Boris Johnson feels the ire of Prometheus | Stewart Lee

Was the prime minister unwise to compare Brexit to the titan’s eternal punishment?

Even though I am an atheist, I am nonetheless a creative artist. And so the gods regularly manifest themselves to me in my hours of need. Perhaps you envy me my ability to hear the voice of the divine? I in turn envy you non-artists the peaceful silences of your own empty minds.

On Wednesday lunchtime, the goddess Athena, an owl upon her shoulder, appeared to me in the toilet cubicle of a Chinese restaurant near Leicester Square. I was frustrated by both my inability to write this column against the backdrop of political chaos, and a problematic absence of lavatory tissue.

The goddess handed me a piece of paper. “Thank you, my lady,” I said, bending over gratefully. “No, mortal. Read,” Athena boomed from behind her glistering helm. The paper was a set of bullet points towards this week’s column, a satire of the news essentially dictated to me by the goddess herself.

I believe it was I who wrote, on 9 September in the Observer, on the subject of attempts to force Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Cake Bumboys Vampires Haircut Wall-Spaffer Spunk-Burster Fuck-Business Fuck-The-Families Get-Off-My-Fucking-Laptop Girly-Swot Big-Girl’s-Blouse Chicken-frit Hulk-Smash Turds Johnson to take No Deal off the table: “If No Deal is successfully legislated against, and Dominic Cumming is unable to force an election by some backdoor method, then Turds may be trapped in ineffectual office, a Netto Prometheus, chained to the dispatch box, his liver pecked out anew every day by the Eagle of Truth.”

And this week, Turds went to the UN to compare Brexit itself to long-suffering Prometheus. But Turds’s attempts to invoke myth have been blowing up in his face of late, after the wily Irish taoiseach, a bumboy by the rules of Turds’s own lexicon, threw his allusion to Hercules back at him on live TV, like a nailbomb made of legends.

Varadkar’s suggestion that Turds was, like Hercules, an out-of-control psychopath who needed the Athena of Ireland to restrain him was an ultra-high-level hip-hop burn, but only dope classics professors could feel its full heat.

As a rule, the artistic subjects of Turds’s comparisons don’t want his patronage. The Godfather is Turds’s favourite film and includes the lines: “Lawyers can steal more money with a briefcase than a thousand men with guns and masks”; “I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them”; and “We are all honourable men here. We do not have to give each other assurances as if we were lawyers.”

Having heard, on 9 September, that Turds was a Godfather fan, the usually reclusive director Francis Ford Coppola broke his monastic silence to tell the Financial News’s Tom Teodorczuk he hoped his work would not provide “encouragement to someone I see is about to bring the beloved United Kingdom to ruin”. Ooh! Ooooh!! Ouch!!!

The Godfather, it should be noted, also includes the line: “A man who is not a father to his children can never be a real man”, particularly if his own Wikipedia page is unable to say exactly how many children he has, or what their names are.

And I believe it was also I who, two years ahead of the cultural curve as usual, first exposed Turds’s suddenly celebrated Hulk fixation in this very paper, on 21 May 2017. Turds had compared himself, as he had many times before, to the Hulk while talking to a comic shop owner in Newport market, where he was booed by ex-miners and mocked with a hash cake. Hulk creatives were quick to deny Turds’s appropriation of the character.

“I can’t help feeling that Boris Johnson slightly missed the point of it all,” Hulk artist Gary Frank told this paper at the time, “in that Hulk’s alter ego, Bruce Banner, doesn’t actually want to get angry, become stupid and then smash everything to fuck. Do you think Boris Johnson misread the Hulk comics as a sort of Tony Robbins self-help guide to fulfilling your potential?”

During his Tory party leadership campaign, Boris boasted of his love of buses, and his favoured bus company Wrightbus went into voluntary administration last week, despite turning a huge profit, because bosses suddenly felt the very idea of a bus was now tainted beyond redemption.

To date, the American model and businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, star of the Bollywood sex comedy Naughty @ Forty, of whom Turds is a huge fan, is the only artist the prime minister likes yet to make a public statement disassociating themselves from his enthusiasm for their work.

Given that most of the artists Turds reveals affection for immediately try to sever their links to the lying PM, I wondered how the fire-stealing Prometheus himself felt about being cited by Turds at the United Nations as a metaphor for Brexit. So I held tight to the feet of the owl of Athena, as it swept me on the space-winds to the rock upon which the mythic titan himself lies eternally chained, his liver perpetually pecked by an eagle.

Raising his head from the blood-soaked slab, Prometheus said he was pleased I had mentioned him in the Observer earlier this month. His role, as he understands it, is to provide a mythical archetype to help humanity understand its own predicament, and he sometimes feels he is having his liver pecked out every day for no real reason.

But Prometheus disagrees with the comparison of his predicament to Brexit. “No. Boris Johnson himself is Prometheus,” he explained, “trapped in office and pecked to pieces every day by parliament. I thought he studied classics at Eton. Ow ow, my liver!”

Stewart Lee’s new book, March of the Lemmings, is available now. And his new standup show, Snowflake/Tornado, is at the Leicester Square theatre, London from 29 October, with national dates from February 2020


Stewart Lee

The GuardianTramp

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