Dr Samantha Martens, Minister for Good Ideas & Gin, was having a good idea. The good idea was to drink gin. This was a good idea for several reasons. Reason one – the first batch of Cambridge Special Damson Gin, lovingly produced by the fair hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was about to be shipped to an off-licence in Northampton. It seemed only right and proper that this auspicious occasion be toasted. Reason two – the Prime Minister was somewhat jumpy about the interestingly-named Epic State Occasion that was occurring that very evening. Boris, King of Oxford was bringing a consignment of top Oxford bods to thrash out a peace treaty, thereby forgoing the war and hopefully finally resolving the Kitchen Situation. Which brings us neatly to: Reason three – Tony Blair was still tied to a chair in the kitchen and was, quite frankly, becoming something of a nuisance.
Terry, the elderly feline resident of Number Ten and also the Deputy Prime Minister, had taken an instant dislike to the former Prime Minister, making life very difficult for poor Mumsie, who had to share the kitchen with them.
There was a forth reason, too – although neither the Prime Minister nor Dr Martens had any inkling to it as yet. If they had, it would have been doubles all round. It was indeed felicitous that blessed ignorance abounded as to Boris’ idea of ‘thrashing out a peace treaty’. Worse, Nigel Farage was going to help.
Then there was the curious project at the Botanical Gardens. But the less said about that, the better. Certainly from the point of view of the Trade Minister.
“What time are the Oxford chaps getting here, Prime Minister?” asked Dr Martens, one eye already a little wonky.
“Eight o’clock,” replied Lucy. “I thought we’d set up a welcoming committee in that nice big room downstairs, you know? The one with the old CD player. I thought we’d put some tunes on, all have a few drinks. Just a normal party, really. We’ll lull them into false sense of security, you see. Boris and his buddies will think we are simple, hapless commoners and drop their guard. I’ll slip him some of the hard stuff, then take him to my office for the negotiations. BAM! He will be flummoxed by my political genius and gin, and will sign my carefully-crafted agreement that I have right here…”
Lucy stumbled slightly as she reached in her back pocket for the document, giggling. Regaining her composure barely, she unfolded it with a flourish.
“Bugger. This gin is good. I’ve forgotten how to read.”
Dr Martens turned her non-wonky eye towards the document.
“I can’t even see,” she replied.
“This is no good,” huffed Lucy. “We can’t conduct diplomatic relations in this state. I suggest we have a bit of a lie down before they get here.”
“As the Minister for Good Ideas & Gin,” Sam drawled with much effort “I can confirm that that is a very, very good idea.”
Elsewhere, the prognosis for the forthcoming function was not quite so rosy. Sir Edd Evans-Morley and Chancellor Ian Risk were musing upon projected outcomes for the negotiations.
“The thing is, Sir Edd, can we trust them?” Ian leaned back in his chair and folded his arms, eyebrows raised.
“And by ‘them’ do you mean the PM and the Martens woman or our friends from The Other Place?”
“Hilarious. No, I mean do you think the Oxford lot might… I don’t know… try something?”
Sir Edd rolled his eyes.
“Well, no doubt there will be some ulterior motive, of course,” Sir Edd began to pace. “But the important thing is to make sure they do not sign that peace treaty. We need the war with Oxford to prevent Lucy implementing her ludicrous economic reforms.”
“Ludicrously plausible, you mean,” said Ian, at once sat straight in his seat. “I’ve been reading a bit about it, there’s definitely something…”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, man!” Sir Edd roared with uncharacteristic ferocity. He usually preferred a charming menace. “Listen. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t just jump into bed with the first King that comes along. The most prominent of these being, naturally, that the King is Boris!”
Ian wasn’t prepared to argue any longer. Whilst he had every faith in the Prime Minister, he didn’t trust Oxford in the slightest and quietly thought that this was all a bit sudden.
“Okay. What do you suggest?”
“Well, it’s quite simple. We have to make ourselves as unappealing to the kingdom as possible,” Sir Edd’s face cracked into a mirthless smile. “We shall upset their dignitaries, mock their educational establishment and ensure that they know exactly what we think of their rowing team. Before you know it…” Sir Edd’s eyes misted over, just briefly. “We shall fight them in the cloisters, we shall fight them on the punts…”
“You want to be careful, Sir Edd,” Ian warned, only half teasing. “You’ll find yourself strapped to a chair in the kitchen if you carry on like that. Speaking of which, what do we do about Blair?”
“They can’t get their hands on Blair, not at any cost.” Sir Edd bowed his head briefly. “Do you think they know he is being held in the kitchen?”
“Obviously Nigel Farage knows he’s there. He saw him.” Ian scratched his chin.
“Hm. Then we must fear the worst. Although they have always maintained an air of discrete hostility, I’ve often had my doubts…”
“Alright. Well, the Home Secretary’s husband Steve will be doing the barbecue in the garden, so he’ll be right there if anything kicks off.”
“And Mumsie has her broom, of course.”
The two men fell silent in ponderment.
“It’ll probably be fine,” Ian eventually surmised.
The air in the room shifted just slightly. Before Sir Edd and Ian could notice that, though, he was already stood right beside them.
“Gentlemen, your plan is stupid and will never work.”
Wing Commander Tom had arrived.