Who Is Jack Winter ( Part 8)

As the car pulled into Downing Street, Jack could see an army of press and cameramen opposite the door of number ten. It was only five to six in the morning but the circus had already begun.

The chauffeur stopped the car and waited for a moment while he adjusted his tie. Then very slowly he stepped out of the car and onto the pavement. He took his time as he walked to the back of the car and opened the door for Jack. As he got out, Jack waved and smiled at the crowd. He felt like a film star. Just as he turned to enter the building he clearly heard someone say “Who the fuck is that?”

Stephen Wilkes greeted him at the door and swiftly led the way to the PM’s office on the first floor. Jack hoped to god that no tackle would be on display this morning. He was relieved to see the PM standing at his desk, fully clothed. Next to him was a very tall, bald man in his late forties. The PM smiled and walked towards Jack with his arm outstretched. They shook hands. It was only then that Jack noticed the PM wasn’t wearing and shoes or socks.

“Good morning Jack and welcome. I’ll keep our chat brief. I think we covered most thing yesterday. Let me introduce you to Maurice Wells, he’s our press secretary. After our chat he’ll have a word with you about dos and don’ts.

Jack knew all about Maurice. He was a hatchet man, an enforcer, a bully, a spin doctor, and according to most people one evil bastard. Several years before at one of the party conferences, Jack had got Maurice’s ex – girlfriend extremely drunk hoping to get her into bed. It didn’t work but she did tell him that Maurice liked to role play during sex. He would be the burglar while she was always the horny housewife. She said that once he even climbed a ladder and got in through the bedroom window wearing a balaclava while she pretended to be asleep. He’d found it hard to take Maurice seriously ever since.

Jack wasn’t sure whether to sit or stand while the PM took giant strides around the room. He decided to stand.

“There are twenty two members of the Cabinet Jack, half of which are being changed today. YOU will be one of the Big Six. That’s me, you, The Chancellor, The Foreign Secretary, The Home Secretary and the Leader of the House. It’s like being invited to a wedding and finding out you’re on the top table.”

He looked straight at Jack waiting for a reaction.

“It will be a privilege and an honour Prime Minister.”

“That’s the spirit Jack. I need to give us a new look. A younger look. Something that says that we’re in touch with the youth of this country. We’ll always have the older vote but we need to get our message across to the people in their twenties, thirties and forties. After the changes I make today the average age of the cabinet will be just forty two instead of fifty six!”

Jack didn’t give a fuck but acted enthusiastically.

“Great strategy Prime Minister.”

“Thank you Jack. Now you toddle off next door with Maurice and I’ll see you later for drinks.”

They shook hands and Jack followed Maurice into an adjoining room.

They sat down opposite each other in two leather armchairs. Maurice spoke first.

“I hear you’ve got a man who works on The Times and is going to run a story on you tomorrow?”

Jack was day dreaming. He was imagining Maurice with a mask on and a bag over his shoulder marked SWAG.

“Err, yes Maurice. Shaun Roberts. He’s a good man, loyal. We’ve been firm friends since Grammar School.”

“Okay, but I’ll need to have a look at it before it goes out. We’ll need to add a few bits. We need to give you an identity. Something that people will remember you by. Do you like football Jack?”

Jack didn’t. He hated most sports. Couldn’t see the point in any of them.

“No Maurice.”

“Yes you do Jack. You were born in East London so that makes you a life- long supporter of West ham United. People love that shit. You’ll be quoted as saying that you were there at Wembley when they won the FA Cup in 1975 and 1980 and you used to stand on the terraces with your old dad when you were a kid. We’ll say you had a trial for them when you were fifteen. But didn’t quite make the grade.”

Jack was confused.

“But the only thing I know about West Ham is that Bobby Moore once played for them.”

“That’s great Jack. Whenever you’re asked about West Ham, just say something about the great Bobby Moore. What a legend he was, why can’t we play football like he did, shame he died so young, what a team it was back in his day. That kind of thing. People will eat that crap up all day long. You’ll soon become a hero to all West ham fans. They get 35,000 people at every home game Jack of which only ten percent will be under eighteen, that leaves 28,000 voters. We know from our research that sixty percent of the public are undecided voters so that’s 17000 people that YOU could influence to vote for us at the next election.”

Jack shrugged his shoulders.

“Okay, I’m now a huge West Ham fan.”

“Brilliant. Now your parents are both dead, right Jack?”

“Yes Maurice. Mum died two years ago after a stroke and Dad died six years ago from lung cancer.”

“Wrong! He died of Asbestosis.”

Jack didn’t say anything. He was wondering where the fuck this was going.

“Look Jack, your Dad worked at the local gas works all his life. Those places were full of asbestos. So as far as everyone is concerned from now on he died of Asbestosis. The government has set aside almost 400 million pounds for compensation claims and so far no one has taken credit for that. So from now on we’ll say that you have fought tooth and nail behind the scenes for justice for the victims of asbestosis. I’ll get you a position on the board of the biggest asbestosis charity. Over 3000 people a year die of it jack and they all have families. You’ll suddenly become their champion. That’s another nice few votes for us!”

Jack smiled. Maurice was good. He was beginning to like Maurice.

“Okay Jack, that’s it for now. There’s a security officer outside, he’ll show you the route to your office in Whitehall. This place is a fucking maze and I’m always getting lost, so good luck!”

Jack stood up, shook Maurice by the hand and turned to leave. Just as he got to the door Maurice shouted out.

“And make sure you know every single fucking word of I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles by this time tomorrow!”

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Who Is Jack Winter ( Part 7)

Jack was in bed but wide awake. He hadn’t slept for thirty six hours. He felt a familiar tingling sensation in his hands and feet, like thousands of tiny electric shocks stinging his fingers and toes. He called this the “pins and needles” phase. After this would come the “numbness” phase and after that…well he’d be a complete mess for a couple of hours then pass out.

He liked the “pins and needles” phase. It was like a giant alarm clock going off inside his head telling him to either re-load or call it a day. Basically it was body coming down from the blues and greens. He had about ten minutes to make up his mind. Take more and regain the high or come all the way down and get some rest. The decision was about to be made for him. His mobile rang. He looked at his watch in disbelief. It was ten to five. He didn’t recognise the number, but thought it best to answer.

“Hello. Jack Winter.”

“Jack. Sorry to disturb you so early but the PM would like to have an hour with you today to go over a few details.”

It was Stephen Wilkes, the PM’s private secretary.

“Of course Stephen, what time?”

“Now Jack. I’ll have a car with you in ten minutes. The PM has a busy schedule today so can only fit you in between 5.30 and 6.30.”

Before Jack could say another word Stephen had said goodbye and hung up the phone.

Jack got out of bed and went into auto pilot. Two blues and two green were washed down with a tumbler of whisky. Lines of coke were cut and inhaled. He gargled strong mouth wash but didn’t spit just swallowed. His ice cold shower lasted exactly three minutes. He dried himself then combed his thinning hair. A freshly laundered white shirt was chosen along with a navy blue suit and matching tie. Black socks and black brogues completed the outfit. At two minutes past five he was sitting in the back of a silver Mercedes and on his way to number ten.

Stephen Wilkes met him at the door.

“Good morning Jack. Glad you could make it as such short notice. The PM doesn’t sleep much so I’m afraid you’ll have to get used to these early morning meetings. He’s waiting for you in the gym on the first floor. Please, follow me.”

Jack had been to number ten on a number of occasions but only for social gatherings. The place always reminded him of The Tardis on Doctor who. Outside it looked like a small terraced house yet inside it was like the bloody Playboy mansion.

Stephen led him up the staircase and along a corridor. He stopped outside a large white door and knocked. A voice from inside shouted.

“Come in.”

Stephen opened the door and Jack walked in. He wasn’t prepared for the sight in front of him.

The PM was sitting on the floor in the lotus position. If that wasn’t weird enough, he was also completely stark bollock naked! Jack wasn’t quite sure what to say but heard himself saying…

“Good morning Prime Minister.”

The PM stood up slowly, keeping his back straight as he did so.

“Ahh Jack, good to see you. Didn’t get you up did we?”

Jack was trying hard to concentrate but the sight of a middle aged naked man who was extremely well endowed was somewhat off putting.

“No, no, sir. Not at all. I don’t sleep much to be honest.”

“That’s music to my ears Jack. I only get around four hours a night myself. So I think we’ll make a good team.”

The PM put on a pair of blue and white striped boxer shorts and sat on one of the benches.

“The re-shuffle is tomorrow Jack and you’ll be first up. I’ll see you here at 06.00 and we’ll have half an hour together. Everything should be finished by midday. That’s when I’ll make the official announcement and the press will go crazy. I’m making quite a few changes due to the fact that we’re slightly behind in most of the polls. I’m convinced that the re-shuffle should get us back to where we want to be. The new cabinet will meet back here at five o’clock for formal introductions and a few drinks. All okay with that Jack?”

“Yes Prime Minister. I have a very close friend who works for The Times. I’m going to give him an exclusive interview. You know the sort of thing, Who Is Jack Winter? It’ll be good for the party and good for me. Win Win.”

“Well done Jack, good to get the press on your side early on. Smart move.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Okay on to protocol and perks. Your new titles will be. Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary Of State. You ALWAYS refer to me as Prime Minister. NEVER sir. No matter what situation you’re in. I, in return, will always refer to you as Deputy Prime Minister unless we’re alone, as we are now, then I’ll call you Jack. Your new office will be at Whitehall in the Cabinet office. There are various passageways and corridors that connect Downing Street to Whitehall. So we’re practically in the same building. You can use a flat at Admiralty House during the week if you need to and your country residence will be Dorneywood in Buckinghamshire. So far so good Jack?”

“Yes Prime Minister.”

“You’ll be busier than you’ve ever been in your life Jack. Still think you’re the man for the job?”

“Absolutely Prime Minister. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I’m known as a man that gets things done. I won’t let you down.”

“That’s the reason I chose you Jack. You’re streetwise. I like that. Just one other thing before you go. You’re a Whisky drinker aren’t you?”

Jack was a little surprised by this question but reacted casually.

“Yes Prime Minister. Twelve year old malt is my tipple.”

“Good man Jack. I’m partial to a nice scotch myself. But I only ever take it neat. I NEVER add anything with it. I hear you like it with COKE!”

He emphasised the word coke and Jack knew immediately what he meant.

“Err sometimes Prime Minister but very rarely.”

“Well from now on you’ll take it neat. No more COKE Jack. It’s bad for the system. I trust we understand each other?”

“Completely Prime Minister.”

“Good man. Now off you go and I’ll see you here tomorrow at 06.00 sharp.”

They shook hands and Jack left the room. As he did so he couldn’t help thinking that he might just have underestimated Harold Simpson!

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Who Is Jack Winter ( Part 6)

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Jack Winter was in his London flat cuddling a bottle of twelve year old malt and watching the Ten O’clock news. They were showing footage of The Prime Minister’s return from his surprise visit to Afghanistan. The reporter asked him about the forthcoming cabinet re-shuffle.

“Prime Minister, can you give us any clues about the re-shuffle? Will there be any surprises?”

“This is Politics young man, there are always surprises.”

Jack grinned as he watched the PM give a wink and a confident smile to the reporter. He had to admit it. The man had style.

It was four days since he’d been given the news about his promotion. In that time he had spoken to the PM, or Strider, as some of his cabinet members called him, twice. Both times he stressed to Jack the importance of keeping the information secret until the day of the re-shuffle. Jack gave his word that he wouldn’t tell a soul.

That was complete bollocks of course. In politics. “Giving your word” meant nothing. It was just another way of saying “I’ll be careful and won’t get caught.”

The announcement was just three days away and so far Jack had said nothing. He hadn’t even celebrated. Yes, he’d drunk too much whisky, snorted too much coke and generally whored himself to the point of exhaustion, but he hadn’t REALLY celebrated. He needed to get his timing right and he figured that now was the time. There were brownie points to score and a good deal of money to be made.

He needed to make three phone calls.

He called his old school friend Shaun Roberts at the Daily Mail. The phone rang and was answered quickly.

“Hi Jack, what can I do for you?”

“I’ve got something for you Sean, something pretty big.”

“Well you can’t be talking about your cock Jack cos I’ve seen that a few times and let me tell you it isn’t big and it certainly isn’t pretty!”

They both laughed. Jack continued.

“You still want to write for one of the broadsheets, The Times or The Telegraph?”

“Stop fucking about Jack. You know I do. But they don’t want me. They don’t think I’m a SERIOUS journalist, so I suppose I’m stuck with the tabloid shit. Why?”

“If you went to the Editors of those two papers and told them that you could get an exclusive interview with a VERY senior member of the new cabinet. An interview that every paper would want but only YOU could get and that from now on you would be privy to exclusive inside political information before anyone else, they’d listen right?”

“They would……… So you know someone who’s getting a senior position in the re-shuffle Jack?”

“Let me put it this way Sean, I’m VERY close to this person and YES it’s a very SENIOR position.”

The phone went silent again while Sean took all this in.

“How SENIOR?”

“Number 2!”

“Fuck me Jack are you really saying what I think your saying?”

“I’m saying no more, just go away and get that fucking job. I’m gonna need someone from the serious press to give me good coverage in the next few weeks.”

Jack hung up. One down two to go. He smiled as he dialled the next number. He was going to enjoy this call. The phone was answered by a female voice.

“Shirley Walters.”

“Hello Shirley, it’s Jack. Remember me? I’m your ex-husband.”

“Remember you? How could I ever forget you? You were and probably still are the most evil, loathsome bastard that god ever put on this earth. I had a fucking breakdown because of you and your fucking lies, thought I was going mad at one point. You’re a fucking disgrace of a man Jack Winter. A fucking disgrace.”

Jack tried hard to contain his laughter but didn’t succeed.

“Oh come on Shirley, it wasn’t all bad. Well not for me anyway.”

“You are such a smug bastard Jack. Just tell me why you’re calling and then fuck off.”

Jack stopped laughing and spoke slowly and clearly.

“Okay. In a few days’ time I’ll be getting a promotion. My name is likely to be in a lot of newspapers and journalists will be asking people to comment on me. They’ll ask you about me Shirley and I’m hoping you’ll say nice things.”

Now it was Shirley’s turn to erupt into laughter.

“Are you for fucking real? If anyone asks me about you I’ll tell them the truth Jack. I’ll tell them about the pills and the booze and the coke. I’ll tell them about the whores and the mood swings and the violence. Oh yes Jack I’ll tell them the lot and then let’s see how long your promotion lasts!”

“No you won’t Shirley. Want to know why?”

“Okay wanker. Tell me why.”

“Remember that night at my London flat. Not long after we first met. The night you came over with your mate Cheryl. We all got very drunk and very high. Remember that night Shirley?”

Shirley didn’t answer. Jack could imagine the look on her face.

“Things got a little wild that night didn’t they Shirley. I can remember you and Cheryl getting up to all sorts of mischief. Didn’t we all end up naked?”

“What’s your fucking point Jack?”

“You see Shirley that night just didn’t randomly happen. I made it happen. I always wanted to shag Cheryl and the thought of you and Cheryl together was just too tempting. So I spiked your drinks with a little something and with a little encouragement from me and a bit of porn on the tele you were soon tearing each other’s clothes off. Of course I wanted to save everything and that’s why I set up four cameras in the flat before you came round. Got every sordid minute of it on tape. It’s fabulous viewing Shirley, you’d love it. So if you want to see it along with everyone else, including your new husband, then say what you like to the papers. But if you want me to keep it safe for you then tell the papers what a nice guy I am. Understand?”

Shirley hung up. He thought he heard her say the word “cunt” before she did. But he couldn’t be sure.

He dialled again.

“Hello Patrick?”

“Yes mate.”

“Be discreet but find out what price the bookies will give you on me being the next Deputy Prime Minister. Then call me back. I think it’s time me and you made a shed load of money.”