Implausible Story No18

 

Cabinet Meeting, end of January 2004

Hello comrades, sorry I'm a little late today. I've been talking to the PM but he kept me hanging around for ages before he disappeared off down that secret tunnel in the basement to you know where.

Deputy PM?

Yes Eustace, what is it?

What secret tunnel Deputy PM? I've never heard of such a thing. It sounds really exciting.

Sorry Eustace, unless you read the article in the Daily Express about "Pindar" my lips are sealed.

What's pindar Deputy PM?

Shush Eustace, not so loud you never know who might overhear you. My lips are sealed except to say it wasn't anything to do with the PM. It was ordered by one of the previous residents.

Who was that Deputy PM?

Look Eustace you can't inveigle me into telling you all about something that's supposed to be utterly top secret. Suffice to say the instigator carried a handbag and it took so long to get sorted out that she didn't get to play with it.

But, Deputy PM…

No buts Eustace, has the coffee arrived yet?

Well I did ring them up about it when we first arrived, and we thought you weren't coming this morning, Deputy PM.
I was told that the Department you organised to make it have gone on strike over more pay.

What! I don't believe we've had a single cup of coffee from them yet and now they've gone on strike!

The chap on the other end of the phone said that as they worked directly for you Deputy PM they should be re-graded and earn loads of money. He suggested double pay, at least he didn't put it that way. He said he'd asked for a judicial review of their responsibilities, being so closely associated with the welfare of such important people, and he expected to get a 100% rise.

Why are you tearing at your hair Deputy PM?

Door bursts open and the PM comes in at the double. "Quick Deputy PM pour me a cup of coffee".

I'll just nip upstairs PM and get your good lady to put the kettle on.

What's that Deputy PM… where's your famous brew?

Slight delay today PM, I'll get Cherie to do the honours.

Oh leave it will you Deputy PM I'd rather not bother her. What's that funny smell?
Has someone been indulging in the old duty free again?

I don't know PM I must say I noticed something when I arrived this morning. I was a bit late arriving and some of the lads were already here.

By Jove deputy PM, I recall that smell from my college days….
What's going on over there you lot?

Chorus from the back of the cabinet room… "It's OK PM it's legal now"

What… you nincompoops! It's certainly not legal. We just spent a couple of million pounds telling everyone that stuff is now a Category C drug. That does not mean it's legal. Now for goodness sake please extinguish that stuff and sit round the table. I'll pretend I didn't see what you were up to.
By the way who are you lot over there? You're not usually at my special meetings.
What's going on Deputy PM?

Don't you remember PM, last week when we were talking to the anti top-up fee rebels and you promised them all they could get really involved with decision making if they voted for you.

I certainly didn't mean you riff raff could enter my hallowed door and step foot in Number 10! Good heavens.. What's the world coming to?
I meant you could dream up a committee or something and have a nice chat between yourselves. You rotters certainly can't expect to be forgiven that easily. Now be off with you…

Group of sheepish looking backbenchers leave the room muttering between themselves….

Now Deputy PM what's on the agenda today?

You said you wanted to complain to that old judge chappie about him saying you "subconsciously" put that 45-minute bit into your special dossier PM.

Quite right Deputy PM. I recall we had no less than 13 meetings about that silly dossier I prepared for Mr.Bush and that 45-minute statement I certainly didn't put in subconsciously. Why, if I recall correctly we spent hours debating that point before I managed to get my own way and those MI6 wallies finally gave in.
They kept telling me it related to battlefield weapons like hand grenades and mortars and I said if someone threw one really hard could it reach Cyprus?
That know-all chap with all the medals said it was impossible to chuck a hand grenade from Iraq to Cyprus.
I asked him if anyone had ever actually tried and he got all flustered and said he wasn't sure so I said in that case there's no proof one couldn't reach Cyprus, given a good following wind and a really big soldier.
When he said there was no actual scientific proof of that specific thing we agreed it could go in the dossier.
I can't quite remember why we said 45 minutes. Oh yes. Wasn't it something to do with how long it took one of our lads to urgently requisition a hand grenade from stores? Yes, that was it. We thought it would be something like a few days at best but knowing how uncaring Saddam's lot were about the niceties of red tape and sticking to the rules we thought they might be able to get one in half an hour or so… hence 45 minutes.


No PM.

What do you mean "No", deputy PM?

I think we ought to just let that comment about it "being a subconscious reason" to stand. I wouldn't want anyone to get too familiar with your reasoning. It may just possibly give the wrong impression in some quarters.

Oh all right Deputy PM. I'll go along with what you say this time.
Anything else to talk about?

We've just had a letter delivered from MoD. It was sent a long time ago but it's clearly been held up as it was sent by internal mail and must have got into the wrong in-tray somewhere. It's addressed to, "The PM", "Very Very Urgent". Someone's scribbled "Try No.10" on the back of the envelope and it arrived this morning.

What does it say Deputy PM?

Well it concerns that enormous report we got from Mr.Hussein last year, I think it must have been.
You remember PM. It arrived at MoD in a lorry. It contained a complete record of what happened to all the munitions identified by the US as being not entirely very nice, and which they asked Mr.Hussein to kindly get rid of.

That's the document that Mr.Bush said didn't include loads and loads of things that Saddam must therefore have hidden away.

Yes PM, that's the one.
Well our chaps were very understanding it seems. They reckoned that if their own scribes had produced such a report it would have included lots of typos and errors so they looked at it again and they found some interesting things.

Go on Deputy PM.
It seems that in Iraq they don't write in English - they use a funny sort of backwards writing, all joined up, and with different symbols from ours for numbers.
They discovered that one particular typist, when translating from Iraq writing to English writing mixed up some of the numbers. In particular an Iraqi "4" looks like an English "3" and an Iraqi "5" looks like an English "0" and there are some others as well but looking at just those it seems the numbers of weapons works out exactly right.

What Deputy PM? They don't actually have any WMD's and we went to war over a few typing errors?

It does seem so PM. Not entirely though PM. There was your 45-minute hand grenade weapon of mass destruction chucked very hard towards Cyprus… with a following wind…

I see what you mean Deputy PM. I think we'd better change the subject and keep telling people we want to draw a line under everything and move on.
Don't you agree Deputy PM… and by the way just where is that coffee of yours?

It's a long story PM. Wouldn't you rather pop next door through your secret tunnel and see what people are secretly ha! ha! saying about you? You know… e-mails and things using phrases with words like "Blair" and "resignation" intercepted from our loyal party members?
Shush PM someone may overhear you. Walls have ears you know.

 

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