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.
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!