Sunday, March 11, 2007

Anthony Blair, Captain of School by an Old Boy (John Morrison)

By day, John Morrison is Reuter’s Westminster correspondent, a man who follows the daily machinations of the new Labour government. And maybe in his idle moments, when speeches were dragging on too long, or obscure topics were being discussed, his mind wandered into a distant fictional world, one where Blair and Brown were school boys, overseen by the headmaster Dr Bush.

A world where a boy named Prescott writes poetry, Campbell works for the school rag, the Rocket, paid for by Murdoch, and an unpopular boy called Mandelson who volunteers to be the toast fag for both Blair and Brown until he has to chose between them.

And he wrote it all down. And so I recently finished reading Anthony Blair Captain of School by an Old Boy. It’s an old-fashioned hardback, with a colour face plate stuck to the front, and it follows a chap called Anthony Blair from his first encounter with Archer on the way up to first term by train, through his scraps and scrapes, to his sudden rise to be house Captain, and later thrust into the position of Captain of School (the head boy).

We follow his hunt for the weapons of mass destruction missing rifles that he says are hidden in a pub cellar in town, his encouragement for Hoon (in charge of the school Rifle Corps) to take action in the town, and the tragic consequences.

It’s a fun satire, with a real story and well-developed characters, along with a sense of darkness and futility that clouds over Blair and his actions as the story progresses. Well worth a read, particularly at the discounted price Amazon are flogging it for at the moment.

Pauline Reynolds in the Sunday Life sums up the book from a local context:

“Take a few blokes called Blair, Adams and McGuinness, a handful of missing rifles and a toast to the ‘Republican Brotherhood’. Combine this with a rendition of the Wearing of the Green and a visit to Ma Mowlam’s dodgy boathouse, and you begin to feel the sense of a new book about to be published.”

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