He’d managed three hours sleep. That was enough for Jack. It was just after five o’clock in the morning and he was watching the Jeremy Kyle show. A woman was screaming and shouting at her husband. She accused him of having affairs with two other woman. Jack thought that was quite normal until it became clear that the two woman were his mum and his sister. The husband wasn’t denying it but said it was a long time ago and that he’d never bedded them at the same time, as though that somehow made everything okay. They both looked as though they should be playing the banjo somewhere in Alabama. But actually they were from Basildon in Essex.
Jack shook his head. Wow, he thought his life was fucked up but watching this programme made him feel quite normal. He popped a couple of blues and greens and washed them down with a large glass of claret.
The flat at Admiralty House was plush and modern, not at all how Jack had imagined it. Lots of steel, glass, marble, laminate floors and white leather sofas. There was only one problem. No fucking Scotch. Loads of wine, white, red, pink, gallons of the stuff, but no Scotch. That was something he would have to rectify. He’d get Roger on the case straightaway. Can’t have a luxury pad in Whitehall without the finest Malt.
He thought back to the previous evening. He’d returned to the reception and taken over as the dutiful host. He spoke to everyone individually. The story was simple, the PM had been called away for an urgent conversation with the US President. It was a matter of national security so he couldn’t give any details. Naturally they all nodded as if they knew what was going on, especially Charles Winthorpe, but obviously none of them had a clue. As the evening wore on, Jack could hear the whispers. They’d convinced themselves that it was to do with some secret military operation in the gulf. The PM’s curious behaviour had been forgotten. Job done!
At five thirty exactly there was a knock on the door. Jack smiled, he’d been told that the service at Admiralty House would be precise and it wasn’t wrong. He opened the door and saw a man in a blue and red uniform standing in front of him.
“Good morning sir, here are the papers you asked for.”
Jack took them and said thank you. He closed the door and walked into the kitchen.
They were all there, from the broadsheets to the tabloids, there was even a copy of The Racing Post. He poured himself another glass of claret and found the paper he was looking for. The headline on the front page of The Times read “Who Is Jack Winter?”
He began to read, the smile on his face getting bigger and bigger as he read through the article. Sean had done a brilliant job. He didn’t recognise himself. Apparently he was a man of the people, a man of principle, character, honesty and integrity. From a working class background he’d fought his way to University. He’d sacrificed everything, including two marriages, for a life in Politics where he was determined to change things for the good. Both ex-wives said what a wonderful man he was and how much he deserved to be playing a major part in this country’s future. Behind the scenes he’d campaigned tirelessly for victims of asbestosis because his father had died from the condition some years ago. His hard work had resulted in the Government setting aside £400 million for compensation claims. His hero was Bobby Moore and he was a lifelong supporter of West Ham United. Sean’s article had made him look like a cross between Ray Winstone and Mother Theresa!
The other papers had followed suit. None of them really knew much about him and had stolen bits of Sean’s article for their own columns.
Jack opened another bottle of claret and poured himself a large glass. He walked into the lounge and sat down in front of the TV. The Kyle show had descended into farce, women were pulling each other’s hair and a big bald headed man was trying to separate them. He switched the channel over to BBC. He was taken back to see an old photograph of him on the screen. The presenter was talking about him, most of which had come from Sean’s article. He was talking about Jack’s time at Essex University where he gained a degree in American Politics, his time on Havering Council and then his meteoric rise to Deputy Prime Minister.
All of this was making Jack ask the same question over and over again in his head “Who the fuck was he REALLY?”
He’d only ever had one aim in life and that was simple. Earn as much money as he could, shag as many women as he could and enjoy as much of the finer things in life as possible. Politics seemed like an easy way to do it. But nothing was ever planned. He’d just sort of fell into things. He was streetwise and cunning, but ambitious? Not really. Every promotion meant more money and the higher up the scale you went the bigger the earning potential. If at some stage he got caught with his trousers down or with his hands in the till, it didn’t matter as long as he’d set aside enough money to be financially secure for the rest of his days. Besides, most large multi nationals didn’t give a flying fuck about how you’d left government as long as you were there in the first place. There would always be a Directorship or an advisory role on offer along with a fabulous salary.
The biggest example of this philosophy was Tony Blair. He left Government being extremely unpopular yet went straight onto the boards of JP Morgan and Zurich Financial as their “Special advisor”. The bloody United Nations also wanted him as their International Envoy. These three jobs alone would bring him in millions every year and that’s without the personal appearance money he’d earn from his speaking engagements. The man now has a bigger yearly turnover than most small countries!
That’s what he wanted. How he got it didn’t matter. But now, as Deputy Prime Minister. The odds were looking good.
His phone rung.
“Jack, it’s Maurice. Can you come to the meeting early? About seven?” I need to talk with you in private.”
Jack was slightly worried. Maybe the PM had told Maurice about the blue and greens and his tenure as DPM was about to be cut short. He composed himself.
“Of course Maurice. How’s the PM?”
“That’s what we need to talk about Jack. He can’t remember a fucking thing about yesterday. The whole day is a blank to him from start to finish, and there’s another thing. We’ve had his blood tests back. There’s some things in his blood stream that just shouldn’t be there Jack. I think it confirms what I’ve been worried about for some time.”
“I’ll be right there Maurice.”
He put the phone down and breathed a sigh of relief. Once again it was time to get into character. Jack Winter to the rescue!