“No Tweedle Bo or Tweedle Trump, I see.” She announced, grinning proudly at her ability to make a joke in a foreign language. The rest of the politicians looked bewildered as their translators stumbled over the literary reference.
“Where is Donald Trump?” The German Chancellor demanded of the American President’s Head of Security, sitting behind his master’s empty chair. He carried on staring at the screen of his mobile and just shrugged his shoulders. He knew exactly where his boss was, but he wasn’t about to grass him up.
“You!” Barked Angela at the timid Deputy Assistant Under Secretary to the British Prime Minister. “Where is Boris Johnson? Why isn’t he here?”
“Erm, well, ah, er…” the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary stammered, but he was saved, if that was the right word, by the Irish Taoiseach: “The two of them are playing golf. Given the amount of time Boris was spending in the rough, don’t expect to see either of them before dinner.”
The German leader huffed and rolled her eyes and mouthed something that was later translated as “little boys” in German. “Well then we will make the decisions without them. This is vitally important. We are facing a new and invisible threat from a virus we haven’t encountered before. We have to decide whether we, as all of the world’s leaders, are going to go for herd immunity or lockdown. I shall go around the room and each country, in turn, will tell me what you have decided and why. The votes will be counted, and we will all go with the consensus. Italy, you start.”
“We know that the virus is far more deadly for older people and we value our grandparents too much. Lockdown.” Voted the Italian Prime Minister.
“Most of our people are out of work and have no money. There is no point them going out anywhere anyway. We vote for lockdown.” Was the Greek response.
“Our people are far too amorous.” Was the Spanish answer. “If they go out, they won’t stop kissing each other and spreading the virus far too quickly. Lockdown.”
“We know that the virus targets Asian people the worst,” responded the Indian Prime Minister, “We also vote for lockdown.”
“So do we.” Announced the leaders of the African countries in unison.
The New Zealand Prime Minister answered from her computer screen; “we are already in lockdown; nobody is coming into or out of this country.”
The Brazilian leader, however, took a dissenting view, “There are too many sick or elderly people in my country, herd immunity will ensure that only the young and fit survive.” Eyebrows shot up in a Mexican wave around the room, accompanied by shocked gasps, as the various translators delivered this brutal message one after the other.
Finally, all countries had delivered their votes apart from the two empty chairs. “USA!” Demanded the meeting host. “What is your vote?”
“I have a tweet here from the President,” came the Head of Security’s reply. “It reads: ‘What is the point in keeping people alive if they lose their jobs and can’t afford to pay for food or rent. We will go for herd immunity.” Another round of raised eyebrows but no gasps of surprise this time.
“And lastly, and you are always last aren’t you, United Kingdom. What is your vote?”
The Deputy Assistant Under Secretary to the British Prime Minister slumped in his seat, defeated. Unlike his American twin, Boris Johnson hadn’t seen fit to furnish a response so the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary would have to carry the future of the country on his own shoulders. More to himself he responded quietly: “Well, we work the longest hours of the whole of Europe but are the least productive, we have the highest rate of divorce and teenage pregnancies as people spend far too much time away from their families, so they don’t appreciate each other. We spend the most time commuting and travelling and have the most congested roads. We spend far too much money, rack up too much debt and don’t save enough for the bad times. We are ruining the environment by building more and more retail parks, airports and amusement attractions. We have the worst exam results because children spend far too much time at after school clubs and activities and don’t spend enough time revising. Teenagers expect to spend three years at university sleeping around and getting drunk and waste upwards of £50 grand on a useless degree only to end up working in Tesco. Our old people are only valued for their childminding skills and bundled off into homes when they’re no longer of use…”
Before he could continue, he was interrupted by the Italian leader: “You people need to learn to appreciate your families more.” The Swiss President then interjected with: “You need to make better use of technology and work from home. Stop doing all that travelling.” “Stay at home and stop wasting money or you’ll end up like us,” came the Greek reply.
Before the Deputy Assistant Under Secretary could respond, Angela Merkel had marked her paper with the British vote. “You’re going for lockdown whether you like it or not.”
And that is how Britain ended up in lockdown.