Finest Hour

I was famished when I got home. So I wasn’t pleased to find a man in my bedsit.

‘Mr Godber? Your landlady kindly let me in. I have a proposition for you.’

I’d spent the afternoon factoring bank holidays into my ‘working days to retirement’ spreadsheet, seething after being volunteered for the department’s paperclip audit.

‘I don’t need any life assurance, thanks.’

He chuckled. ‘No, no. My name’s Thompson. I’m from the ministry.’

He pulled out a pad from his pinstripes.

‘One security question, sir. Any club memberships?’

I’d once been on the darts team at the Shepherd’s Dog in Catford High Street.

‘No.’

‘Not the Bullingdon Club?’

‘Never heard of it.’

‘Excellent. We’d like you to be Prime Minister.’

‘Pardon?’

‘The country needs a fresh approach, Mr Godber. Man of the people, and all that. You popped up on our database.’

‘Can I think about it?’

‘Ah … slight problem. You’re seeing the Queen in fifty minutes. Providing you say yes.’

‘The Queen?’

‘Wouldn’t want to keep Her Majesty waiting. She has a five-minute window before Coronation Street. We’ll go to the BBC from the Palace.’

‘BBC?’

‘State of the Nation address. We’ll give you a few bullet points.’

‘Um … what, “Finest hour”, that kind of thing?’

‘Actually, Mr Godber, they’ve been rather overplayed recently.’

‘Look, I’ll think about it. I need to cook my supper.’

‘We took the liberty of ordering some sandwiches. They’re in the car. Cheese and chutney.’

‘On white?’

‘On white, Mr Godber.’

‘Branston?

‘Branston indeed sir.’

‘Small chunk?’

‘Small chunk.’

‘Squares, not triangles?’

‘Cheese and chutney on white. Small chunk Branston. Squares not triangles. Two rounds.’

I took a deep breath and put my shoulders back.

‘All right.’

‘Good man.’

‘I’ve got a suit in the wardrobe. Might still fit.’

‘The sweater and slacks are great.’

Mr Thompson strode to the door, but stopped.

‘Nearly forgot. One other question. Parties?’

I couldn’t tell him I never bothered to vote.

‘Sort of centrist. Left-leaning, I suppose.’

‘I meant the other sort of parties.’

‘I hate parties.’

Mr Thompson smiled.

‘You’re going to do very well. Shall we go, Prime Minister?’

Author Bio: Chris Cottom lives near Macclesfield and is an escaped insurance copywriter (Key Features of Your Stakeholder Transfer Plan), Harrods handbag seller and Christmas hamper packer. He won the 2021 Retreat West Flash Fiction Prize, was the People’s Choice Winner of the 2022 LoveReading Very Short Story Award, and in the early 1970s lived next door to JRR Tolkien.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s