Gerald Bostock is a fictional character created by Ian Anderson for his band Jethro Tull's 1972 concept album, Thick as a Brick; the character is also the focus of Anderson's 2012 solo album, Thick as a Brick 2, as well as its 2014 follow up Homo Erraticus.
Bostock's first appearance is on the original cover art and packaging of the album Thick as a Brick, which is designed to look like a small village periodical (that actually folds out into a full-length newspaper with 12 pages), entitled the St. Cleve Chronicle & Linwell Advertiser. The newspaper makes references to Gerald Bostock as a schoolboy who has written an award-winning epic poem called "Thick as a Brick." In the newspaper, Jethro Tull claims to have adapted his poem to music on their album (though Anderson in fact authored the lyrics himself).
Thick as a Brick
The front-page story of Thick as a Brick's newspaper cover—dated Friday, January 7, 1972—describes the academically exceptional Gerald Bostock as the son of David and Daphne Bostock of No. 6 Pollitt Close, St. Cleve, having moved there as a family four years ago from Manchester.
According to the article, the 8-year-old Gerald "Little Milton" Bostock is something of a literary prodigy who recently received an award for his epic poem ("Thick as a Brick") from the Society of Literary Advancement and Gestation (SLAG). The article focuses on the fact that the award was revoked after Bostock read the poem aloud and used the offensive word "g__r" during a BBC television broadcast and because of doubts about his psychological stability voiced in hundreds of threats and protests from the public. The paper pays respect to Bostock's work by displaying his "poem" in its entirety and notes that Jethro Tull has decided to use the poem as the centerpiece of their new album. (The album is reviewed in the paper by the equally fictional Julian Stone-Mason: a pseudonym of Ian Anderson's).
On the inside cover of the LP (the first page of the "newspaper") there is an additional article entitled 'Little Milton in Schoolgirl Pregnancy Row', which talks about a 14-year-old girl named Julia Fealey (pictured on the front cover to Gerald's left), who blames her pregnancy on Gerald Bostock. The report continues to state that her doctor claims that the girl "was obviously lying to protect the real father."
Thick as a Brick 2
In April 2012, Ian Anderson released a followup, solo concept album, Thick as a Brick 2: Whatever Happened to Gerald Bostock?, about whose premise Anderson states: "I wonder what the eight-year-old Gerald Bostock would be doing today. Would the fabled newspaper still exist?" In this follow-up album, Anderson presents five, distinct, "parallel possibilities" regarding Bostock's adulthood, now forty years after his childhood poetry scandal:
- Gerald the Banker is a ruthless, up-and-coming businessman and financier, who turns to white-collar crime and is subsequently imprisoned; after his release, he lives an ashamed but quiet, comfortable life at 9 Mulberry Gardens.
- "Gerald Goes Homeless" is a gay man whose sexual orientation blossoms in a paederastic relationship with his housemaster at school, but which is neglected and misunderstood by his parents; fleeing his family to live on the streets, Bostock's dignity dwindles through illicit and self-destructive activities until he is approached by a man with whom he enters into a joyous civil partnership, but whose eventual death leaves Bostock alone at 17 Mulberry Crescent.
- Gerald the Military Man is a gung-ho soldier who enlists to fight in the War on Terror; he is traumatized by his experience and disabled in combat, the only of his friends to survive, residing finally at 33 Mulberry Drive.
- Gerald the Chorister becomes fascinated with and starts to practice Christian evangelism, dramatically envisioning himself as a warrior in the service of the Lord and inflating himself with self-righteous piety; however, his money-grubbing leads him to embezzlement for which he is defrocked, landing him a life of sanctimonious solitude at 24 Mulberry Close.
- "Gerald: A Most Ordinary Man" goes straight from his schooling immediately into the running of a corner store and the hobby of rail transport modelling, living a childless adulthood with his sterile wife, Madge; he later sadly sells the shop and his trains, but takes up a new mindless hobby of stamp collecting in his suburban home at 54 Mulberry Lane.
In the style of the original Thick as a Brick's newspaper cover, Ian Anderson set up a parody of a newsletter on the Internet called StCleve.com, which has supposedly succeeded and replaced the now-defunct St. Cleve Chronicle. An article on the homepage mentions the adult Gerald Bostock as a long-time Labour activist who lost his political seat and has now retired from the political arena at age 50 (further claiming that he was, in fact, 10 years old in 1972 rather than 8: a lie his parents used to boost the media attention on him). The article describes that Bostock may now write his memoirs or a scandalous screenplay and that he has recently purchased, on the outskirts of the communities of St. Cleve, Linwell, and Little Cruddock, a 6-acre estate at Mulberry Lane (a possible reference to the hypothetical story of "Gerald: A Most Ordinary Man").
Both Gerald Bostock and the poem are purely the inventions of Ian Anderson and the band. The child model who portrayed Gerald Bostock in the original newspaper/album cover photograph was André C. Le Breton from the Elizabeth Smith Agency; he also appeared in European TV commercials in the early 1970s, and modeled for Freemans clothing catalogues and Russelda knitwear amongst others. Currently he is a music producer and has directed films for bands such as Crass Agenda under the Le Chaos Factory moniker.
- "Thick as a Brick". 2008.
- "Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson On Thick As A Brick 2, The Grammys And More". American Songwriter. 2 February 2012.
- "StCleve.com". March 2012.