Billy Bunter and the Brexit

Watching the Brexit circus from a safe distance in Greece, I can’t help feeling that I have seen it all before. I think it took place on British television in the 1950s, and involved a somewhat dodgy third rate boarding school – called Greyfriars School – and its rather unruly incumbents.

Intended for the education of the sons of impoverished gentry, officers serving abroad and idiot farmer’s sons, it is no wonder that – as with many other similar schools – it was the breeding ground for infamous pranks, total anarchy, and general malingering of one sort or another. The worst practitioner of these black arts was one William George Bunter, otherwise known as Billy Bunter, who – when he wasn’t stealing other peoples cakes and sweets – had great difficulty in telling the truth.

I don’t know if this applied to Eton or Harrow, but judging by those I have met who attended these two schools – including such luminaries as the young Winston Churchill, David Cameron and Boris Johnson – the strict mores of an upper class education, did not always bring out the best in people. Due to their rather loose grasp of the truth and rapidly declining moral standards, many learned to lie through their teeth, in order to allay a damn good public school scragging. Of course, Billy Bunter was the past master of such ‘porky pies,’ saying things like –‘I didn’t steal your cakes, Smith minor, and when I did, nobody saw me!’

So now back to the Brexit. From my distant focal point, it is a wonder to me why the British voting public is prepared to put up with the present selection of so called enlightened arguments. Put forward by at least two of the ex public schoolboys I have mentioned above – who seem to think that intelligent political argument, is based on the wittering’s of a thick taxi driver or a gossiping hairdresser from the nether regions of Potters Bar- when are they going to stop making things up and generally misleading and confusing people in the run up to this important referendum.

They say that the first casualty of war, is the truth, but this is not a war, and to maintain any future political integrity these stalwarts need to stop bending the truth and getting to grips with the real issues and to carefully lay out the pros and cons of staying in or going out of the EU.

There will not be hordes of Syrians roaming the streets of Henley-on-Thames, followed by an even more violent gang of Turkish belligerents, any more than the British sausage being renamed by Brussels as a ‘half bread offal tube.’ And if I hear another childish mantra about straight bananas and cucumbers, I will believe – like others I know – that I have somehow been transported back in time to the dusty corridors of Greyfriars School.

It’s hard to imagine Billy Bunter as a Conservative cabinet minister, or the conniving and mischievous schoolboy William Brown – from Richmal Crompton’s series series of books called Just William – as the Chancellor of The Exchequer, but the more you listen to their political debate, the more you can imagine them stealing each others cakes. Roll on the referendum – Garoo!

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Patrick Brigham

Born in Berkshire, England to an old Reading family, having attended English Public School and a stint at college, author Patrick Brigham moved to London, and went into real estate. After the economic crash of 1989, he licked his wounds, wrote two books, and in 1993 he decided to abandon London, the UK casino economy, and moved to Sofia, Bulgaria. As the editor-in-chief of the Sofia Western News, the first English news magazine in Bulgaria  – between 1995 and 2000 – and as a journalist, he witnessed the political changes in this once hard-core communist country. There, he personally knew most of the political players, including the old communist Dictator, Todor Zhivkov, and his successors, Presidents Jhelev and Stoyanov. He is the author of Herodotus: The Gnome of Sofia, Judas Goat: The Kennet Narrow Boat Mystery, Abduction: An Angel over Rimini, and finally, The Dance of Dimitrios. He has also recently published a play called Judicial Review. Patrick's website: