'So, now for plan B,' said Duff, admiring his handwork and setting off to write 'PLAN B' in an equally ornate fashion.
And then Holton-Lacey had an epiphany.
'We don't need to actually start this company,' he explained. 'We'll just use it as a threat.' His plan was that they would tell VastTel about how a new phone company would be started up if Jimi Jones went ahead with his plans. Hopefully, that would be enough for them to think again. Jones might be confident that he could run an efficient phone company whilst VastTel was the only game in town, but what if someone else came along?
'We'll get Woodburner into your office, and threaten competition unless he sacks Jimi Jones.'
'We'll use the c-word at them,' said Holton-Lacey, very pleased with his idea.
He watched the prime minister write the c-word alongside Plan B.
'No, not that c-word!' said Holton-Lacey. 'I meant competition. We'll threaten them with competition. We'll get Woodburner into your office, and threaten competition unless he sacks Jimi Jones.'
Duff was too busy trying to remove the c-word from his large sheet of paper to be paying much attention. He didn't want his wife to see what he'd written, and was scribbling over it with a large felt-tip pen so vigorously that it went through to the kitchen table, leaving the c-word silhouetted in indelible ink on the imported Italian mahogany surface.
Duff could see the sense in Holton-Lacey's plan, when it was explained to him again, much slower, the second time. They would threaten Woodburner with competition, unless he removed Jones from his post, he got that. And not just ordinary competition, but government-funded competition, so the usual rules of commerce wouldn't apply.
'Will it work?' asked Duff.
'Well, we could sweeten the deal,' suggested Holton-Lacey. Almost immediately, an idea sprang into his head. Another one. It surprised him. He knew he was inventive, far more than the prime minister ever imagined, but even for him, the ideas were springing up fast today.
'Woodburner is a TV man, right?' he said. 'We'll offer him a licence. We'll give him a new TV network, provided he agrees to sack Jimi Jones.'
Duff liked it. The threat of a competitor and the offer of a new TV network, on which he could run the same old crap he ran on the other networks, just slightly older reruns. How could Woodburner refuse?
A new TV network, where he could run the same old crap — just slightly older reruns. How could he refuse?
'So, let me summarise,' said Duff, who had stuck paper glue over the heading PLAN A and was now sprinkling a tube of glitter over it.
'There's Plan A,' he said, wishing he'd written more than just the heading, because the rest of it had already slipped his mind.
'And plan B is ... c***,' he said a little confused.
Holton-Lacey suggested that the prime minister leave it all for him to handle.
'You might want to get rid of the document,' he added. 'We wouldn't want it to fall into the wrong hands.'
Duff agreed and stuck the whole thing in the paper shredder, which quickly became clogged by the sticky mess of glue and glitter.
'Well, that was a most excellent session,' said Duff, the two men congratulating each other on their grand master plan.
As they finished up, Duff's wife emerged. She was a little surprised to see her husband there; he was supposed to be at a hospital opening. There was a new bed being added to the Maternity Ward at the Royal North Harbour Hospital. She had slipped on her sexiest negligee that was completely transparent, except for a small area that covered her belly button. By the time she realised Duff was still there, she was already in the room.
'Hello, darling,' she said timidly.
'Good morning, darling,' said Duff and Holton-Lacey in unison.
The Incumbent is Phil Dobbie's first novel and these excerpts have been used with his permission. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. To purchase the entire novel in digital format, click here. It is also available in printed format ... for more details click here.