There was a degree of irony in the fact that the emergency Cabinet meeting called by the Prime Minister was very much like the wake of somebody no one really liked. Half the Cabinet didn’t even know why they were there, as details of Blair’s demise had not been widely advertised among the party guests. This meant that Foreign Secretary Harry Cobeans continued to plough through his repertoire of increasingly unsavoury sea-shanties to a somewhat mixed response. He was halfway through a rousing ditty about a fishmonger’s daughter, when Wing Commander Tom decided that he could stand no more and called the room to order.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” began Tom, once a degree of calm had descended. “Tonight, we face the first real crisis we have seen as a Government.”
“Hang on, we’ve nearly been to war with Oxford,” pointed out Home Secretary Vicky Kirby. “I’d say that was a bit of a crisis.”
“And when we thought Nigel’s suitcase was a bomb,” added Health Minister Haylee DeHavilland.
“Now, now – that wasn’t a proper crisis,” Lucy interrupted. “The Foreign Secretary didn’t come back, remember? If it isn’t serious enough to warrant his return then it doesn’t count as a crisis.”
Harry raised his glass to the Prime Minister, while Boris, King of Oxford and Nigel Farage looked incredibly pleased with themselves. They had no idea they had caused so much trouble.
The debate ended abruptly at the smack of flesh on wood as Wing Commander Tom brought his fist sharply down on the table.
“Well, however many crises we’ve had, we’ve got another one.” Tom paused, checking he had the full attention of the room before continuing into a concise but conservative account of the evening’s events. He gave the stunned assembled Cabinet a moment to digest this unpalatable revelation. It wasn’t going to sit well on home made gin and sausages, that’s for sure.
“What we really need to know now,” said Lucy “Is who’s responsible.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer Ian Risk raised an arm.
“I’m fairly responsible,”
Mumbles towards the affirmative swept around the table.
“No, I mean who’s responsible for the murder,” sighed Lucy. “And also – who is responsible for dealing with the murder.” She turned to her Minister for Unlikely Events, Hugh Roberts.
Hugh was a practical and straightforward sort of a chap, but he really wasn’t happy being Minister of Unlikely Events. The way Hugh saw it, a far more accurate title would be Professional Scapegoat. But since he had taken the role he realised there was something of a loophole in his job description.
“But, Prime Minister, I am responsible for unlikely events,” Hugh stretched his palms wide and offered Lucy his most earnest expression.
“You don’t think this is unlikely?” she replied, narrowing just one eye.
“Oh, no” Hugh exclaimed. “I mean, you leave Tony Blair in one place long enough, someone is bound to shoot him, aren’t they? Far from being an unlikely event, I would say that this was the most likely thing that was ever likely to happen!”
The ragged scrap that remained of Wing Commander Tom’s patience hung by a thread.
“Will you all just be quiet?” Tom was almost pleading. “I have everything in hand. My chaps have the entire building in lockdown. The body has been removed to the basement for further examination and I intend to personally question everyone as to their movements this evening…”
“Hang on a minute there, old bean,” King Boris interrupted. “I hope you aren’t thinking of including our bods in all of this jiggery-pokery, you know, because that could be very bad for diplomatic relations!”
“That’s right!” agreed Nigel, nodding furiously. “You can’t be suggesting that we had anything to do with this. It’s a bloody cheek, is what it is.”
“Well, you would say that,” snapped Tom.
“Look, look -“ Lucy cut in, keen to avoid any further murders that evening. “Look. It’s very late. Too late to be questioning anybody. Now, there’s still plenty of crisps left and I was just about to set up the karaoke machine. This is supposed to be an Epic State Occasion, after all. It’s what Tony would have wanted. Let’s make the most of it and reconvene here first thing tomorrow and get properly on with things. Actually, not first thing. Let’s aim for closer to noon.”