George was very cross this morning. He hadn’t finished dunking his soldiers, let alone decided whether to have plum jam (from Waitrose, wink, wink) or marmalade on his toast, when Kylie came in and told him that Sir Nicholas Macpherson was on the telephone.
“Dash it all, Nick,” said George, “Can’t a chap have breakers these days?”
“It is 10:30, Chancellor, with all due respect”, said Sir Nicholas.
“Stop showing off! I was working on my diary with Kylie well before 9 this morning”.
“Well, I’ve been at my desk since 6:15”, said Macpherson.
George thought that that explained why Sir Nicholas was being so short tempered. George knew that the secret to a happy disposition was a good night’s sleep and lashings of kedgeree for breakfast.
“I was in my office at 4 this morning, so there” said George. He didn’t add that he had only been looking for the biscuit tin. It was the second time that he had woken up hungry in the night since taking this new job. Being important wasn’t as easy as people thought.
“We really ought to be talking more about the new budget,” said Sir Nicholas.
“Can’t it wait until Friday?” asked George. “I’m going down to Rymans on Thursday afternoon with Kylie and PC Collins, to pick up some nice notebooks to write things in, and I might even buy a new calculator, so I will be fully prepared by Friday”.
“But Chancellor, we are in the worst economic situation ever, the national debt is mounting, and it needs urgent attention”
“Oh pooh!” said George, “How much is the national debt anyway?”
“All told, it is in excess of 900 billion pounds, Chancellor”.
“Lumme!” said George, he didn’t want to appear silly in front of Sir Nicholas, so wrote down the question ‘How many billions in a hundred?’ to ask someone later. “I’ll get Frances to pop along to Natwest and see if we can’t arrange an overdraft, and let you know.”
“Most risible, Chancellor”, said Sir Nicholas, and rang off.
George telephoned Sir Nicholas back straight away, and tried an accent he had been practising. “This is Jeffrey Osborne from the Financial Times”, he said, trying not to giggle, “I wondered if you could settle a little wager we’ve been having here in Fleet Street. How many billions are there in a hundred?”
“Seven, Chancellor,” said Sir Nicholas and put the phone down again.
George was very excited, and wondered which of his friends would be the first to say "George Osborne, this is your life."
He hoped that it would be Nick, because William's accent made George giggle.