The swivel eyed loonies are out in force again. This week’s cause celebre? A short story by Hilary Mantel, prize winning writer, in which she imagines an assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher. The Daily Mail has been frothing at the mouth, particularly upset that such a ‘delicate writer’ could even imagine such a thing.

The key is in the word ‘imagine.’ Using imagination is what writers do. Simply imagining a scenario is not proof of intent. It’s a story. It’s what writers do, they write about things that aren’t real. The splenetic response from the Mail misses the point. Hilary Mantel hated Thatcher, loathed her legacy of a divided country, her jingoism, but at no point did she actually attempt to knock her off, nor allow others to do it in her name. We also have to bear in mind that Mrs Thatcher is already dead. Steven Glover would be well advised to recall that important fact.

Mr Glover makes the wholly unsupported contention that in the event of a similar story about a ‘leftie’ such as Tony Benn or Michael Foot there’d have been an outcry. I doubt that. Despite some appearances the lefties have a sense of humour and lack the self-importance that so many righties seem to have.

The frothing Mr Glover also calls for a police investigation. Why, exactly? Nobody batted an eyelid about Frederick Forsyth’s ‘Day of the Jackal.’ Is Mrs Thatcher such a sacred cow that she must be held in reverence in perpetuity?

I’ve fallen foul of this strange belief that if I can write about it, I must have committed the crime. When I published this story about a jealous man taking revenge on his wife

I had people contact me asking, ‘How could you do such a thing?’ I didn’t. It’s a story, about imaginary characters. I admit it’s unpleasant, so much so that EtherBooks refused it, since they could see ‘no market for the explicit violence and implicit sexual undertones.’ They fell into the all too common trap of equating sex and violence with being all bad news. Shows what the editors at EtherBooks know. I have had over 1200 reads, and at one point was getting 250+ per day.

I repeat. It’s a story. It’s fiction. It’s not real. Nor is Hilary Mantel’s story real.