Politics: I'm just William, and jolly fed up too

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William slouched disconsolately along the lane, his hands in his pockets. Even his faithful Welsh collie, Jenkins, sensing her master's distress, had stopped bringing him sticks to throw; she trotted discreetly at his heels, head downcast.

By rights, it should have been a wonderful summer for William. The weather had been glorious, Mr and Mrs Hague had relaxed most of their term-time restrictions, allowing him to stay out late in the long evenings, and - best of all - the Outlaws had now accepted him as their undisputed leader. What more could a boy have wanted? An endless vista of fights, games and adventures had beckoned, with him, William, always taking on the most heroic and exciting roles.

But it had all gone horribly wrong. The rot had set in when he and the Outlaws had been ousted from the Old Barn by their worst enemies, the Tony Blairites; a group of smart, unctuous, swottish boys from the other side of the village who had taken unfair advantage of a particularly strenuous wrestling match between the Outlaws themselves, to rush in and take over the barn. Since then their exile had weighed heavily upon the Outlaws.

"I know!" William had said one sunny afternoon, as he and his companions had glumly watched the Blairites gambolling in the meadow. "Let's have a polit'cal party. We'll campaign, an' oppose an' things. An' then we'll challenge them to an election, and jolly well win!"

Immediately all their spirits lifted. "But what sort of polit'cal party should we be?" asked Duncan. "A very right-wing one, wot b'lieves in prisons and canes!" suggested Howard. "Woman I know tried that once," objected Cecil, "now no one's interested in it."

Thinking, William ran his hand through his tousled hair, only to discover that he hadn't got any. When at last he spoke it was with the deliberation of genius unburdening itself. "Fresh, Clear an' Open!" he pronounced triumphantly. "That's wot people want. They want toothpaste an' deodorant like it, an' TV presenters like it, so I 'spect they'll want polit'cal parties like it too."

"Well I've read about politics," said Duncan, "an' they're all goin' on walkabouts, an' meeting' the people, an' opposin', so that's what we've gotter do. We've gotter have a strat'gy." So they had agreed a strat'gy.

And it had gone badly wrong. Only a week later, the Outlaws were giving themselves up to recrimination. "Look modern, you tol' me," said William, bitterly. "So I put on that baseball cap - an' ol' Blair wears a suit an' tie, an' everyone says I look ridic'lous, an' he looks prime ministerial. Meet the people, you tol' me. So I met 'em an' met 'em. I met white ones in theme parks, an' I met black ones in Notting Hill, an' I met 'em in Scotland, an' I met 'em in Wales. I kep' on meetin' 'em till my hand hurt. An they said I was a silly smile on legs. Oppose ol' Blair you said, so I jolly well opposed him, over the Queen an' everything, and now you all say you're fed up."

Duncan, Howard and Cecil nodded glumly. "Well I'm jolly well fed up too!" said William. "An I'd just like to see any of you try leadin' an' see if you can do any better!" There was a brief silence. "Mmmm," replied Howard. "I might just take you up on that, William."