Meeting Mr Sheep – Tony Blair in the Wilderness 15

Tony “Bono” Blair is a bit confused. He believes he is the famed British Prime Minister of the same name, deposed after winning a third term. Things begin to look up for Tony when a letter arrives offering a position with McCreedie construction. Thinking he is taking over as CEO of a powerful NASDAQ company, Tony accepts the offer and travels to Scotland, hoping to meet the people, regain their trust, and use his new career as a springboard back into high office. The new career isn’t all Tony had hoped, and he finds himself building a cement runway at Ardrossan International Airport.

…Tony settles in to dull lab work…but he’s about to meet his new flock…and what about those suspicious drums of liquid?…Tony continues his journey into the wilderness…

Sweeping the lab was my first job. I had seen the future, and it was Blair-shaped. I jumped on a small, but not insignificant, pile of dust, causing it to rise around me like a smokescreen. Grabbing the broom, I swept another, larger, dust mountain and watched it rise majestically before me. My new clean sweep policy was forming in my head as I swept. I felt the power of the broom to clean the streets, the power invested in me by the people, and I was learning fast.

Jet engines roared, and I looked out of the filthy lab window. I would clean the window next. To be a true visionary, I needed spotless windows and shiny contact lenses. The engines roared to stop, and I saw a plane overshooting the runway and ploughing several fields. It taxied on the old runway with its light flashing like a tiny heart. In the same way, I was bringing the lifeblood of hope into a sea of despair and hey! Those people were glad to see me.

A man in a combat jacket was walking towards the lab, obviously on a pilgrimage to, you know, see me because he’d heard there was a wise man in town, a new prophet. I so expected that kind of attention. I liked his cool fatigues. I felt a sense of strength, honour, and responsibility, being commander-in-chief to such a physically powerful man. I heard the lock turn and prepared to lift my first excited subject to his feet and bond with him, man to man.

But something was wrong. No one entered. I ran to the door and tried the handle, but unless it was jammed, I was locked in the lab. I caught on pretty quick. He’d locked me in.


There had to be some misunderstanding. The man must have felt I needed protecting, which was understandable given the head-above-the-parapet nature of my quest. I went back to the window and gave a muscular, ‘I’m here’ wave. I saw the mixer turning like a barrel on a waterfall. It hadn’t stopped all day. I no longer heard the low grinding noise, but it was always there, a hidden, powerful, ancient force for good, not to be defeated, like me.

A truck went past carrying huge coloured drums. I hammered the glass, but to my surprise no one noticed me locked in the lab, shouting for help. I hammered again, and then I heard the door unlock. The door opened. Someone coughed and I looked round. Aristotle Paterson was standing at the open door.

“You’re standing in a dust storm, sir.”

It was true, I was. There was dust everywhere, and it was very inconvenient. I grabbed the broom and charged the door with all the power invested in me by the people of this great country. But the broom wasn’t easy to control, and I accidentally peppered Paterson’s shoes with dust. He shook the dust off his shoes, and looked around suspiciously as though there was an arsenal of rocket launchers hidden in the lab.

“Put the broom down, sir. I think a few more lessons are called for.”

He held out his hand. He wanted the broom. I handed him the broom and he took it off me. Obviously, I had to try harder, and I respected his decision, but then he wanted me out of there.

“Get your suitcase, sir, and stay close to me. I don’t want any trouble.”

“What trouble? I just got here. You’re twisting my arm, man. Who locked me in? What’s going on?”

But Paterson was already walking. I was used to the cautious military approach. Vigilance was essential at all times. I grabbed the suitcase, and tried to step out of the boiler suit all at once. The new helmet fell off, hit the floor and rolled towards Paterson. He picked it up, and held it up to the bare light bulb. Apparently, it had suffered microscopic damage and I had to get a new one.

“You can’t see it but once it’s weakened, sir, it’s useless. Hailstone would go straight through it now. You never know what’s going to fall out of the sky on you.”

I followed him out of the lab and looked up, not wanting anything to fall out of the sky on me. I dragged the suitcase across the site towards the car, contemplating my new political importance and growing significance in the scheme of things.

Paterson opened the back of the car, pushed a child’s tractor, and a set of golf clubs to the back. The man was obviously a daddio who liked to perfect his drive. He lifted my suitcase in.

I noticed the man in the combat jacket, the man who’d locked me in the lab, staring at me, and he wasn’t going to go away. It occurred to me that he was less of a follower, and more of a pain in the ass. It was going to be harder than anything I’d ever done to bring him into the fold, my potential flock of one, my Mr. Sheep.

A truck passed with more coloured drums of liquid. It was way past six, but nobody was going home. Each coloured drum had an orange Hazardous Chemical sign, and I could see drab liquid through the thin plastic. Drab meant dangerous. And then it all made sense: the liquid, the warning sign. The drums were full of hazardous chemical, just like it said on the side. I didn’t do hazardous chemical. The thought of what hazardous chemical might do to me made me shiver because hazardous meant dangerous. It didn’t mean safe—it meant someone was going to do something stupid, and it meant a high probability of death by misadventure. You know, I wasn’t prepared to play high stakes with the lives of ordinary people.

“What’s the chemical for Paterson?”

Paterson hit his head on the underside of the hood.

“What’s the what for, sir?”

“The hazardous chemical?”

According to Paterson, wondering was not for me to bother myself with.

“It’s for making life a whole lot easier. It’s all about safety at the end of the day, sir.”

“You know, call me a pedant, but how can hazardous chemical be about safety?”

But Paterson was adamant he didn’t have any hazardous chemical. Apparently, it had all been destroyed. I could inspect the entire place if I wanted to.

“What is this, sir, question time? Forget the chemicals.”

“But, hey! I saw them.”

“You saw them on the way to the dump to be destroyed, sir.”

He slammed the hood and climbed in, gunning the engine with his foot down so gravel flared behind. I jumped in not wanting to be left behind. The car slid with Aristotle Paterson steering hand over hand like a rally driver aiming at the gate with his foot to the floor. The car hit a tarmac ridge and bounced onto the road going flat out towards the turning. He braked hard and I grabbed the dashboard.

“You know, I think I’m within my rights to want photographic evidence to prove you’ve destroyed the hazardous chemical.”

Paterson was working through the gears with a grim look on his face that matched the surface of the coast road and the grey sea.

“I found a great little bed and breakfast. Great food. Do you snore, sir?”

“Oh that’s good, that’s very good. The old try-to-change-the-subject routine. You’ll have to wake up earlier than that to catch out a worm like me. Try again.”

But Paterson was adamant. He wanted to know about my snoring.

“Everyone knows whether they snore or not, sir, and we’re going to be sharing.”

Sharing was not good. That was like finding I’d be going on a long car journey with the deputy PM, Johnny Prescott. I stared at the tiny inlets and weed-stained shoreline flying by.

“How would I know if I snore? I’d be asleep when I snored, but I can assure you, I am listening to your concerns. When I am returned to power, I shall make sure that snorers are separated from non-snorers. The world will be a more peaceful place and children will be able to sleep in their beds with cheesy grins on their angelic little faces knowing that nasty snorers will be locked up and the key thrown away. That’s tolerance.”

Paterson doubled back on a hairpin so the tyres cut through their own spray. I saw the sign for Ardrossan, the place that drove men mad. It made me want to open the car door and jump, although I wasn’t scared in a weedy way, but in a manly way. Fear was like, so good for the soul.

The car dipped towards the middle of the road. A white truck headed straight at us—McCreedie’s truck.

Tony Blair: The Wilderness Years ISBN 1-4196-0573-9

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Dedicated To Me, Tony ‘Bono’ Blair.

Without Me, None Of This Could Have Been Possible.