Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3601 Set by Dipak Ghosh

Now that the class war is finally over (T Blair, 1999), we asked you to describe the musings of a foot soldier returning home from the battlefield after the announcement of the ceasefire.

Report by Ms de Meaner

The class war may be over, but . . . who actually won? The leader mentioned an end to snobbery and prejudice, but some of you thought otherwise. Margaret Rogers thought that "kids won't have to go to private school - going private is no longer cool", while David Barton seemed to thrill to the idea of a T-shirted and trainered lad getting "bloodied" and looking forward to wearing "hunting pink - if I do attain such dizzy heights." £15 to the winners; the bottle to Ian Birchall.

War is hell. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The last push through Pall Mall and the final bastion, the In and Out club, capitulated. Oh, what a fall was there my countrymen, when you and I and all us fell down with laughter as Tommy Atkins strode about the place with no tie on. And then the cold realisation that we'd won, but at what cost? Sceptre and Crown we had tumbled down but in the dust we were all equal-made and worse for it. I miss them now, I need them. What have we done?

After the Peace Conference, talk moved to sweeping change, the grim task of removing forelocks nationwide, of the amnesty to hand in bowlers and the like, ridding the language of the dreaded patronymics that dogged our lives.

But in the wake of freedom lies the fear best featured in the provisional parliament, when criticism was made of cowboys taking advantage of the situation. A woman stood and voiced the view that this was sexist and we should now say cowpersons. When I demurred and suggested that this should be cattlepersons, I struck the first blow in the war to come.

Jerry Ring

I remember the dark days in the 1940s when the Few stood alone. It was terrifying when they came over the top; with their gleaming false teeth and new spectacles, they were like supermen. And there was General Bevan taunting us and calling us "vermin".

But we held on. Years and years of bitter trench warfare. And slowly we gained ground, often fighting weeks just to gain a few yards. Our strategy paid off when we went for the economic infrastructure. We regained control of the railways, the telephones, the electricity supply; the coalmines were destroyed. Of course some hospitals and schools were hit, but that was accidental - just collateral damage.

But it was still touch and go till the 1990s (they always had the advantage of numbers over us). It was only when General Blair and all his people defected and came over that they realised they were beaten. Admiral Prescott, who led the fleet against us back in '66, said he was proud to be one of us.

So now an old soldier can relax, sit back and watch the television . . . God! What's that? Jubilee Line electricians on strike! Fords Dagenham balloting! Where's my bloody rifle?

Ian Birchall

Woke up this a.m. feeling first class. Blast! The language of the enemy is so deeply ingrained in the psyche, which is itself a middle-class, blast, concept. Nevertheless, a little looting is the prerogative of the humble infantryman. What have I here? A receipt from Fortnum & Mason's. A pair of opera glasses. A guide to the Premier League. Chris Tarrant's scalp. Count Spencer's front tooth. The last of the monocles. Detritus of fascists. Now we may all look forward to waving a standard, being as it were equally mean. Life in the fast lane. Tuning to one wave. The lion shall lie down with the lamb, and the doctor shall lie down with the patient, something wrong there, and the captain mate with the mate without number. If captured, I gave only my name. Rank is unimportant, and serial number too hard to memorise. What then is our anthem? "Evening All" by the Equals? "Seconds Out" by the Beautiful North and South? "I Who Have Exactly the Same As You" by the One Degree? Or "Blair on a G String" by Johann Sebastian Bachman Turner Overdrive? Forward march!

Will Bellenger

Well, I've been cashiered and have left the front. I'm surplus to requirements, no longer wanted by the powers-that-be despite my 40 years' service with the Old Benn Battalion. A Sergeant Prescott gave me the news yesterday. "The last battle has been fought at Livingstone; the Campbell Column was overwhelmingly victorious. It's all over now, Private, so go home and reap the peace dividend in a Job Centre near you." To tell the truth, I can't remember much these past years.

I've been shell-shocked since the Battle of Scargill. Can it be true that General Thatcher was defeated at the Battle of Howe? That one of her majors drew his sword and pierced her trusty shield? She knew how to look after the rank and file, that's for sure. But all the time I served under her predecessors, General Heath and General Callaghan, I had no money or baccy. And the lights kept going out. Then we were put on unspeakable fish rations - "the three-day whelk", the volunteers called it. Four of our bunch later defected to Colonel Owen. A lot of good that did them. Then we ended up as Foot soldiers - some advances but many defeats. I met two men from the International Brigade this morning. Seems the next war will be in Belgium. Some tin-pot geezer called Hague stirring it up there.

John O'Byrne

No 3604 Set by John Crick

Assuming Eric Blair (George Orwell) was a relation of our PM, give us an extract from 1999 or Millennium Farm in which Blair the Elder satirises the utopian/ dystopian world of Blair the Younger. Max 200 words and in by 11 November.


This article first appeared in the 01 November 1999 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Interview - David Ramsbotham