Roger finished brushing imaginary dust from Jack’s shoulders then took a step back and gave his master a nod of approval.
“Very smart sir. Very smart indeed. Very much a Deputy prime Minister.”
“Thank you Roger. We best be off then. I’ll let you lead the way.”
The two of them strolled through the maze of corridors that led to the back entrance of ten Downing Street, Jack felt good, confident, alive. During the day he’d consumed enough drugs to tranquilise a full grown elephant and drunk enough Scotch to make even Oliver Reed fall over. A normal day for Jack Winter.
Roger left him at the entrance to the main reception and headed off to his own little function with the other PA’s. Jack was met by Maurice Wells, the Press Secretary.
“Welcome Jack. You’re a bit early, which is a good thing. The PM is still getting ready. Probably doing some kind of fucking yoga or Pilates shit. So I guess you’ll have to step up to the plate and be the host till he gets here. Most of the newbies are here as well as some of the old codgers. Have fun.”
“Thank you Maurice. I’ll do my best.”
Jack walked into the room and immediately felt every eye turn to look at him. He was a newbie but he had the upper hand. He was a very important and the highest ranking newbie. It was time to get into character, time to become Jack Winter the Deputy Prime Minister.
The first to approach him was Charles Winthorpe, still the Foreign Secretary and up until a week ago his old boss.
“Jack, Jack, so good to see you and many congratulations on your new appointment. I think my little chat with the PM may have gone some way in helping you get the promotion.”
He gave a wink as he said the words. Jack hated his guts and wanted to make sure he knew who was boss from now on. He leaned over and whispered in his ear.
“Well Charlie, old son, we both know the real reason why you recommended me don’t we. Now make yourself useful, fuck off and get me a large glass of scotch.”
Jack turned and walked away leaving a stunned Charles Winthorpe desperately looking for a waiter.
Someone shook his hand. It was a short stocky man in his late thirties with ginger hair and glasses. Jack thought he looked like one of The Proclaimers.
“Hello Jack. It’s been a while. We met at last year’s party conference. It’s John, John Shaw. I’m the new Environmental Secretary.”
Jack put on his best authorative voice.
“Of course I remember you John. Congratulations. Welcome to the team.”
“And Jack, it turns out we have something in common.”
“Oh yes John. What’s that?”
“West Ham United! I’ve been a season ticket holder for over twenty years. Where do you sit?”
“Fuck” was all Jack could think. He quickly remembered what Maurice had told him to say.
“Bobby Moore. Now what a player he was. If we could only get more players like him we’d be top of the league.”
“You’re in the Bobby Moore stand? I take my hat off to you Jack. That’s where all the real hard core supporters are.”
“Yep, stood there since I was a kid along with my old dad.”
“Yes, of course, they STAND in that part of the stadium don’t they? Refuse to take their seats. As I say, really hard core.”
Jack was relieved, yet at the same time thought he might be getting out of his depth. He decided it was time to move on.
“Sorry John, have to mingle.”
They shook hands and Jack felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Charles Winthorpe holding a very large glass of whisky. He looked like a Labrador that had just fetched for his master. Jack took it without saying a word, then walked off to greet two familiar faces.
Michael Smith was the Chancellor and thought to be close to the PM. They were at Eton together. Jack had met him a few times but they’d never said more than a few words to each other. Standing next to him was George Carson the Home Secretary another Etonian and a real snob. Jack knew these two would be the enemy. They both thought they would be the PM’s successor and wouldn’t take too kindly to the new kid on the block. Especially someone like Jack Winter. He’d have to be wary of these two.
They both smiled as Jack approached them. He could see it was very much a forced smile. Michael Smith put out his hand for Jack to shake. It was exactly what Jack expected. Limp and clammy.
“Hello Jack. Great to see you and many congratulations. I’ve been hearing really good things about you. Do you know George?”
George Carson just continued to smile. But didn’t say a word. You could smell the contempt in the air.
Jack smiled back. He decided to throw them a line to make them feel uncomfortable.
“Hi Michael. No I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of George’s company. Hope the two of you are well. I was only saying to the PM this morning that I thought he made the right decision not to replace you two in the cabinet re-shuffle. He wasn’t so sure, but I think I’ve convinced him otherwise. And, I’ve promised him that I’ll help you boys in any way that I can because I know you’re both struggling on certain policies. So don’t forget my door is always open if you need anything from me. But, enough shop talk, we’re supposed to be here for drinks, so I’m off to get a refill. Bye.”
Jack walked off leaving the two old Etonians open mouthed. Fuck them, now they had a real reason to dislike him.
He spotted Harriet at the end of the room holding a glass of champagne. She was wearing a black skirt and black jacket. She looked stunning. He was trying to work out whether she was wearing tights or stocking but his thoughts were interrupted by a loud voice. He turned round to see the PM standing at the door. He was wearing jeans a polo shirt and trainers. No socks.
“Could I have everyone’s attention pwease. I’d like to welcome each and every one of you to the new look cabinet. I am sure that together we will make a formibable team. Tonight is all about getting to know each other over a few drinks. Tomorrow the hard work sshtarts. Our first cabinet meeting is here at 08.00am. I will come and meet each of you indiwidually during the evening. Now, enjoy yourselves.”
Jack noticed the slurred words and thought the PM sounded a bit pissed. Yet no one else seemed to pick up on it. The PM was now looking straight at him and making his way over. He had a strange look on his face. A look that Jack recognised.
“Jack Winter you are a life saver!”
“Thank you Prime Minister but can I ask why?”
“Well it’s a funny thing Jack but I was doing some stretching exercises in my office and I think I must have overdone it. My back made a funny cwacking noise and suddenly I was in all sorts of agony. Lucky my door was open and your PA walked by. He could see I was in distress and I told him why. He said he had just the thing. He went away and came back in a few minutes with some of your pills. They worked straightaway Jack. I feel absolutely marvellous!”
Jack was trying not to panic. But sweat was beginning to trickle down his forehead. He composed himself and spoke very slowly.
“That’s great news Prime Minister. How many did you take?”
Jack swallowed hard. Fuck… In a few minutes time the poor bastard would probably start break dancing!