Review: Investigation Into Alleged Gatherings on Government Premises During COVID Restrictions, or The Case of the Forbidden Jamborees

Investigation Into Alleged Gatherings on Government Premises During COVID Restrictions, or The Case of the Forbidden Jamborees

Zine, Henry Hardwicke Carruthers, 44 pgs, etsy.com/uk/shop/YourDadsATory, $7

Nixon had “Watergate,” Game of Thrones had “Starbucksgate,” and now the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has “Partygate.” The scandal occurred between December 2021 and February 2022, when Johnson was caught by photographers partying at 10 Downing Street during strict government-sanctioned COVID lockdowns. While measly average Britons were confined to their homes avoiding £10,000 fines, Johnson and his untouchable posse were boozing it up on government property allegedly 12 times, leading to an official (and ludicrous) investigation headed by Second Permanent Secretary Sue Gray. 

Mimicking the formal government report, Henry Hardwicke Carruthers’s political zine Investigation Into Alleged Gatherings on Government Premises During COVID Restrictions, or The Case of the Forbidden Jamborees is a hilarious and creative satire expressing the ridiculousness of both “Partygate” and the Boris Johnson ministry. Carruthers ingeniously recreates Gray’s report by framing the official document as rules to a murder mystery party game, designed to copy the look of a government-authorized investigation. Each of the 44 pages is bursting with whip-smart facetiousness that anyone can appreciate regardless of one’s knowledge on UK politics. The drawings are incredibly intricate, sometimes balancing both humour and repugnance depending on who is being represented (the sketch of Boris Johnson as Peppa Pig is particularly unsettling).

This zine is one you can read countless times and discover a new detail, keeping it fresh with each reopen (and you will want to reopen this gem). There is simply too much to discover and appreciate in Carruthers’ meticulous investigation. I am obsessed with the quality of this zine; the pages are beautifully printed on 130 GSM paper (250 GSM cover), leaving your hands to caress a silky smooth and thick booklet. Carruthers’ creativity lends a new perspective on the continuous mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and stresses the buffoonish and inconsequential investigations that make a mockery of a country. But through a murder-mystery game. Your Clue meets Knives Out meets The Iron Lady dreams have come true. If you love heavy irony, zany and original storytelling, sophisticated writing and illustrations, and delight in that famous British wit, you must add this zine to your anti-establishment collection.