while successfully referencing the pig allegations that dogged Cameron since the Bullingdon Club. (Oh dear, I’ve referred to ‘dogging’ as well now…)

Danny (I think having read this book we should be on first name terms, right?) has an … interesting turn of phrase. On the near-anniversary of 9-11 in 2011, he tweeted that it had “done his nut in” that “them slags” had flown planes into the World Trade Center. I saw some criticism of this, arguing that Danny wasn’t the right person to go to the Middle East and explain geopolitics to Arabs, as if that were a joke in and of itself, but if you don’t have your nut done in by the thought of people flying planes into skyscrapers, aren’t you the one with the problem?

At the end of The World According To Danny Dyer, there’s a translation between Cockney and Received Pronounciation. Just as the 9-11 pronouncement seems to have just been run backwards through the same process, so it is with the rest of the book. If you thought that Danny was a one-trick pony, then either he’s ridden by a fantastic ghostwriter, intent on smuggling left-wing neo-liberalism into the general culture, or you’re downright misguided. There’s Danny on the fallacy of the Trident nuclear deterrent, when the launch codes are controlled by Washington:

I’d cut some foreign aid too, well, the foreign aid we send to the USA, where we very kindly agree to chip into their nuclear programme to the tune of billions for exactly no control whatsoever …
Who else is going to nuke us? Terrorists? Well, it seems to me a little over the top to employ a £100 billion nuclear missile system to retaliate against a bloke’s bedsit in Hackney. I know geezers who will do it over for a fraction of that price.

There’s Danny on the state of the news these days, just propaganda for the military-industrial complex “like the old Soviets but with a horoscope and someone telling you about Kim Kardashian’s arse”.

There’s constant mention of “slices” (somebody who’s a few slices short of a loaf) and “melts” (a term where the etymology is never revealed, implying it’s something too obscene to print). There’s discussion of Paul Gascoigne’s political potential (“maybe in the Lords, where his drink problem wouldn’t stand out so much”). There’s a quotation from the Half Man Half Biscuit song CAMRA Man, there’s the wonderful alliteration about his dinner – “A platter plate. A proper platter plate”, the phrase “He’s got a face that looks ‘lived in’ – by squatters”, Danny’s motto “The early bird that catches the worm: get back in your fucking nest, you feathery little slag” which, although a little wordy, says something wise about the perils of getting up to early in the morning, and reference to the truism in Silicon Valley that ideas are cheap, execution is rare: “They say it’s all about an idea, but any twat can have an idea. Ideas are the easy bit.”

And what else? Well, a discussion of the Fermi paradox, how we should educate teenagers about alcohol, white collar boxing, universal basic income, possibly my favourite part of the entire book:

… let’s face it, there are people who should never be allowed near any sort of job owing to their massive capacity to fuck it up. I can think of plenty of geezers who are much safer sitting at home smoking dope and watching Loose Women than they are being a road sweeper or a khazi attendant. I wouldn’t want to use a khazi they’d attended, that’s for sure, it’d stink and they’d be selling weed out the back of it. I swear some of them could fuck it up so badly someone would die… Slinging ’em a bullseye a week’s cheap compared to the mayhem they might cause left to fend for themselves.

(I read that part in a copy of the book I found in a pottery shop in Poole just under a year ago. How time flies, and how some things remain true.)

And there’s still more – magicians (“the rabbit-smuggling slags”), drug legalisation, vocabulary, how you are defined as middle class (in Danny’s case, because he walks around “my arse smelling of cinnamon”), fox hunting, intrinsic differences between men and women, and a disgusting event of a sexual nature in a strip club.

Basically, it’s got something for everyone. Although maybe not as a Christmas gift for your eight year old niece, I guess. You melt.

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