London, March 2019:
“Trust me David, Michael, trust me. This will work.”
The two Secretaries of State looked at the Prime Minister doubtfully as he fastened his blue safety helmet, and examined his appearance in the mirror.
“Are you sure Boris?” Michael asked, “I mean, today of all days?”
“Today is EXACTLY the day!” The PM slapped him slightly too hard on the shoulder. “The final papers have been signed, the EU separation is official. What better way to kick off Free GB than the Commander in Chief zip sliding across the Thames from the top of Big Ben on to the deck of the Royal Yacht Britannia, to a chorus of Land of Hope and Glory?”
David coughed delicately:
“Ahem… commander in … what?”
“Just a little nickname I’m trying out. Donald suggested it.”
“Maybe a bit much at this stage?”
“You think?” Boris shrugged “Well, to recap: once I’ve landed on deck, the red white and blue firework display will begin, and all around the country we’ll have a string of Free GB street parties, all serving Cornish pasties, fish and chips and Eccles cakes for the masses. Panem et circenses, chaps.”
“God, it’s been weeks since I had a croissant” said Michael “Any idea when that lorry queue at Calais is going to get moving?”
David was still fretting about the zip wire:
“I’m afraid it’s in rather poor taste. With the unemployment figures and the port closures, it’s not good timing.”
“It’s ideal timing” Michael reassured them both “We need a bit of light relief. There’s going to be a perfect storm next week when the Americans announce they’re introducing GP charges, and Amnesty get wind of us deporting all the Polish plumbers.”
The PM snarled at him: “How many times have I told you not to mention THAT? The bloody Guardian will have a field day if that gets out. Anyway, I’ve got a zip wire to catch.”
The moment had come. Boris looked down from the zip slide gantry at the top of the bell tower. Below, the orchestra was warming up, and the crowd lining the Embankment were waving their flags dutifully. It was a scene to make his heart swell with pride. Admittedly it would have been ideal if some of them were actually British. What with so many companies cutting holiday pay now that the social chapter was gone, not many people could get the day off work. Lucky he’d had the foresight to keep enough migrants on zero hour contracts to fill in on occasions like this.
“All ready to go, Sir?” asked the zip slide co-ordinator who had helped him into his safety harness. The chap’s face was half obscured by his own safety helmet, but he looked vaguely familiar from a few years ago.
“Yes, all ready for take off. I say this harness looks first rate. British engineering, eh? Even got the Union Jack on it, splendid!”
“Certainly has Sir. And what’s more, now that British businesses have been freed up from all that bureaucracy, we haven’t had to waste time on red tape and box ticking and all that ‘elf and safety rubbish!”
The voice was familiar too. Boris still couldn’t place him, but chuckled along.
“Now look here, don’t go telling me just before I leap off that we don’t know whether this thing’s actually safe.”
“Safe?” the man took off his own helmet, and Boris gasped as he recognised Nigel. “My dear Boris, it’s made from the elastic bands and paperclips I nicked from Jeremy Corbyn’s office when the Labour Party disbanded last year. Of course it’s not bloody safe.”
The Prime Minister watched in horror as his one-time ally produced a stick of dynamite and a box of matches.
“Little present from Theresa. Pretty bitter about you resigning to force a leadership contest last July. Hell hath no fury, as they say.”
Boris could only watch as his one-time ally attached the stick of dynamite to the back of his safety harness. Nigel grinned as he struck the match and lit the long fuse.
“You should have got me a seat in the Cabinet, Boris. I campaigned for years, and you swept in at the last minute and took the top job. Leaving me nothing but staging photo opportunities with fish. Ready for your zip wire? It’s up to you how you play it. Remove the dynamite and lob it into the crowd – but you’ll have to let go of the zip wire, and rely on that safety harness which I reckon will hold you up for … ooh, 5 seconds max? Or hang on for dear life and become part of the firework display. It’ll be great entertainment for the proles either way. Bread and circuses, mate.”
3 thoughts on “Bread and Circuses”
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Reblogged this on kirstwrites and commented:
Is BoJo about to launch a leadership bid? In his honour, i dusted off this short story which I wrote 2 years ago – it felt like a wild fantasy at the time, but much closer to becoming reality now.