Anthony Blair Captain of School - By an Old Boy

13th January 2006 at 00:00
Anthony Blair Captain of School - By an Old Boy

By John Morrison

Black Pig Books pound;9.99

A long-retired TES editor once famously advised his staff that there was "nothing funny about sex". The same could be said, with rather more justification, about the occupation of Iraq.

Nevertheless, the Stop the War Coalition website has some wacky items for sale. There is the "Make tea not war" tea towel showing Tony Blair brandishing a machine gun and wearing a teapot on his head. Sticks of seaside rock with "Stop the War" running through them are also on offer.

At least one other item could be added to that list of quirky anti-war merchandise: Anthony Blair Captain of School - By an Old Boy. This spoof Edwardian boys' adventure story, set in an English boarding school, was written by former Reuters correspondent John Morrison and is his personal protest against the invasion of Iraq.

We get no hint of its serious message in the opening chapters, which describe the eponymous hero's arrival at St Stephen's, a clifftop college that bears a striking resemblance to the Houses of Parliament. But it is immediately obvious that the author takes our political masters rather less seriously than they would like. Young Blair is a spotty 14-year-old who is good at "making things up". He quickly adapts to the St Stephen's regime with the help of a fellow boarder called Brown, a scholarly but dour Fifer whose catchphrase is: "Pounds 50 a year... that's an awful lot of money in Kirkcaldy."

"Sooty" Blair charms not only Matron Boothroyd and the porter's daughter, Cherie, but Mr Berlusconi, proprietor of the local ice-cream parlour. He also wins the undying support of his "toast fag", a scheming boy called Mandelson (surely no reference to the European trade commissioner). And before anyone can say "Yaroo! Crumpets for tea!" young Blair is captain of school.

His reputation plummets, however, after he and his Bible-toting headteacher, Dr Bush, send the school rifle corps into Mesopotamia, the slum district of the nearby town. Not even the boys with the real power, Murdoch and Campbell, who run the school newspaper, appear able to save him.

Subtle satire? Perhaps not. However, those who have been waiting for the Prime Minister's downfall with increasing impatience since the last election may experience a frisson of pleasure from the fictional comeuppance that Morrison has in store for the captain of St Stephen's.

They will certainly love it in Kirkcaldy.

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