Minister for Good Ideas & Gin Dr Samantha Martens was not, as a rule, a nervous person. But right now, Wing Commander Tom was making her nervous. She couldn’t quite fathom how a man who kept his face covered with his hat was able to convey quite such a threatening demeanour. But then, the events – not to mention the gin – from last night were sitting heavily in her mind. She wasn’t quite her usual chipper self. Dr Martens gripped the arms of her chair and wished she was anywhere but the Cabinet office as Tom came and sat on the table, right by her.
“So you see that’s my really menacing look – well, it’s not really a look, is it, but you know what I mean – it’s the very look I shall be using during my interrogations this afternoon,” Tom was very pleased with himself, it seemed. “It never fails.”
“I imagine not!” Dr Martens spluttered, looking around for her tea and the ubiquitous plate of biscuits that resembled a kind of cornucopia for baked goods. As she reached for her tea, the great doors of the Cabinet office were ripped asunder by a lively King Boris and Nigel Farage singing a rude song about rowing, charging towards the biscuits. The ensuing shock of Dr Martens and Tom sent tea and biscuits flying across the table and, in the case of some unfortunate custard creams, all over the carpet.
“Buggeration!” exclaimed King Boris
“Never mind about that,” Prime Minister Lucy Wastell swept in behind him and pushed him out of her way. She spied a custard cream near her foot. She bobbed down, scooping it up. “Two second rule!”
As the slightly fluffy biscuit was devoured, Minister for Unlikely Events Hugh Roberts wandered in, closely followed by Sir Edd and Home Secretary Vicky Kirby. The rest of the Cabinet were moments away, but King Boris noticed that someone was missing.
“I say, have any of you chaps seen my man Snetterton?” he asked, brow so deeply furrowed that his crown tipped perilously forward. Sir Edd glided to his side, smiling.
“He is buttling, your Highness,” he replied, adopting a most disarming tone.
“What do you mean, he’s buttling?” yelped King Boris. “He is my butler, I tell you, he buttles for me!”
“He is a butler, your Highness,” Sir Edd continued. “Butlers buttle. It is simply what they do. One cannot hope to stop them.”
“You two!” Lucy thrust a finger in the direction of Boris and Sir Edd. “Stop talking nonsense. We’ve got a lot to be getting on with. Now – everyone settle down and listen to Wing Commander Tom. He seems to know what he’s doing.”
Lucy took her usual central seat at the head of the table. She found a blank piece of paper among the various documents before her and, borrowing a pen from Sir Edd, wrote the date across the top. Tom stood and once again addressed the Cabinet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have quite the predicament before us, but you can rest assured that the Cambridge Intelligence Agency have everything very much in hand. Preliminary intelligence gathering operations have been implemented and security is tighter than a gnat’s chuff. There really is nothing to be concerned about at this stage…”
Tom was interrupted mid-flow by the late arrival of Trade Minister Simon Daley and Chancellor Ian Risk. They scuttled in apologetically and took their seats with some contrition. Ian sat next to Lucy and she noticed that little pools of water were gathering at his feet. The collar of his shirt was also damp. Tom continued.
“As I was saying. Everything is in hand. By the close of play today I shall have the initiatory statements from my team, which will tell me who I need to speak to about what. The medics in the basement have almost completed their report, so I shall be examining that also. In the meantime, I shall be interr- er – interviewing those persons present at the scene last night. And, of course, Prime Minister, I will require a private briefing with your good self at your earliest convenience.”
“I shall make myself convenient to you at the very earliest,” Lucy replied.
“Excellent. I will also need to speak to the Home Secretary about some practical matters.” Tom took a breath, bathing for a moment in the admiring gratitude of the assembled Cabinet. Not so much Nigel and Boris, is has to be said. “For now, the media blackout remains in place and incarceration of all present will continue until further notice. I suggest you all think very carefully about everything you saw and heard last night. The tiniest detail could very well be the most important.”
Most of the Cabinet couldn’t even remember anything from the night before, let alone think carefully about it. But all in all, sitting around having a think was fine by them, especially if the thinking could be done whilst eating and drinking, or possibly with eyes closed. Boris and Nigel were the last to leave, exchanging worried glances as they watched Wing Commander Tom and the Prime Minister make their way towards her private office.
And where the bloody hell was Snetterton?