[The story so far: Secret Agent George Moonbat, disguised as Tony Blair, is off to Guyana to give the keynote speech at an Environmental Conference, accopmpanied by his MI6 minder Captain Delingpole, the delicious Miranda Doyle-Rigg, and the faithful Barry Woods].
Moonbat had always loved flying in aeroplanes, and this was the first time he’d been first class. It really was such a delicious experience, you’d need to invent a really super duper watertight scientific theory to make people feel guilty about it. People had, and George had swallowed it, as had practically everyone else of his age and social class. To a certain sort of person, pleasure wasn’t pleasure unless it was guilty pleasure.
The Georgetown flight didn’t do the kind of private suites that you found on the flights to Qatar or Singapore, but it really was quite luxurious. His only worry was the fear of being interrogated by his fellow passengers. Luckily, the person sitting opposite didn’t look like the sort to start a conversation about his Middle East Peace Initiative or the hospital funding scandal.
You get all sorts on British Airways long haul flights, but this was the first time Moonbat had seen a bag lady. She was of a certain age, and a certain build, with bright orange hair and carrying a plastic carrier bag from which she removed bits of cloth from time to time to stare at, her lips moving soundlessly all the while. Moonbat, peering at her curiously over his Financial Times, realised that, as other first class passengers might read their Forbes Magazines, she was reading the slogans on t-shirts.
She looked up suddenly and stared at him, before he had time to shelter behind his FT. “Don’t I know you?” she announced in a piercing voice. “You’re Cheri’s husband. She told me you were off to Rome, having a love-in with the Pope or something.”
“I’m off to a conference, to save the world”, explained Moonblair, hoping that would silence the tramp-like figure opposite him. (And how could she possibly know Cheri? Could she be the new cleaning lady? Or an illegal immigrant Cheri was defending from deportation?)
“Oh are you? So am I!” said the bag lady, “I wonder if it’s the same one? Mine’s ‘Amazon 2020 Or Die’, what’s yours?” And she pulled out a t-shirt to illustrate her point.
Yes, I think that’s the one,” replied Moonblair, in as authoritative voice as he could manage. He realised that he had no idea what the conference was called, or even what it was about. (What did it matter when we were facing ecological catastrophe from so many directions at once?) “I’m giving the keynote speech tonight,” he added, trying to sound modest and important at the same time.
But the bag lady wasn’t listening. She was already launched on an explanation of her plan to save the world, illustrating each point in her programme by pulling out a t-shirt with a different slogan. Moonblair caught up with her stream of consciousness just as she was announcing “…And then Kate and Noemi are flying in, and we’re all going to run nude through the Amazon armed with bows and arrows to stop the loggers.”
Moonbat felt this deserved a comment. “Gosh, what a marvellous idea. Nude with bows and arrows, like the Goddess Diana.”
“No, she can’t come,” explained the bag lady patiently, as if to a backward child. “We thought of her, but she died in a car crash a while ago”.
Moonblair tried to pick up the thread. “What, you mean, Kate Moss and Noemi Campbell are going to be running nude through the Amazon?…”
“And me,” said the bag lady. They said to me: ‘Vivienne’, they said, ‘We’ll only do it if you’ll do it’. Always if they don’t have some other job on of course. In which case they said they’ll send their friend, top Amazonian model Kitikati O’Reilly…
“What, Nosebone Kitikati, the Blowpipe Queen?” said Moonblair, jolted to attention by a flood of old memories.
“You know her? asked the bag lady, suddenly feeling that Cheri’s husband might not be such a boring old stick after all.
“Kitikati and I go back a long way”, ventured Moonblair modestly, “To the first stirrings of deep ecology in fact.” And he fell silent, lost in reveries of his far-off youth, while Vivienne Westwood went back to reading her t-shirts, her lips moving in intense concentration.
* * *
At Georgetown airport Moonblair was sped through the VIP lounge and met up with his team, who had been travelling tourist class.
Dellers held to the Edgar Allan Poe theory that things were best hidden in full view, and insisted on travelling as Blair’s military advisor. He really looked quite fetching in full World War Two combat gear, though getting through security at Heathrow had been a problem. Barry Woods was there, revelling in his role as Blair’s bodyguard. The burly Jamaican had always dreamed of being a nightclub bouncer, but his kind face and gentle manner made him totally unsuitable for the job. Besides, he’d failed the written test.
Miranda needed no disguise. She was everybody’s image of the perfect secretary -cum-personal assistant. Not the one who does the typing, but the one the boss takes with him to international conferences.
The conference went extraordinarily well. They didn’t stay for the actual speeches of course, just the cocktail party and the keynote speech, which Moonblair delivered with faultless aplomb, as if he’d been spouting such flatulent rubbish all his life. Which he had of course, but in marquees and rooms above pubs and student unions, not international conference centres. They cocktailed and socialised and met everyone and spoke to everyone, and George and Kitikati struck up an acquaintance which stirred George to the quick, since not only was he no longer the man he had once been, but he was pretending to be someone else. It’s something we all do and suffer for to some extent, but George felt it particularly intensely.
They shook hands with Sir Paul Nurse, kissed Michael Mann’s ring, and generally networked their socks off. By the end of the evening Barry and Miranda and Major “Monty” Delingpole (T.A.) had been nominated, proposed, seconded and co-opted onto a dozen secret committees, and had been made trustees, fellows, or honorary vice-presidents of charities, foundations, and not-for-profit green think-tanks worth half a billion.
They were in high spirits as they sped to the airport in the diplomatic limousine, each of them clutching a diary full of speaking tour dates and the telephone numbers of the Great and Green in one hand, and a half empty bottle of some vicious South American aperitif in the other. Customs and passport regulations had been waived, and they set off across the tarmac to the waiting private jet, Moonbat somewhat unsteadily in the lead.
Suddenly, George felt a large brown hand clutch his shoulder, and he heard:
“Mr. Blair, sir, I’se mekkin’ a citizen’s arrest. You’se wanted all over de shop for crimes aginst de humanities.”
A half a dozen burly figures emerged from the shadows, and, as he was led off to the waiting police van, George Moonbat just had time to shout out, in as dignified a voice as he could muster: “Et tu, Barry!”