In an alternative reality Cabinet meets to discuss matters of strategy with some urgency. A pandemic and Brexit loom large.
I must state from the get go that there is nothing funny about Covid. It’s a serious disease that has brought most nations to stand still, created impasse in health services, caused great distress in families through direct encounter with the disease or through financial stress that would not normally have arisen. That, fellow writers, is before we even touch base on mental health. There are obviously posts upon each of these topics which could fall under mindfulness and positive thinking. That is another day however.
What many of you will know, if I’ve dropped in and struck dialogue on your blogs on this topic, is that my disdain of politicos is pretty obvious. No more so than now. So…
In an alternative reality where the U.K. government is making a mess of everything, the pandemic is running riot, Brexit achieved and the Cabinet convened to discuss the start of the New Year.
Names used are entirely coincidental, no attempt to conform to their namesakes character traits has been attempted. Cult fiction, band or musical references are nothing to do with me!
Other than that inspiration came from this months BlogBattle prompt, “BLANK.”
Please note. This type of writing has never appeared here before. I don’t write humour!
Cabinet Meeting December 30th
Chaired by Prime Minister Joris Bohnson.
Sushi Runak Chancellor of the Exchequer
Hatt Mancock Health Secretary
Wavin Gilliamson Education Secretary
Bominic Daab Foreign Secretary
Ritap Latep Home Secretary
Wen Ballace Secretary of State for Defence
Dr Cherese Toffey Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Bobart Ruckland Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
Macob Jees Rogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons.
“Happy New Year and thank you to everyone that managed to attend the knees up and I hope those who travelled to see relatives had a safe journey home.
To business.” Jorris shuffled his papers. The Agenda had more points to cover than normal. Two in fact. Both items were in capital letters.
“Sage has suggested we address the new Covid variant currently circulating. Suggestions.”
Blank looks stared intently at documents resting upon a large round oak table. Recently added to remove corners and therefore bring the ministers together. A HR suggestion supported unanimously when mention of knights and Excalibur were mooted. In the spirit of mood improvement and mindfulness the civil servant responsible had a knife imprisoned in a stale Christmas cake. This sat in the centre. Thus far nobody had been able to pull it out.
Within Civil Servant circles bitter irony had swirled over the heads of those present in the Cabinet Office. Swords, after all, were for falling upon. While HR saw positive mental attitude, the feeling within those that actually ran things was that sabres of the light variety might actually need broaching from the vault. Rumour had it a Sith Lord was chomping at the bit and now leading the Opposition.
“Schools are still destined open Jorris.” An opener from Wavin Gilliamson, Education Secretary.
“Decorum Wavin, address the Chair as Chair please and repeat your question.” The boom of an omnipotent Watcher of Proceedings echoed through the room.
Only Wen Ballace considered this Big Brotheresque and a foreshadowing of those damnable press leeks. Now imported from Wales owing to a supply flaw caught up in border red tape. Brexit for you. He kept that to himself. After all if the Scots were to be allowed a second “Once in a Lifetime” referendum then the possibility of a coup to follow suit with a “Back into Europe” one might be possible given the Scots would unwittingly set a precedent. At this he chuckled inwardly, they’d be too skint to actually join the EU, bereft of fiscal support from the south and desperately looking for a new currency printer on the cheap.
Base reasoning on the issue of a coup was why he’d aspired to Defence Secretary.
Wavin nodded. A disguise to conceal a nervous tic that was deeply installed after an educational epiphany. The question part he ignored. Such matters of statement versus question were often used to move on. Ride roughshod over things that Cabinet might trip over. Still, an epiphany was an epiphany.
“Apologies. Chair, schools are still destined to open.”
“I assume there is a contentious point to be made.”
“Well, yes. Why not shut them?”
Audible sighs wobbled the cake bound knife.
“Are you quite mad? A stony faced Macob Jees Rogg glared at the Defence Secretary through spectacles steamed up due to an ill fitting mask.
“Wavin is seated opposite you Rogg.” Wen Ballace felt his hackles rising. He knew where this was going. Eminently sensible to be defeated by a load of gonads leaving the Education Secretary to look like the buffoon carrying the light of collective responsibility. Were this a defence matter such blatant undermining would leave him no option but to do a Heseltine.
“Quite,” said Wavin undeterred. “If we abandon examinations this year for both GCSES and A-Levels then schools could remain closed, barring attendance by children of key workers and those in vulnerable social groups. Given they are potential super spread environments this could lead to transmission of the virus to teaching staff, taking it home to spread to elderly relatives or even peer groups within the school itself.”
“I do see your point there,” said Hatt Mancock. “As Health Secretary I am unanimous in saying survival of the fittest. New variants are trickling in causing huge increases in hospital admissions. Our cases now top the tables and everything is relying on the vaccines. Especially ours, which is cheap and stores well.”
“He was suggesting closing schools Hatt, do keep on topic and refrain from ludicrous ideology on natural selection just because you not considered to be in the at risk group.” Dr Toffey felt glaring too Ballace like, so smouldered in silence. Her own departmental budget was in dire need of finances so boat rocking was not something worthwhile. Besides, it might get word associated to fishing and that topic was currently taboo. A possible point of contention if they ever reached Agenda point two.
“Yes, indeed,” said Jorris, “I agree schools should remain closed, unless we decide otherwise, which might be tomorrow. It’s a fast changing science this virus lark.”
Bobert Rutland stirred, “Speaking of science, there is some rumour the mutation rates might find a way to alter Spike so the immune system fails to respond.”
“Spike?” Bombinic Raab interjected.
“Isn’t he the chap that sequenced the virus?” Sushi Runak felt he ought to be contributing.
“No that was Dr…” Jorris looked down trying to remember.
Dr Who?” Rutland was quick to facilitate.
Ballace tried to remain calm. By his reckoning Unit was no longer operational and matters of bigger on the inside were now outside of parliamentary control. Given the current loss of focus this was one of his wiser moves. He bit anyway, “What makes you say that Rutland?”
“The blue thing in the corner.”
“Ah. Just decor and nothing to concern yourself with.”
“We were discussing schools.” Wavin thumped his fist on the oak. Can we try and stick on topic?”
“Good thinking Education Secretary. This is rapidly becoming a farce.” Ritap Latep was deeply regretting her careeer choice. “Do go on, you were suggesting school closure. Presumably you have considered the examination issues this will inevitably raise.”
“As it happens I have, and considering other devolved U.K. countries have already scrapped them this year I feel it might be prudent to do likewise before term actually starts. Give some clarity of direction as it were.”
“Agreed,” said Ballace. “While this is an unparalleled situation with a potential for Dystopia this government must cease appearing to be late to the party…as it were.”
“True Wen, I noticed your absence over the Christmas work do.” A glancing look from a prime minister looking rather tired.
“Social distancing Jorris, it’s called do as we say and not as you do. One might even venture this could fall into the remit of collective responsibility, leading from the top, setting an example and so on.”
“Be fair, the cabinet current here could be termed a social bubble and thus exempt from rule breaking surely. I even cycled seven miles to get there.”
“You went round in circles and ended up in Annie’s Bar here!” retorted Sushi Runak!”
“Where you bought me a drink and charged it to the Treasury.”
Ballace sighed for the umpteenth time, “It’s called Moncrieff’s now Prime Minster. It got Starbucked ages ago and, if I recall correctly, followed an exorcism to remove the spirit of the deceased by which it was named.”
“It’s better than the Sports and Socialist,” Rogg chipped in.
“You would say that Macob,” said Buckland.
“Meaning we were discussing school closure,” Wavin was trying to keep his epiphany up and forefront despite the distractions he knew were trying to get him off topic.”
“Bravo,” said Dr Toffey, “you were about to disclose a plan I think Wavin.” Although the rambling of discourse was now muddying the water in her mind too.
“Order,” came the booming voice. The Watcher of Proceedings was trying to disguise the mirth in his voice. Mention of The Dr had him adjusting the equalising system and tinkering with distortion to provide something akin to the voice of Davros. Enjoy the little things.
“Noted Watcher,” said Jorris. “Agenda item two.”
“Hold on Prime Minister, you’ve not heard the plan yet.” Wavin stood up for emphasis. He also considered removing the knife Excalibur might be relatively simple if one just cut the cake in half. Amazing how a different perspective altered a view point.
“Very well Education Secretary. Be concise, we haven’t got all day.”
Ballace felt if he continued rolling his eyes he might be able to watch his own brain blow a fuse. If the military worked this way….
“I realise this might be radical,” began Wavin. “I have long pondered the Education system with its league tables and assorted reporting structure by BOFSTED. The current disruption and loss of learning by children is a matter of great concern.” He paused looking to each Minister in turn. A few noted his eyes were now glowing blue. “If education was linear across all schools with each Exam Board distributing the same examination papers then parity would be achieved. Any child could seamlessly move schools and slot into the syllabus at roughly the point they left.
With the pandemic as it is assessment would be on a level playing field. No shopping round between boards, no variation of core material. Everyone gets taught the same topics, in the same order, sits the same exam and gets assessed under the same knowledge base if things go awry and civilisation rests on the cusp of anarchy.”
Revolutionary Wavin, thought Ballace. You’re in when I launch the coup.
“Anarchy….in the U.K.” Rogg was incensed. “How dare you use that in the same sentence as education.”
“Would it be better used in context of Agenda item two then Rogg?” Dr Toffey was onboard too.
“That’s rather an advanced solution Wavin.” Jorris was thinking fast. “Would Sith Karma support such a notion? Would the Unions and teachers rally to something that would actually reduce red tape and continuous planning.”
“Prime Minister, the Opposition is called that for a reason. They oppose everything and when they do agree with something they abstain. The immediate question would be would our own Party support it?”
“Anarchy…in the U.K..” muttered Rogg to himself. Slightly more audible, while avoiding all eye contact and eyeing Excalibur, he added “Even Private Schools?”
“All schools, education for all on a level playing field. No exceptions or advantage in any sector,” enthused Dr Toffey. “Even funding might be better managed. Learning from home less diverse in terms of variation. If teachers struggle to cope, a central emergency resource to distribute the same learning on all platforms to all children.”
“More important is educational stability. A long term plan agreed across all parties with no radical changes every few years. Is it possible?” Sushi Runak was mentally calculating savings to the Treasury that might lose his bar bill.
“Might I raise a secondary point Prime Minister?”
Jorris was deep in thought. Head in both hands rubbing his temples and not thinking of hoisting a pint in the former Annie’s Bar. “Go ahead Mancock.”
“Could the NHS operate similarly?”
“All sectors under a common strategy. Centralised procurement of everything with a distribution network supporting it. Welsh lamb for example, buy British. Local produce. Remove the grip of supermarket chains and waste.”
“Marvellous!” said Runak.
“Madness,” decried Rogg. “Efficiency loses political point scoring at elections.”
“Gentlemen and women. This has turned into a ponderous discussion the requires cogitation before decision making. I suggest this motion be deferred.”Jorris saw a way out. Indecision, much easier than a vote which might create decision. Or worse still, actions that might look decisive. The public wouldn’t stand for that at all. “Schools open, we will convene again on January 2nd and review the matter then. Time marches on so if we can now turn to item two and advance the success of Brexit I’m sure we can all retire in good spirits this very evening.”
Ballace looked at Wavin. There goes the press buffoon. Open tomorrow closed the day after. Heseltine where art thou?” He eyed the cake once more and realised the hidden message of the civil servant responsible. You can’t have your cake and eat it. Obvious really.