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.
“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!”