The Shoe Leather Express

Writing and Comedy from James Harris

Month: October, 2020

Refugees welcome

Photo under a CC0 license via Pexels.com.

Two Civil Servants are waiting for the Hone Secretary, who enters.

CS One: Ah, Home Secretary, so glad you could join us.

Home Secretary: I was just watching daytime television.

Cs Two: Pointless?

Home Secretary: Not as much as dealing with you idiots. Now, what have you got?

Cs One: Right, Home Secretary, so we do have a few ideas based on your proposal.

Home Secretary: Use gigantic waves to push refugees back across the English Channel. Pretty cool, right?

Cs Two: Ye-e-e-s…. The thing is, ‘cool’ as the idea undoubtedly is –

Home Secretary: I saw them do it at Center Parcs. So much fun!

Cs One: But we would obviously be talking about a much-larger operation here.

Home Secretary: I like the word large!

Cs Two: It would cost 500 million, Home Secretary.

Cs One: We don’t have 500 million, Home Secretary.

Cs Two: We don’t have five million, Home Secretary.

Cs One: Also it’d be illegal under international law.

Home Secretary: But not illegal under British international law.

Cs One: Is that… a thing?

Home Secretary: Well what about a cheaper option, like sinking their stupid little boats?

Cs One: Sometimes the weather’s bad.

Home Secretary: Yes, I can imagine the headlines if we lose any of our sailors… Well, what about sending them to remote islands?

Cs Two: The issue there is the people who already live on the remote islands. A lot of them feel terribly British, you see, right down to not liking foreigners.

Cs One: There is one other possibility…

Cs Two: You sure?

Home Secretary: Come on, hurry up, I’m very hungry!

Cs Two: We let the refugees in, but… We’re really mean to them.

Cs One: You know, follow them around making intensely belittling comments all the time, like ‘You’ve got a big nose’ or ‘You’ll never get a job in those shoes’, and keep this up until they eventually leave of their own free will.

Home Secretary: But isn’t that just the current system anyway?

Aide Two: Here’s the twist –

Aide One: – in light of current unemployment figures  –

Aide Two: We could make benefits claimants do it.

Aide One: Or community-spirited volunteers.

Aide Two: ‘Drive out to help out’, we thought.

Aide One: Basically: We get the public to get rid of the asylum seekers for us. And we don’t pay them.

Pause.

Home Secretary: I absolutely… love it! It’s just the combination of cheap and cruel we’re looking for. Well done morons – treat yourself to a glass of water! It’s this kind of innovativeness which makes Britain such a great country. After all, why else do so many people keep wanting to come here!

End

A memory

At times like this I comfort myself with the time I played a tiger in a Lana Del Rey video. Oh, I remember – the way we filmed the long takes, the heaviness of the tiger suit, Lana’s preternatural calm. I remember most of all though the breaks, when they’d winch the head off me, and I’d have a brief few minutes to prowl about. One day my walks took me to the back of the studios where I met, all alone, Lana. She was standing there smoking in that beautifully-sculpted, slightly-taller than you might think hipster way. And I remember approaching her, stooped, my paws raised, and going ‘Ra!’ And Lana saying ‘God – you scared me!’ And me saying, ‘Sorry.’ And then her, ‘Are you a real tiger?’ And me replying ‘No, I’m a translator from Nottingham.’ ‘Well,’ she said, ‘Lower your paws.’ And so I did and stood before my idol; she was so radiant I had to look at my feet. And Lana said, ‘It’s so stressful all this, don’t you think?’ ‘And the lights are hot – especially for me.’ ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I have to search really hard to find a moment for myself. You won’t tell anyone I’m here will you?’ ‘Nottingham men,’ I said, ‘are famously taciturn.’ And she laughed at that, and I really felt that it was going well – who knows where the conversation could have gone from there. Maybe she liked men dressed as big cats. But next moment one of her people had found her and could be seen approaching with a coffee and an ashtray for her cigarette and also an arm leading her back to the set. She was gone.

That was nine years ago. I’m still a translator from Nottingham, and she’s more famous and respected than ever. But I’ll always have the time I played a tiger in her video. Often as the nights draw in I find myself looking at photos; look, that’s me on the left. The other guy’s a tiger.

Video to ‘Born to Die’ (2013), directed by Woodkid.

Last orders

“Pub Night” by igormazic is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings in hi-vis jackets.

Boris Johnson: I’ve told you before Dom, I have no desire to witness the consequences of my own actions.

Dominic Cummings: Prime Minister, it’s necessary. The focus groups are saying the public want to see you getting more directly involved.

Boris Johnson: It just seems against my, you know, liberal British values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Dominic Cummings: Those are American values, sir.

Boris Johnson: Well, I am American, even if I gave up my citizenship to avoid paying tax!

Dominic Cummings: That is very American, Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson: Do I look alright?

Dominic Cummings:  They’re all pissed, sir.

Boris Johnson: They’ll eat me alive like a lump of fried lard!

Dominic Cummings: Yes, but you need to be their lump of fried lard. Get in or I’ll kick you!

Sounds of a busy pub.

Boris Johnson: Listen up, er… er… boozers!

Drinker:  Hey, it’s Boris!

Boris Johnson:  Yes it is, your upstanding Prime Minister and, and as it’s now 9.55 in the evening, and I have to tell you to, er, er… drink up and go home!

Drinker: Home?

Boris Johnson: Yes, sort of ‘drink up then get out’, to paraphrase Rishi, not that any of you should pay any real attention to him.

Drinker Two: But I’ve just ordered –

Dominic Cummings: Tough. Out!

Boris Johnson: It’s the new rules, terribly, er, er, sorry.

Drinker Three: But I’m eating.

Dominic Cummings: Throw your food in the bin!

Drinker Three: But –

Dominic Cummings: Scrape off the veg!

Sound of a breaking glass.

Female Drinker: Prime Minister!

Boris Johnson: Yes, attractive young woman.

Female drinker: I voted for you. And I thought you were freedom loving. And now you’re telling us that we have to go home right in the middle of our night out?

Dominic Cummings: Don’t listen to her, Prime Minister.

Female drinker: Do listen to me, Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson: Dom, Dom, do listen to this, er, I must say, buxom young woman. How could anyone tell the Great British Drinker that he cannot have his or her or their pint? Or in this person’s case pint, pie and gravy and what’s that?

Drinker Three: Mushy peas.

Boris Johnson: Well I say you have a right to your mushy peas!

A murmur of agreement.

Boris Johnson: And, and this vile policy that I – I – just introduced – as well as any other ones you don’t like – now or in future – well just I say – to hell with it! How dare my government interfere with your lives!

Cheers.

Boris Johnson: Never! Never! Barkeep – buy everyone a round! We must and shall defeat this horrendous government overreach by – drinking all night! And later – all doing shots!

Loud cheers and singing of ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’.

Dominic Cummings: It’s going to be a long night.

End