“What have you got to be so happy about?” asked Nick.
“It’s funny – I’m always happy the moment Boris is off the scene.”
“Not sure that’s true,” said Nick, opening a paper to see pictures of Boris foxtrotting with Darcey Bussell, Boris conducting a Chinese Tea ceremony with a delightful Chinese Tea hostess, and Boris in a helicopter over Hong Kong, squeezed up next to a ravishing Air China pilot.
“Oh, that doesn’t matter,” said Dave. “Totty pictures go down very badly in the polls. And, talking of polls, I’m not doing so shabbily.”
Nick turned the page, flicking past another picture of Boris – this time jogging along the Great Wall of China in Hawaiian shorts and a Chairman Mao jacket, flanked by two lovelies in Red Guard costumes.
“Cameron soars!” boomed the headline. “Red Ed slips. And it’s bye-bye, Clegg…”
The temperature in the drawing room seemed to tumble a few degrees. Even the picture of Boris in a Chinese dragon outfit – next to an extremely fetching Chinese dragoness, a few well-positioned scales preserving her modesty – failed to lift Nick’s mood.
“It’s just not fair!” said Nick. “The further you move to the Right, the better you do. And the punters loved Ed’s Commie price-control stuff. But poor old piggy-in-the-middle gets thumped again.”
“Oh, do cheer up,” said Dave, thumping Nick on the back. “It isn’t just you who’s doing terribly – Nigel’s collapsing, too. Lynton’s a flipping genius. He always said it – Right is right. It’s like the Eighties all over again.”
“Yup – staggering social inequality. The rich get richer, the poor get…”
“Richer!” chirped Dave. “150,000 postmen sitting on shares worth three-and-a-half grand.”
“Something to keep them going when they’re on strike.”
“A wonderful double whammy!” said Dave. “Even Maggie never pulled that one off – a successful privatisation and a strike at the same time. The moment the voters see a bunch of postmen – rich postmen – in high-vis tabards standing round a brazier, we’re laughing all the way to an overall majority.”
God, Dave was insufferable when he was in a good mood, thought Nick, casting his eyes over a picture of Boris in a Last Emperor costume, being tended to by a harem of winsome imperial maidservants.
Clutching his jacket around his shivering frame, Nick found himself praying for the swift, safe return of the blond king over the water.