Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Bryggs' Christmas Wish was not granted. And now things are looking difficult....

“Everything alright, dear?” asks Annie as we drive away from the airport. Annie is my driver.

“Fine,” I say, “What’s been happening while I’ve been away? Any scandal?”

“No, dear. No scandal. I have to take you straight to the Prime Minister, though.”

“Oh,” I say, “Right.” I notice Annie is looking at me in the rear mirror.

“D’ye know a person called Gareth Leake?” she asks. The name rings a small bell but for a moment I can’t quite place it. Then I remember. He’s the P.M’s nephew. A nasty little toad as I recall. Attached to the P.M’s central office with no particular job.

“I think I do,” I answer, “Why do you ask?”

We are pulling in to Downing Street and going through the security gates.

“Och, well,” she says, “Have a nice day.” What was that about, I wonder. The good Annie was trying to tell me something, but discreetly. Everybody needs to hang on to their jobs in this “flexible workplace” age.

I show my pass to the policemen and enter the portals of Number Ten. I haven’t done this many times but when I do I always think of the days when Britain administered its Empire with remarkable statesmen, entrepreneurs who cared nothing for discomfort, the Thin Red Line holding back the borders and the Royal Navy keeping the supply lines open. All settling the problems of the world with an extraordinary confidence. It brings a lump to my throat every time. I wonder what they would think of Jason Bryggs helping to sell off the family silver and pull in a nice bonus for doing so. I push the thought aside because standing in front of me is the awful Gareth Leake looking, as he always does, very pleased with himself.

“Ah, Bryggs,” he says, in the usual way of his class.

“Gareth,” I say, “Keeping busy?”

“Indeed I am,” he says, “Come this way.” I follow his busy little frame and bouffant hair style down the corridor and we enter one of the ante rooms.

“Wait here.” he says. I sit in an uncomfortable reproduction antique from Indonesia and pick up the newspaper. The only news of interest is the arrest by the Serious Fraud Office of yet another senior executive from a large business firm and the State Visit of the Secretary General of oil-rich Askhabania who will be staying at Balmoral as he likes to shoot. I’ll bet he does, although the quarry may be different in this case. About half an hour passes and Leake re-appears.

“The Prime Minister will see you now,” he says and we march off down the corridor again.

“Ah, Bryggs,” says the P.M. Nick is there too and gives me a nod. I notice that Leake has perched himself on the edge of a chair and is obviously not leaving.