David Cameron sat twiddling his thumbs. Through the window he could see the morning sun shine on the slopes of the nearby wooded mountain. Lawn sprinklers arced mini rainbows across the plush green lawn. Cameron was enjoying Colleague Borisov’s retreat. The stunning views of the depopulated countryside contrasted with the Spartan interior furnishings favoured by Bulgaria’s greatest living statesman.
Cameron had found five newly pressed Superman suits in the master bedroom wardrobe. In every room fitness machines awaited the return of their owner, like so many reproachful pet Borzois deprived of their daily walk.
Being Prime Minister of Bulgaria was turning out to be a piece of cake. Boyko had been quite right. A photo opportunity a day keeps the opposition at bay. So in order to show that he was getting to grips with the Health Service, Cameron had dressed up in a white coat and rubber gloves. The headline had read: The Man from London says no to cockroaches.
And those Bulgarian journalists were so pretty – Boyko called them kittens. They were nothing like those British harridans. The most taxing question he’d had to field was whether he wanted to ban tripe soup.
Colleague Borisov had been right about the cabinet too. You wouldn’t have found a more terrified bunch of creatures in a Turkey farm before Christmas or a liberal democrat conference. All he had to do was to mime picking up a phone and tapping on the table and the ministers turned white.
Boyko’s ex-girlfriend had introduced him to the people who really mattered. What a lovely weekend he’d spent in a lakeside development near Haskovo, discussing privatizing Customs and Excise.
The interior Minister, Tsvetanov, a fellow with a face as long as a Bassett hound’s, had been worried about some upcoming demonstration in Sofia. Cameron had taken a few hours to explain the simple technique of kettling. You trap the demonstrators in some square and keep them there for hours on end. Was it possible for a Bassett Hound to look happy? Tsvetanov had pulled out a map and a mobile phone.
On Friday he’d dropped into Parliament to find it half empty. Apparently a lot of MPs had decided to attend some religious event in the centre of Sofia. There’d been a long rambling question from a fellow conservative involving a lot of economic theory he’d never read. He hoped he’d made the right noises. Then a man with pink cheeks whose lack of enthusiasm suggested he suffered from severe constipation got up to demand his resignation.
There had been a bit of a stir later in the day when an angry little man with a shock of white hair like a badger’s, marched into the chamber and straight to the podium, waving a photograph of a clearly distressed woman and a laundry bill. The ensuing confrontation was etched in Cameron’s memory.
White haired demagogue: Who’s going to pay Bitka Patriotka’s laundry bill, you Bosphoros Turd!
Cameron: (confused) Who? What? Where?
White haired demagogue: That’s right pretend you don’t know anything about your bashebazouks, you janissary! You ought to be wearing a fez.
Cameron: (trying for his most effective phrase) Calm down dear.
White haired demagogue: That’s right, treat us like Australians you patronizing Topkapi whore! I tell you, I’ll be at your throat every day like a Bulgarian lion until you pay this laundry bill.
Cameron: I thought MPs could afford laundry bills.
White haired demagogue: You sit there like a harem eunuch and pretend that this isn’t your fault. My MP was doing her patriotic duty. She was setting out to clear Sofia of terrorists, wailing Mullahs, prayer mats and agents of a non European power. Your police, your Bashebazouks held her up in the metro underpass for three hours.
Cameron: I still don’t understand.
White haired demagogue: Do I need to spell it out? She likes beer and Bulgarian tomatoes.
The session had ended in uproar as a bearded representative of the Turkish Minority arrived to express undying gratitude to Cameron as a worthy successor to that famous friend of Turkey, Disraeli.
To be compared to Disraeli – that would be one in the eye for the Daily Mail back home. He felt like raising a glass so he rang a bell and a bald headed ex-wrestler bustled in, knocking over a coffee table on the way. As a butler he lacked Jeeves’ ability to shimmer, but he understood a crisp order for a glass of cognac.
The phone rang.