Ivory Tower: In their Westminster bubble the two ministers prepare for Halloween
Tier two flatshare buddies and ministers for universities and science, Michelle Donelan and Amanda Solloway are preparing for another night in…
Mandy: Wow, that’s a great costume.
Micky: What is?
Mandy: The Morticia Adams look.
Micky: I don’t have a costume.
Mandy: You mean you Zoomed the Independent HE conference like that?
Micky: No, I sent them a pre-recorded message, I always look like this.
Mandy: Most people grow out of their Goth phase.
Micky: I was never a Goth.
Mandy [mumbling]: No, it would have been too much like fun.
Micky: What was that?
Mandy: Nothing, when are you getting dressed up?
Micky: I’ve told you. I disapprove of it.
Micky: It’s nothing but spoiled brats fighting over who gets the best treats and trying to scare everyone else out of their wits.
Mandy: Enough about Westminster, what about Halloween?
Micky: I’m not doing it this year. People should stay home and protect the NHS.
Mandy: By never using it.
Micky: There will be no kids coming up to this apartment and besides we don’t have anything to give them.
Mandy: I’ve got lots of things. I love Halloween. I’ve got lots of sweets, spooky cobwebs, and I’ve got two pumpkins for us to carve…
Micky: I am not carving a pumpkin. I’d look like Liz Truss trying to get her Blue Peter badge.
Mandy: If I told you it was a festive gourd from Waitrose, would you do it then?
Micky: I’d rather do a round of media interviews on free school meals.
Mandy: Cheer up Michelle, Hallow’s Eve is one of the best nights of the year.
Micky: And what would you be doing tonight if you weren’t bubbled up in Westminster?
Mandy: In Derby North, all the local youths gather in the streets and light fires.
Micky: You’re thinking of the fifth of November.
Mandy: No, I’m thinking of a Saturday night in Derby.
Micky: And where is your costume?
Mandy: It’s arriving any moment now by courier. I’m dressing up as one of my science heroes.
Micky: Newton? Ada Lovelace?
Mandy: Better than that, Mary Curry.
Micky: Marie Curie? Marie Skłodowska Curie?
Mandy: Marie who?
Micky: Marie Skłodowska Curie, Polish and naturalised-French physicist and chemist, two-time winner of the Noble Prize.
Micky: Did you think she was called Mary?
Mandy: French? But she’s played by Rosamund Pike in that thing we watched.
Mandy: No, it was on Amazon Prime.
Micky: Don’t know what Dom will make of you dressing up as a Polish scientist. Coming over here, discovering our elements.
Mandy: Maybe I could tweak it, say I’m Theresa May or something. Can I borrow your leather trousers?
Mickey: Don’t bother, no one is going to see you.
[There is a knock on the door]
Mandy: Who’s that? Didn’t they get the note about mingling?
Micky: Priti was very clear on that.
[The door opens]
Boris: Look, I’m getting a bit old to climb up the drainpipe. Why don’t you just give me a key… oh, sorry wrong flat.
Mandy: Is that the prime minister or is someone dressed up as the honey monster?
Boris: Ladies forgive me. I was just looking for the ministry of defence.
Micky: We would invite you in Boris, but you know the rules on household mingling.
Boris: Always get away before the husband returns from work?
Micky: No, the tier two rules on social contact.
Boris: Yes, of course, I know those. Hi five indoors, rule of six after 10pm, but only in zones four and five, and not on Wednesday if you are a party donor, they are immune. Is that right?
Micky: Close enough.
Mandy: Since you’re hear can I just ask you, for a friend, what do we think about Poles these days?
Boris: Gosh, is it that flat? I really must be lost.
Micky: What Amanda is trying to ask is, can she join European research next year?
Boris: She’s one of those ERG blighters?
Mandy: Do you know who Marie Skłodowska Curie is?
Boris: Mary who? I wasn’t even there. Evgeny has many interesting people at his parties. I can’t be expected to…
Micky: She is a Noble winner.
Boris: Like Claire Fox?
Mandy: She’s a European scientist.
Boris: Claire Fox? I’m pretty sure that’s not right.
[There’s a knock on the door and Dominic Cummings enters]
Dom: Stay seated, earthlings.
Mandy: Wow, that’s a great costume.
Mandy: Your Gollum outfit is so realistic.
Dom: It’s called a gilet.
Micky: I’m not sure you should come inside the flat.
Dom: I have tier one status.
Dom: I have been granted degree awarding powers by the Office for Students. I am now officially an educational setting, so the rule of six no longer applies to me.
Micky: One rule for him…
Mandy: Does that make you a one-man university?
Dom: I am a higher education provider, from now on you can call me DCU, I’m even eligible for QR funding.
Micky: Well, you can certainly lecture people.
Dom: Why are you dressed as Morticia Adams?
Micky: For the last time…
Boris: Maybe, I should go, rule of six and all that.
Mandy: But there are only four of us.
Boris: Gosh, Rishi makes this counting thing look so easy.
Dom: Prime minister, I didn’t see you there. I didn’t think knocking on doors was your thing.
Boris: No, I never did like canvassing.
Dom: I’m just here to drop off a red box for Amanda. If you could sign everything inside, I’ll take it away with me. No need to read any of it, just boring old red tape.
Mandy: Give it here.
Micky: Aren’t you going to check what you’re signing?
Dom: Boris doesn’t.
Boris: I don’t.
Mandy: What’s this right at the bottom? Funding request for DCU lunar campus?
Dom: You know our space programme?
Boris: Hands, face, space, I’ve got that one. Took ages to remember.
Mandy: If you leave the box here, I’ll return it in the morning.
Micky: I think she wants to work out if it’s a trick or a treat.
Dom: Right Boris, let’s go. I’ve got to scare the hell out of Matt Hancock.
Boris: Are we going out for Halloween?
Dom: No, I’m going to tell him, he’ll be the first to give evidence at the public enquiry.
Micky: Ah well, another quiet night in. I miss visitors.
Mandy: Don’t worry, I’ve organised Zoom guising with Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty.
Micky: Go on, the earlier we begin the sooner we’ll get it over with.
Mandy: I’ll dial them up. Let me see, just click this link…connect with video…there’s Patrick…connect with audio…Paddy, trick or treat?
Paddy: Mandeeee, you know I’m the treat.
Paddy: Michelle, that’s a great costume.
Micky: Don’t even say it.
Mandy: And what are you dressed as, Paddy?
Micky: Stanley Tucci?
Mandy: Patrick Stewart?
Paddy: Sexy Bruce Willis scientist.
Mandy: Gosh, Armageddon!
Micky: Sorry Patrick, we’re losing you, the connection’s gone. [Closes laptop] Minister control yourself.
Mandy: Spoilsport. What are we going to do now?
Micky: Time for Strictly?
Mandy: Is Priti Patel on Newsnight?
Micky: No, it’s the Strictly Halloween special, and Jacqui Smith is on with Anton Du Beke.
Mandy: She’s living the dream.
Micky: The highlight of any political career.
Mandy: Want to carve a pumpkin in the shape of Gavin Williamson later?
Micky: After Anton, open the Prosecco and Haribo first.