Moss doesn’t grow: an alternative universe appears

by David Lewis

‘Sir Michael, they’ll be here shortly. Do you want a press spokesman?’

‘No, thank you, Angie, I’ll talk to them before I go’

Sir Michael sat in a big office in Whitehall. This was, perhaps, not the best time to leave, but politics was a tough game, and it eventually caught up with everyone. He’d been the conservative member for Sedding Vale, a fairly safe semi-urban seat, since 1975. Seen as one of the party’s bright young men, his full lips, penetrating voice and blue eyes cut a fine figure on television. Some called him ugly, but there was no doubt he caught the female vote. He progressed quickly, especially as one of Maggie’s favourites. His landmark speech, in which he’d started ‘I speak for those who live on the ninth floor and above of their unit blocks. You are the backbone of Britain….’  He’d finished it, ‘and to those I love, those dreamers, those doers, I want them to say to government, get off my cloud.’

Maggie loved it, of course. Next cabinet reshuffle, he got a junior ministry, arts and recreation, and then soon was sworn in as a cabinet member: first as defence minister, then foreign secretary, and finally Chancellor of the Exchequer. His then wife, Virginia Makepeace, was proud of him, and when they moved into 12 Downing Street, she nearly burst with excitement. Ah, sweet Virginia. Beautiful, sexy, but dumb. They caught her with amphetamines in the soles of her shoes in Customs. The divorce was quick and saw him return to the backbench for a time. When Maggie was rolled (and he never really forgave them for it, though he remained under their thumb), he retained the Exchequer.

He stood for the leadership after Major bit the dust, but lost by two votes. The new leader squared some deal with Blair to make him Speaker, a role sir Michael played with dignity, probity and fairness. It was a good clip. A firm knowledge of parliamentary procedure, a firm hand and he was able to exact revenge on his enemies. One of his proudest moments was the knighthood. Or maybe becoming a Privy Councillor. A long way from the economics and politics degree he’d received from the LSE.

He occasionally thought back to his youth. The band he’d joined with his primary schoolmate, Keith. They were a blues band, a sound he’d liked, though he really wondered why any Englishman would play it. Muddy Waters was a particular favourite, though he hadn’t listened to it in years. He wondered what might have happened if he’d stuck with it. Keith was still plugging away in a band down Surrey way. It was a little sad, Keith with an old telecaster, playing old licks. Stu would have been there, but he’d died, of natural causes, after running one of the UK’s biggest logistics companies. Charlie was the best musician they’d had, and still did sessions.  Perks (what was his first name?) married some young girl and settled down. And that bum, Jones. What an awful individual.

Sir Michael felt he probably should go down one weekend and sit in with harmonica. After all, it was, when you got down to it, only rock and roll. He liked it. But it would never do, seeing the speaker of the house gallivanting around as a 65 year old, playing rock music. He’d feel foolish, and it was a young mans game.

‘Sir Michael, they’re here.’

‘Thanks, Angie. I’ll be right out.”

Of course, it was his need for companionship, and his high stress job. He must have had 19 nervous breakdowns. Or at least would have, if it wasn’t for the odd spot of cocaine and occasional affair. Chemical enhancement kept him going, and the women were a added bonus of the job. The fateful night came at the end of a hellish week. The press had decided, as they did from time to time, to target him because he’d caught out one of their favourites in the House. This New York divorcee: one of the world’s most prominent women had put him in touch with a professional lady who was supposed to be discreet. But one of her clients, who himself was trying to avoid jail, confessed to the police. All Sir Michael was after was a little Coke and sympathy. The client list was spilled to the press. And now the police were on their way.

He stepped out to the press. He was not going to break down. He’d be a fool to cry.

‘There’s a storm coming’ he said. ‘It’s threatening our very lives today. War, a civil war is just a shot away. While I am paying for a minor mistake, I implore the government and the opposition to not focus on this distraction and keep safety paramount. Before they make me run, let me beseech you, I’m not happy.’

‘Michael Phillip Jagger. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am detective sergeant Michael Taylor’, said the policeman, obviously, thinking Sir Michael,  loving the time in the limelight. ‘You are under arrest for …’ The voice trailed off as Michael tried to fathom what had happened. As he got in the car, he dreaded the cell. Maybe he should have stayed in the band. He remembered Keith’s abuse. ‘You don’t leave here till you die, you moron.” Keith stayed, and while he never really got anywhere, he had stayed true to that vision.

The cell was the worst night he’d had. As he said to Angie, ‘you should have heard them, just around midnight.’ The court was brutal. Stripped of everything, titles, prestige, job and freedom, all he wanted was his precious time. Rolling Stones gathered no moss. And apparently, 100 years ago, he’d have gotten away with it. Now, he was 2000 light years from home. And time waits for no one. It was no longer on his side. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. And sometimes not even that.