One grainy, grey London afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Gideon ‘George’ Osborne MP, strode briskly down to the cashpoint outside the Westminster branch of the Co-op, oozing all the confidence of his elevated station. He felt, in short, all right with the world. After a few moments’ contemplation, and a bit of trial and error, he found the right slot, and inserted his new Visa Payment card. Nothing happened. He tried again. At last, he guessed correctly that he must have put it in the wrong way round, and upside-down. How annoying, with all those permutations there was nothing to show which way in it was supposed to go. There were no civil servants on hand to ask. He wondered briefly, where his armed escort had got to?
Checking the PIN number his wife had thoughtfully scrawled inside his gold Asprey’s card-case, George chose On-screen Balance from the bewildering drop-down menu that appeared. It was hard to read the screen without bending down and shielding it from the light. ‘Current Balance £34.23’, it read. ‘Today you may take out £0’. George’s eyes swam and his heartrate noticeably quickened. But surely, he flustered, I have several million pounds in my account, that Great Uncle Little left me from his thingy, wallpaper business, that I so richly deserved to inherit because I am the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Famous Dave’s mate, and have never done a day’s work in my life? How on earth am I going to pay for a long liquid lunch with my mates from the City, down Spearmint Rhino?
Sorry pal, replied the ATM gruffly. You’re one of us now. If you’ve got any drugs on you, start dealing. Or you could video your wife having sex in six positions with the guy from next door, Sky’ll pay you two hundred for a good ten minutes of hot interracial action. I know, thought George, I’ll phone my mate, Famous Dave, and see about a spot of credit. George? drawled the familiar patrician tones. Wotchoo wan’? Er, ’slike this, Davemeoldmate, replied George. Somehow, the words wouldn’t come out right. He soldiered on. I’se jus’ wondrin ‘f you cd maybe len’ me a fiver, innit? Jus’ ’til payday. You mus’ be fuckin’ jokin’ came the coarse reply, that contrasted oddly with the Old Etonian’s elegant tones. Dontcha know there’s a squeeze on? We don’ wanna see ’eadlines in the Soaraway about us colaitionists frowin’ public money at benefit scroungers, is it? Cost us a million votes. Getta job, man. Us all gotta work now, right?
B-b-but how? stammered the hapless Chancellor, wiping the grease of the breakfast bacon sandwich from his shiny chin. He felt smaller. Sweat trickled down the channel in his nose, making him want to sneeze. I abolished all the jobs las’ week. Shoulda fought of that sooner, eh Georgy-boy? chortled Famous Dave, as his valet made minute adjustments to his cravat. On yer bike, son. I ain’t gotta bike! wailed the Chancellor, piteously. Well fuckin’ borrow one of, yunno, Boris’s, it’s only like thirty quid an hour, replied Dave. They’re pretty cool. His valet had started buffing his fingernails. Bu’ I ain’t got firty quid! whined George. It’s like what I’se sayin’, I need some benefits in me bank account, the rent’s due Fursday. I’ll give you benefits, you neo-fuckin’ liberal cunt! yelled Famous Dave, kicking his valet impatiently. Oops, sorry, mate, he said, peeling a note off a wad and slipping it to the grimacing man. You know ’ow it is with vese ministers. Like yer wants ter slap ‘em abaht a bit?
At that moment, a large, harassed looking man in a shiny suit appeared on the pavement next to George. Distastefully, he lumbered to the kerbside and scraped the turd off his shoe, before turning to the bemused Chancellor. What you need, my friend, is a payday loan! he announced. Wos one o’ vem? slurred George, wishing he were back at his comfortable desk in the Treasury. Easy! said the obnoxious man. We bung you a pony at a fair rate of interest, say twelve percent a month. Pay it back in a month, and we leave your kneecaps on the front of your legs. Only joking, son! After a month, it’s a bit more expensive, naturally. About five thousand APRs. But still affordable, compared with your average High Street bank’s unauthorised borrowing charges. Howsabout it?
Oh, fanks, burbled George. Yer a lifesaver, pal. Where do I sign? Not so fast, Gideon ‘George’ Osborne, said the man, his eyebrows knitting in a frown. I’m credit-checking you. It says here on my Tayberry you’ve been unemployed for 42 years. You surely can’t expect us to advance you such a large sum of money on that basis? Look, I know it’s tough living on the sick, but how can you expect me to make a payday loan when there’s no bloody payday? But I is the Chancellor of the Eschequer! Osborne forced out the words, in what sounded to him like a faraway voice. Do me a favour! snorted the salesman. And I’m the Prime Minister, right?
Osborne peered at the man more closely. Come to fink of it, he muttered to himself, ‘e does look a bit…. Gordon Bennett! Fuckin’ ’ell, you from some looky-likey model agency? He demanded loudly, thrusting eyes like two glinting chips of coal towards the appalling simulacrum before him. Fiscal rectitude! bellowed the man, his one eye lowering maniacally, schoolboy haircut a-quiver. Quantitative easing! Nae mair boom and bust! Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play…. You bastard! shouted Osborne, his face puce with rage. You spent all the fuckin’ dosh! All I got was a fuckin’ note from Byrnesy, sayin’ fanks fer all the fish. I’m gonna fuckin’ do you, you Scotch git!
Ah widnae try onythin’ if ah wis you! The big man spoke softly, the open cutthroatt razor weaving hypnotically before the Chancellor’s eyes. Unless ye fancy a Govan trachaeostomy, that is?
Where was Security, when you needed it?