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'Witty and brilliant': Lord Baker reviews 'Desperate Times'

'Witty and brilliant': Lord Baker reviews 'Desperate Times'

‘Star’ of the show, Peter Brookes’ cartoon of Boris Johnson following the Priti Patel bullying allegations

3 min read

Covering momentous events including Brexit, Afghanistan and global warming, this is a brilliant collection of Peter Brookes’ beautifully drawn and wonderfully witty cartoons

This latest book from Peter Brookes, the brilliant cartoonist at The Times, covers the period from pre-Brexit to the sacking of Matt Hancock – the final page is a gloomy Hancock standing between two Union Jacks and leaning on a lectern which carries the Covid advice: “Hands – Face – Bottom”. 

This period covers momentous events which will change the history of the world – Brexit, Afghanistan, global warming, economic decline and rampant inflation.

Just when we wanted statesmen and leaders, Brookes depicts how we have been landed with a bunch of freaks – Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson – and with dictators in Russia and China threatening aggression. Brookes shows that billionaires have increased through corruption, and David Cameron is in his garden gathering up not leaves but bundles of bank notes. 

Priti Patel is in a lifeboat next to a tiny island packed with refugees saying, “They’ll get Rockall from me.” Michael Gove’s goofy glasses have eggs instead of pupils following his earth-shattering statement, “Scotch eggs are starters.” Four Jacob Rees-Moggs are lying down on the Commons green benches to ensure social distance and he gets it in the neck for saying Unicef was “playing politics” by providing food parcels – Brookes shows him as Scrooge kicking away Tiny Tim’s crutches.

Brookes depicts how we have been governed by a bunch of freaks – Trump, Bolsonaro, Corbyn and Boris

The star, of course, is Boris Johnson: when Priti Patel defended her bullying “even if unintentionally,” Boris has his hair over his eyes saying, “I am just unintentionally useless.” Wearing a Trump hat, Boris says to Joe Biden, “I have always been your biggest fan, Mr President.” In this year when the UK has the highest number of daily Covid cases and the highest number of deaths of any European country, Boris is drawn leaning not on a lectern but a tombstone with “100,000” engraved on it. 

The only two figures who are spared Brookes’ wonderful wit in this brilliant book is a beautifully drawn profile of the Queen in front of a darkened profile of the Duke of Edinburgh and the caption, “Grief is the price we pay for love”; and Captain Tom Moore walking through a shower of money. 

As we approach a forlorn, empty-shelved Christmas, buy this book as presents for your friends – it will make them laugh in this Brexit bleak midwinter.

Lord Baker of Dorking is a Conservative peer and vice chair and trustee of The Cartoon Museum

Desperate Times by Peter Brookes is published by Biteback

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