Filthy moats and even more filthy gnus
I was woken early by the obnoxious smell of the family moat, which can be quite ripe in these summer months.
I lay in bed hoping the smell would simply go away but not sufficiently bothered to do anything about it - it reminded me in fact of the party's attitude to Mrs May these last years. After several hours Box finally arrived to announce that morning had officially started. "You're awake, my lord," he said, stating the obvious as only Box can. "I have brought your coffee and toast," he said, topping the obvious with a second helping of obvious.
"I was woken by the stench of the moat. Any news on my claim to get the moat cleaned?"
"I'm afraid Finance have sent back your request. They say it isn't central to your parliamentary business."
"Not central to my business, Box! But how's a man supposed to function as a good parliamentarian knowing that back home his moat is heaving with rat-infested rubbish. Why, when David Attenborough manages to film a single cotton bud in the Atlantic ocean the whole world is up in arms."
"I believe that people are concerned about the wildlife, my lord."
"Yet they don't give a damn about my ducks, having to wade through that festering junk pile."
Box, as ever, was not interested in a serious debate on the important topics of the day and changed the subject. "I have your order papers for the day, my lord, and remember to be back for the pm."
"The PM! She's coming here?"
"No, my lord, the pm non-capital letters - I mean the afternoon. We have the public health inspectors visiting. You remember the complaint about the strange smell."
"Bloody neighbours, they manage to take issue with anything."
Keen to escape the fetid smell of home I rushed to parliament, and made a rare visit to my parliamentary office, which I share with Baroness Bluster who is ever-present, and consequently the reason I'm rarely there.
"Ah, Lord, I wanted to talk to you about the obscene gnudity on your wall."
Good morning is not a phrase in Baroness Bluster's vocabulary, but apparently gnudity is.
"The naked gnu on your wall, what did you think I meant?"
"You mean the picture of the gnu?"
"Yes, well it's naked isn't it. A completely nude gnu."
"Well it doesn't have clothes on, but then it is a gnu. They tend not to wear clothes, like most animals."
"In the wild, yes, I have no problem with beasts running naked in the wild if that is what nature intended, but to put pictures of naked animals on the wall, on OUR wall, I think it's disgusting. Who wants to look at naked animals all day?"
"I can take it down," I said, ever conciliatory. "I don't even like it, it's one of my dentist's, if you buy his art he uses anesthetic and takes out the right tooth when you need an extraction. The patient before me lost half a mouthful of molars, he only went in for a check-up. I only put it up so I could claim it on expenses, you know what Finance are like, they go through every penny."
I sat down and started going through my papers, but couldn't help but notice Baroness Bluster staring at me.
"Can I help you Lady Bluster?" I said.
"The painting. You were going to take it down."
"Well obviously I'm not going to take it down myself, I'm a Peer of the realm not a common mechanical, I'll get Box to do it as soon as he arrives."
"You'd think a man would know how to do simple manual tasks. I'll do it myself." She picked up her phone. "Doreen," she said, "come and take down the awful gnudist painting."
Doreen is Baroness Bluster's assistant, a mad, tussle-haired Liberal in the same mold as Bluster herself.
"I'm glad you're taking down that wildlife pornography," she said, bustling into the room the instant, as if she'd been waiting outside the door for the opportunity to bustle in. "All these naked animals everywhere, I'm sure it encourages bestiality."
"Wilderbestiality in this instance," I joked, and soon regretted it. The two women glared at most as only liberal women can glare.
"Your animal porn," Doreen said, handing me the painting.
"What shall I do with it?" I asked.
"You probably don't want to hear my answer," Doreen said. She was right, I didn't. I phoned Box to arrange its hasty removal and made a hasty retreat to the chamber for Oral Questions, where I could rest peacefully through the Pornographic Animal Portraits debate. It wasn't until I heard Baroness squawking excitedly that I realised what I'd walked into.
"Certain members here present who shall remain nameless," she turned and glared at me to make sure everyone realised who she meant, "Have taken it upon themselves to display pornographic animal pictures in shared office space. They even boasted that the filth was bought using public money - a total misuse of Peer's expenses. This House needs new rules banning expenditure on porn of any variety."
I fled the chamber, but the damage was done, my reputation as a wildlife pornographer was sealed. I returned to my office, but Doreen was still encamped there. I hastened away to the sanctity of the House of Lords bar, only to realise I'd come without money and the only peer present who I could cadge a drink off was that awful bore Viscount Disco, who proceeded to lecture me on the life cycle of the mayfly, whose early death I envied as I sat there waiting for the Baroness to finish her latest bluster.
What a day. I got home to find Box looking relaxed and without so much as a care in the world.
"You missed the inspectors, my lord," Box said.
"Oh blast, I forgot about them. Did that all go smoothly?"
"Not exactly my lord, we have Legionnaires' Disease."
"You have Legionnaires' Disease?"
"Not me, my lord, our moat. They tested the water. The inspectors have slapped an order on us to get the moat cleaned or face prosecution under public health legislation."
"Well that's the winter heating budget gone then, Box. It costs a fortune to get these things cleaned."
"Actually my lord there is some good news on that front. Action necessitated under a compulsory public health intervention notice is claimable."
"You mean, I can send the bill back to finance."
"Exactly my lord, which is the reason I phoned in a complaint to public health in the first place."
"Box, you sneaky thing. How can I ever repay you?"
"Well, there was one small thing my lord..."
"That will have to wait, Box. The moat takes precedence over everything. Get the cleaners on the phone now, our poor neighbours, every single Legionnaire among them at perilous risk all the time we're here rabbiting on. We'll talk about your small thing another time."
"Yes my lord. Anything you say."