His reverie was broken by George barging in.
“Oh look: it’s the Stig,” said Nick.
“Shut up, Hamster,” said Dave, shooting his deputy a look.
“Good evening,” said George morosely. “If anything can be called 'good’ any more. Still, with any luck, the eurozone will collapse and we can blame the end of the world as we know it on someone else.”
George had not been on the best form this week. He’d spent the morning before his Autumn Statement scrabbling down the back of Number 11’s sofa to see if he could find any more coins to give to motorists. He’d spoken to the House and promptly retired to a darkened room, clutching a bottle of brandy, wondering if it was too soon to book a skiing holiday.
This turmoil was nothing, however, compared to Wednesday, the day of the strikes. Dave might have called it a damp squib, but George had arrived to work to find two mewling infants in the makeshift crèche, four of his staff standing outside in a picket line and six others en route to do their Christmas shopping in the new Westfield centre. George had disappeared to his darkened room again, where he spent the day playing online poker with what was left of the public-sector pension budget.
“Cheer up, George,” said Nick, offering him a seat. “It might never happen.”
“But it will happen,” said George. “Whether it’s the French or the Italians or the Greeks, it will happen.”
“All right, George,” said Dave, desperately trying to cheer him up. “Nick and I were just talking about Top Gear.”
“Yes,” said Nick. “I was saying how similar Dave is to Jeremy Clarkson. Boorish, Right-wing, sexist…”
“Jeremy is not a sexist,” spluttered Dave.
“Gotcha!” said Nick under his breath.
“Anyway,” continued Dave, “this all started because I joked about how much I’d like to execute Ed Miliband in front of his family.”
“I don’t know what that would achieve,” said George, with a wan smile. “His brother would enjoy it far too much.”