Tony Blair Crutched and Eye-clipped: An audiobook and some sheep maintenance

by Kit Munro

Today I listened to these chaps

And this chap.


Although the sheep admittedly made a lot less noise than the statesman.

Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997-2007. His memoir, A Journey deals with events that are almost too recent to be called history. Indeed, Blair introduces his memoir not as a history but as a personal account in the form of an extended letter to his country.

Worship him or loathe him he was at the center of world events for these ten years. Ten very recent years. If you worship him then you will find his memoir enlightening. If you loathe him, well at the very least you need to hear his side of the story.

I enjoyed it. Having so long associated him with the British involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I foolishly assumed there was little else to his term as Prime Minister. Tony Blair was, according to his memoir, intimately connected with events in Kosovo, Sierra Leone and the Irish Peace Process. In these spheres, it seems beyond argument that he had a positive influence.

The right he has done would not negate any wrong he has done. If that were so, all any murderer would have to do, to avoid punishment, would be to save a life. But if you are to make a judgment about whether he was a good or bad politician, or even only a good or bad man, then his memoir is required reading for you.

While reading Tony Blair’s memoir may be for the faint hearted, crutching and eye-clipping certainly are not. Read on at your peril…

Eyeclipping is when wool is cleared from where food goes in to a sheep. Wool is removed from around the eyes. In some sheep the wool grows in such a way as to cause wool-blindness. Below is an extreme example.




Crutching is where wool is removed from where the food comes out of a sheep. Long wool here can occasionally cause problems. Below is an extreme example of the problem caused and solved.




So at times crutching is not a pleasant job. Still as usual an audiobook turns an unpleasant job in to an informative and at times entertaining experience. Make what you will of this passage from A Journey

Creating time for a leader is a near-sacred task. The person in charge of it is one of the most important in the team, and they have to be completely ruthless in saying no. The leader has always got to be the good guy. You bump into someone; they ask for a meeting; you agree, of course. What can you say? ‘You’re too tedious, too unimportant and have nothing of interest to say’? Of course not. You have to say yes. It’s the job of the scheduler to say no. ‘But he agreed to see me.’ No. ‘But he said he wanted to see me’. No, ‘But he said he had been meaning to call me himself to fix a meeting’. No. ‘But..’ No.

We used to have a phrase in the office called, in mock severity, ‘SO’, which stood for ‘sackable offence’. It applied to scheduling a meeting with people who were never to cross the threshold. It applied even if I had agreed to the meeting. It applied –I am a little ashamed to say– even if I had expressed to the individual concerned my deep frustration with my own office for defying my wishes and not scheduling the meeting.

Does this passage show that Tony Blair has no integrity, or does the very inclusion of this unflattering passage show that he has great integrity?

I found my copy of A Journey by Tony Blair here. Copies are also available at Random House Audio here and at Simply Audiobooks here. If anyone knows of another place this audiobook is availible please let me know in the comments below.