I have written before of the fantasy in which I take the Carnegie Hall by storm (piano? violin? – it’s immaterial), clad in midnight blue velvet. My other favourite fantasy is accepting an Oscar for a performance of outstanding power – yet subtlety! – in a frock far more gorgeous and original than anything seen in the last ten years (dark green watered silk, fitted bodice, full skirt with a bit of a bustle going on, and a slash neck, since you ask).
But now I have abandoned these (frankly undamely) daydreams about talents I haven’t got and couture. No: inspired by Donald Tusk’s speculations about what the special place in hell for those who ‘proposed Brexit without a sketch of a plan’ might look like, I have found it far more satisfying to conjure up the bespoke hells that the chief architects of our present woes deserve, embroidering them with more exquisitely targeted torments every day.
Let’s start with Jacob Rees-Mogg, the father of six who has never changed a nappy. Today is not going well for Jacob, up in the cramped flat on the twelfth floor of a converted office block. In fact, he’s in meltdown, and it’s only 10am. He has to be at the council offices at 11, to pay the arrears on his council tax, or eviction looms. It’s taken him ages to scrape together the amount he needed, but now a nappy of epic proportions looks like scuppering his chances of getting to the council offices on time. He clings on to his son for dear life, because if the infant starts crawling around the poo seeping copiously from the edges of his nappy will get everywhere. Jacob could have sworn there was another packet of nappies.
A cry interrupts his son’s grizzling: ‘I hate you, Dad!’ his daughter bellows as she kicks the rotting skirting board. She’s refused to go to school as she hasn’t got any clean clothes. (She’s fed up with her classmates telling her she smells.) But the washing machine has broken down and any money Jacob had has gone towards the council tax arrears. And if he can’t get out, he won’t be able to get to the food bank either. They might have had some nappies as well – but he hasn’t got any more nappies so he can’t get out…
In another part of town, Boris takes a break from yet another go at making the figures look a bit brighter and looks out at the rain hammering down on the trading estate. He is worn out out, ground down by the futile effort of trying to make any plans at all when the situation is so uncertain. Things wouldn’t be so bad if he hadn’t taken out that loan last year. It had all looked so promising! He’d found a niche and innovated – done all the stuff the Government was always banging on about – and customers from all over seemed to like what he had to offer. But now the orders have dried up as his European customers got the jitters. And, let’s face it, even if a big order did come in, how would he fulfil it? Half his workforce have upped sticks and gone back to Romania or wherever, mumbling ‘Fuck this business’ as they headed out the door.
As he gets up to make a cup of tea he collides with a stack of boxes – he’s forgotten that every square in of his office, not to mention the workshop, is crammed with components he’s spent £50k on, but is unlikely ever to need.
Nigel’s entrancing dream about being locked in a cigar factory overnight gradually gives way to reality as consciousness dawns. But where is he? The slowly intensifying pain in his chest reminds him. That lung has never been quite right since his air crash, and now he has been given a new one. He needs more painkillers – this instant! He gropes for the nurse call button, which he finds lodged under his sweaty buttocks, and presses it with all his feeble might. He waits 10, 15, 20 seconds … but no one comes.
He opens his mouth, but no sound comes out. Now he realises his bladder is uncomfortably full, too. With a supreme effort he he rasps ‘Nurse!’ and collapses back on the pillows, watching the alarming spikes racing along on the heart monitor (can that really be dried blood on the side of it?). Two minutes later the curtains round his bed are swept aside with an angry whoosh and Nurse hisses ‘ Whatever it is you’ll just have to wait, Mr F: I’ve got one patient fitting in the next room, another stuck on a commode down the corridor, and a post-op arriving any second. We’re five trained nurses down on this ward.’ Then she turns on her heel. Nigel feels a warm flood spread round his nether regions … and the pain is getting worse.
Oh the sweetness of revenge reveries!