My family by T Blair, aged 50

26th September 2003 at 01:00
What would a graphologist and cartoonist make of this fund-raising doodle by the PM? Michael Shaw finds out

A doodle by Tony Blair and a self-portrait of a shifty-looking Jeffrey Archer in his prison clothes were among an exclusive collection of pictures auctioned this week to help a city boys' school.

Teachers at King's Heath boys' school in Birmingham sent letters to more than 100 celebrities last term asking them to help their bid to become a specialist maths and computing college.

At least 67 stars responded to the request for a drawing or an autograph, including the Prime Minister, the actors Albert Finney and Richard E Grant, and comedians Ronnie Barker and Ricky Gervais.

The auction raised more than pound;2,000, with the cartoons by Jeffrey Archer and Tony Blair fetching pound;60 each.

Steve Bizley, deputy headteacher, said King's Heath had been forced to think of creative ways to raise the pound;50,000 it needs to gain specialist status. The school could not expect major donations from parents because it was in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham, he said.

"I couldn't believe it when we had a reply from Richard E Grant because I'm a fan of Withnail and I," he said.

"But when I told the pupils they said 'What's Withnail and I?'".

Countdown co-presenter Carol Vorderman was the only celebrity to respond who had any connection with the school's target specialist subjects. Other television figures who replied included Davina McCall, Graham Norton and Sir Trevor McDonald.

Graphologist Corinne Bible examined the cartoon by Jeffrey Archer and the drawing by Tony Blair, under which he has written "That's me, Cherie and the kids!" for The TES.

Mrs Bible said: "The Blairs are known to be extremely anxious about their family's privacy and threaten to sue people over it. So it is interesting that he has drawn each of the family members as faceless individuals without any identifying features.

"Jeffrey Archer, on the other hand, is a larger-than-life character. His cartoon is full of detail, which you would expect because he is used to filling in details as an author."

The cartoonist Martin Rowson dismissed Mr Blair's drawing as "crap", although he added it was "nice to know the Prime Minister is a minimalist".

He was more impressed by Lord Archer's cartoon, drawn a week after his release from prison. "There is a degree of self-awareness in it that surprises me," Mr Rowson said. "There is also a touch of Ronald Searle's Molesworth in the way he has drawn the hair and the shifty eyes.

He may be a better cartoonist than a novelist."

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