MOAB is my Washpot is an account of the first years of Stephen Fry's life, starting with a train journey to Stouts Hill Prep School at the age of seven and ending with the award of a Scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge at the age of nineteen.
Joining In: Through his description of his time at Chesham Prep and Stouts Hill we learn of Fry's nascent kleptomania and mendacity; the story of the dead mole and the nature table; his asthma and acute physical self-consciousness; his lack of sporting prowess; the intense frustration he feels at his lack of musical ability; his speech difficulties and his developing facility for the English language.
Falling In: In this second section, Stephen Fry recounts his ever-growing sense of otherness during his time at the public school of Uppingham. Here, the great event of his life occurs: he falls in love. The object of his obsession is a boy in the year below, with whom he strikes up a kind of friendship. His homosexual leanings thrust him into a new world of literature: he bones up on Wilde, Pater, Douglas, Firbank and Forster. In discussing his otherness, Fry explores the nature of the English middle classes and the role the public school has played in creating them. He describes some of the typical homoerotic shenanigans of the public school environment, then segues into a powerful and emphatic defence of homosexual love and sexuality. He details his ongoing battle with school authority, his lacklustre academic performance, his growing love of comedy, his moment of glory with Matthew Osborne, and finally his expulsion from Uppingham following a period AWOL.
Breaking Out: The final section describes Fry's time in the wilderness, his failed attempts to integrate into academic life at a couple of F.E. colleges, a suicide attempt, his lost virginity, and a criminal spending spree that culminates in him being thrown behind bars. Finally, of course, Stephen Fry rallies his considerable resources, applies himself assiduously to his studies, and ends up being offered a place at Cambridge. He uses the gap year to teach at a prep school where he earns the sobriquet 'the towering inferno'.