…Tony’s been ripped off by a taxi driver…he reaches his hotel…there’s no red carpet……the continuing story of the man who thinks he’s the PM, deposed, and desperate to restart his political career by reaching the kids…
I battered the hotel door open with my suitcase and then tripped over massed luggage left behind the door. I landed, sprawling with the ceiling spinning above me. My baseball cap fell off. I saw large men in gun-metal coloured suits standing at a bar, with steel briefcases chained to their wrists. They wore pointed, steel-tipped boots. They were staring at me, an army of Johnny Prescotts, deputy PMs, offended I hadn’t turned into a toad and crawled away from them. I swallowed hard and smoothed the side of my suitcase.
“All right in there, little fella?”
I saw myself reflected in a pair of polished shoes. There were creases in a pair of tartan trousers and a tartan jacket. Even the tartan buttons had creases. A man was looking down at me. The man cracked his knuckles.
“Welcome to the Hotel Machiavellian. Can I be of any assistance, or can you stand up for yourself, sir?”
“I could use some food and drink.”
“The restaurant is closed at this time of the evening, sir.”
“What? Okay. Right. Do you know where the nearest MacDonald’s is?”
“The nearest what, sir?”
I stood up and looked round. The Hotel Machiavellian was very smart, but it should have been called the Tartan Hotel. It was decked out with the heads of various animals. There was a surplus of tartan, a riot of tartan, a whole Hogmanay of tartan light shades, and a tartan-topped reception desk. I walked over to the reception desk, swaggering defiantly in front of the steel briefcases, adjusting my baseball cap. They didn’t know they were playing with fire. The uniformed man hurried round behind the desk.
“I hope you enjoyed your journey, sir. I am the manager. Is there anything wrong with your leg, sir?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with my leg. This is the way I walk. Blair’s the name, Tony Blair.”
The manager raised his eyebrows.
“Well really. Look, I received a letter instructing me to come to the Hotel Machiavellian. And here I am. I was wondering if there was anyone here to meet me, as promised?”
The manager inspected a clipboard.
He pushed a tartan booking-in card in front of me.
“Would you care to fill this in, Mr. Blair, sir.”
“Some tartan theme you have going here.”
“It’s for the oil men, sir.”
“Oh well, son of a gun. I guess oil will be revealed in good time.”
I laughed. The manager cracked his elbows. He didn’t laugh. I signed the card and collected my key, straightening my ski jacket, which I’d ripped in the fall, and pushed up the peak of my baseball cap. The manager pulled his tartan cuffs down.
“Would you like to visit our tourist information suite in the morning, Mr. Blair, sir? Just by reception. I’m sure you’ll find everything you’re looking for there.”
“Sure thing, buster.”
“Buster. It’s a happening term of endearment amongst the young, old buddy. Gag-a-lag-a-lag. Get on with it daddio. It’s called modernity. D’ya watch Big Brother?”
“I…er you know, just wondered who’d been evicted tonight you see, that’s why.”
Tony Blair: The Wilderness Years ISBN 1-4196-0573-9
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