Minister for Good Ideas & Gin Dr Samantha Martens paced the black marble floor of Number Ten’s grand main entrance hall, desperately trying to remember if they had a press office or not. She also wondered, in between the spurts of panic, whether real governments spent quite so much time in a frenzied hysteria, or if it was just them. But she quickly shook it off, telling herself that they were a real government, most definitely, and they were getting better at it. On the whole. They had quite a lot of meetings, anyway.
A chorus of spite seeped through the walls from the throng of rampant journalists gathered on the street outside. They were held at a safe distance by the Militia and watched inconspicuously by a few carefully placed members of Wing Commander Tom’s team, but even so it was quite unnerving. Dr Martens struggled to make out quite what they were on about, but it was something about some photographs. She wasn’t sure what was in the photos and wondered whether she should ask. This is exactly why they needed a press office. She decided to call the Minister for Culture, Media & Sport – Mick Canning. He had ‘media’ in his title so this was bound to be his department. He answered on the third ring.
“Hello!” Mick was in fine spirits. “I’m arguing about cricket with the Oxford top brass. What are you up to?”
“Mick, there’s a load of people from the press outside,” replied Dr Martens “They’re shouting something about photographs.”
“Oh!” there followed a thoughtful silence. Mick continued “What are the photographs of, do you know?”
“No idea, shall I ask them?”
“Yes, I think you should.”
“Right. Hold on.”
Holding her phone to her chest, Dr Martens bounded to the front door and dropped to her knees to look through the letterbox. There were not quite as many journalists as she had expected, but she still didn’t fancy the idea of getting too close to them. She decided that shouting at them from the door was probably the best course of action, so she opened it up just enough to pop her head out. A fresh roar of derision erupted from the street, only to be met by the barking chorus of the Militia issuing orders to stay back. Dr Martens waited for the din to subside as the baying mob realised that they wouldn’t be able to hear her even if she did answer their questions. She cleared her throat.
“What are the photos of?”
There was a mumbling among the mob and some worrying laughter.
“What are the photos of?!” the repeated request was much more assertive, but drew an even less enthusiastic response. She placed her phone to her ear. “They won’t tell me, Mick.”
“That’s a nuisance,” huffed Mick. “We need to now what those photos are, do you really have no idea at all?”
“Well, I suppose they could concern the peace treaty.” Dr Martens replied. “Or Tony Blair.”
“I have an idea,” announced Mick “Ask them if the photos contain nudity, that way if they say no, then we know it’s Blair. If they say yes, well, some kind of scandal was bound to emerge sooner or later and you know how the public love a good romp. And these things soon blow over.”
“You’re right. I hope it’s that rather than Blair.” Dr Martens took a steadying breath. “Right. I’ll ask them.”
Seeing her place her phone back to her chest, her audience settled once again and all heads turned towards Dr Martens.
“Do the photos contain any nudity?” she yelled at a volume that was quite indecent considering the context.
The unanimous eye-widening suggested to Dr Martens that the nudity was a far more interesting prospect for these seasoned hacks. She was about to report back to Mick when she noticed a woman in a bright red coat and thick glasses saying something to one of the Militia. It looks like she is trying to pass him her phone. Dr Martens watched as the two of them exchanged a few words, before he turned and broke rank to approach the front door. The Militiaman marched towards her, phone proffered before him.
“Minister, these are the photo’s they’re talking about.”
Dr Martens took the phone in her free hand and scrolled left and right in disbelief. A muffled spate of cursing rumbled from her chest and she put her own phone back to her ear to speak to Mick.
“What is it, then?” he snapped “Blair or bonking?”
Mick’s words evaporated into the air as Dr Martens squinted at the screen before her, struggling to believe her own eyes.
“Well.” She said, eventually. “I wasn’t expecting that.”