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Basil

March 20, 2021

I’m currently working my way though what I hope will be the final edit of a novel I wrote in 2017 called Investing in the Afterlife, Inc.. The novel was a vehicle to talk about the sickening situation that confronted America after Donald Trump was voted into power in 2016. Though Investing in the Afterlife, Inc. is primarily about the US, there are a sub-cast of characters called the English, who are modelled on people in right-wing UK politics, some of whom are or were in the Cabinet. This is Basil:

Corpulent and mercenary, Basil was still the public schoolboy caught funnelling the proceeds of the fourth form tuckshop into his greedy, bottomless pockets. He grinned his man-child grin and milked his blow-dried duckling look, as though a chortle and a bumbled fib could clear him of all charges. There were people who adored him but no one trusted him, and he was used by one and all as a diversionary tactic, not least by himself. He hid behind a facade of belittling smarm while calculating how the situation could be used for political or capital gain, though his political acumen was dubious and his ability to capitalise on a situation was laughable. Only his shamelessness kept him in the game.

Basil chipped in. “You can build on our lawn, if you like. We’ll sell you the whole thing for a pittance. Build whatever you like, as tall as you like.”

Goss snuffled down his nose. Basil reminded him of a children’s entertainer he’d seen as a kid. He’d given the guy a punch in the testicles, just for fun. “And?”
“I just wanted you to know. I’m a natural salesman. I’ll sell you anything you want. You name it, I’ll sell it to you. I’m so proud to be British, I’ll sell the whole country to the highest bidder.”

The English were basking in deckchairs on the porch of their mansion, mulling over the tea and cake that had appeared on a fold-away card table.
“Are you having that cake, Basil?”
“I won’t just have the cake, I’m going to eat it as well.”
“Surely, that’s the same thing.”
“Not at all. One involves having the cake. The other involves eating the cake.”
“But once you’ve had the cake, how can you go on to eat it, too?”
“Because my plan is to have the cake, and eat it.”
“But how can you plan for something you can’t do?”
“Because that’s my plan. And I’m going to stick to it, whether it’s possible or not.”
“But doesn’t a plan have to be possible in order to be a proper plan?”
“I have sovereignty over the cake. If I want to have the cake and eat it, I shall do, and I won’t let the bureaucrats and cakeist deniers stop me.”
“I fully support your cake sovereignty. It’s just that I can’t understand how you can have your cake and eat it.
“We didn’t fight two World Wars and build an Empire in order for me not to have cake, and not to eat it. We need to take back control of the cake. It’s the People’s Cake. We are going to put the metropolitan pen-pushing elite back in their place before they take the Great British Cake and give it to some entitled migrant cockroach who hasn’t paid taxes.”
“I can just picture those arrogant faceless elite. But I have to ask, is there one cake or two? One that you would have, the other you would eat?”
“You know, the biggest obstacle that blocks us from having our cake and eating it is moaners like you undermining confidence, talking the cake down. You’re Project Fear, that’s what you are. Tell him, Ruth.
”Ruth leaned across, “We will have the cake and eat it by a predetermined date which can’t be revoked, whether we like the cake or not.”
But no one ate the cake. Or had it.

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