Private Lee O’Callaghan is the 63rd British soldier to die in Iraq since the conflict began. His picture stared out at me from the front pages of the Metro, a face full of hope as well as the cynicism and sense of humour that makes the British Army what it is. As usual in reporting his death the tabloids completely miss the point when harping on about him only being 20 years old. Even at that young age he knew the risks involved and would have been trained to an extremely high standard. And since experience is communal in the forces, as tragic as it is his age has nothing to do with him being shot.
Lee’s attitude towards finishing the task in hand stands in complete contrast to that of the individual who sent him to Iraq in the first place. Whilst Piety Blair holidays indifferently in the Bahamas, the British Army continues to serve their country with growing disillusionment in the cause. Such is the inner circles contempt for the foot soldier that they add further to the degradation by paying them appalling wages and issuing life saving equipment to a strict budget.
After Lee’s death and watching Fahrenheit 911, I wondered whether Blair would consider his own son in the predicament of being a soldier in Iraq. More likely that he will be anxious to guide him towards a life like his own, of continuing privilege and soft hands, one of safety and the all important parental pride. In keeping with the stop at absolutely nothing middle class obsession with education, the Blairs will be sending their son to Bristol University. Here he will be able to relax with other blunted young men with soft hands, in the Peter Foster flat.
If Piety Blair isn’t to busy eating olives with precious Euan in the Tuscan foothills, or making history at the Olympics with Bush, maybe he could find time to spare a thought for the likes of Lee O’Callaghan.
Lastly, holiday or not he should have been here at the airport for the arrival of every dead soldier, it really is the least he could have done.