The Prime Minister had never really mastered the art of ‘nonchalant’. Even before she became Prime Minister, Lucy always possessed a self-evident air of overt obviousness. She was by and large quite boisterous, but even when she was being very quiet, you knew she was there. This was quite at odds with almost everyone else at Number Ten, who wafted about the place practically imperceptibly. Lucy didn’t like it. You had no idea you had company until it was too late.
The journey to the Botanical Gardens certainly had an air of nonchalance about it, although this was due in no small part to the presence of Wing Commander Tom, who was rather adept at such things. Which was just as well, because the last thing they needed right now was scrutiny. The gardens themselves were a dendritic delight, spanning around forty acres of flourishing landscape laying between Trumpington Road to the west and Hills Road to the east. For centuries they had led the world in fusing horticulture and science, serving both the University and the great general public. The legendary glass houses – huge, towering beasts of great beauty – had been home to over three thousand different species of flora and fauna, but now seemed to have been converted for a slightly different purpose.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Ian Risk awkwardly examined his toes whilst Minister for Good Ideas & Gin Dr Samantha Martens and the Prime Minister stood tapping their chins, unsure whether to be impressed or furious. Here in the principle glass house, the air was thick with a cloying, sweet aroma and all around was the faint buzz of artificial lighting and the gentle hum of a sophisticated and extensive hydroponics system at work.
“Now – tell me once again why the Botanical Gardens have been converted into a gigantic cannabis factory?”
The Prime Minister swung on her heels and wheeled round to face the Chancellor. It was a simple question to answer, but that was really the problem. Even Lucy could grasp simple things; it was far better when her questions required complicated answers that she didn’t understand.
“Well, Prime Minister, the short answer is that this – “ Ian gestured to the forest of cannabis plants surrounding them. “This is basically the bedrock of our economy.”
Lucy was uncharacteristically quiet, but her eyes were like saucers in her little red face. Dr Martens was worried for a moment that there might be a small amount of violence.
“Right” Lucy replied. “Just out of interest, does the long answer sound any better than the short answer?”
“No, it’s much worse.”
“Right.” Lucy placed her hands on her hips and huffed ineffectually. “Right. I thought our economy was underpinned by the export of our Cambridge Special Damson Gin?”
“It’s the gin and cannabis,” said Ian. “But probably mostly cannabis.”
“Who are we even selling it to?” asked Dr Martens.
“You’d need to speak to Simon to get the specifics,” replied Ian, referring to Trade Minister Simon Daley – the architect of this great plan to become a drug dealing government. “But pretty much everybody, actually. It is quite literally the best weed in the world. But then I would expect nothing less from Cambridge botanists.”
“How do we even know that it’s the best weed in the world?” Dr Martens sounded a bit angry, but was secretly impressed.
Ian shrugged his shoulders but before he could elaborate further, Wing Commander Tom appeared from the towering throng of psychotropic shrubbery.
“The perimeters are secure, Prime Minister, but I’m afraid there’s some bad news,” Tom brushed a swathe of stray foliage from his otherwise immaculate suit. “The press are hovering about with their long lenses. They know something is afoot.”
“Would you like me to shoot them, Prime Minister?”
“Well I would like that very much, Tom,” said Lucy “But probably best you don’t. I’ve got a plan, actually, if the press really are that insistent on speaking to me well, then, I shall hold a press conference. But not here, surrounded by millions of pounds worth of drugs. We need to get back to Number Ten.”
“Prime Minister, the press will be on us the second we set foot outside the grounds,” replied Tom. “I really am going to have to shoot them.”
“No, you’re not, Tom,” Lucy grinned and wagged a finger. “I’ve just thought of another plan. It involves disguises. Follow me.”