While lockups create far more problems than they solve, there is a silver lining as far as your intrepid eyewitness is concerned, which is that they allow more time for the perfection of the Spyfly device. During the last lockup, for example, I was able to increase the range of the signal considerably, meaning that I no longer have to skulk in parliamentary broom cupboards, as I can now watch the proceedings of my choice from the comfort of my home office. This is an immediate advantage in that I no longer need to carry a briefcase with monitoring equipment, a cold pie and pictorial literature of questionable literary value, which I believe are essential apparatus for a successful spy.

I have also created the ability for the fly to switch on at certain trigger sounds and odours, for example, the smell of sausage rolls indicates the presence of Grunt Robbingson, Minister of Te Great Leaping Reset and Sausage Rolls, and the device will immediately begin transmitting.

Just this morning this very occurrence took place, and, on hearing the warning beep, I immediately went to my office to see what particular display of epic ineptitude awaited my sensitive eyes and ears. I could see immediately that Grunt Robbingson had entered Justinda Ardeau’s office, and I noticed the top six inches or so of several sausage rolls protruding from most of his pockets, thus triggering the Spyfly.

“You wanted to see me,” said Grunt, a little testily. Then he stopped in his tracks, displaying symptoms of astonishment. “What’s that parrot in the cage doing there?”

Grunt’s eyes had not deceived him. A large red and green parrot sat in a cage, casting somewhat hostile looks in his direction.

I smiled to myself, as I knew the exact origin of the bird, as will readers who saw the recent account of my professor friend’s experiment with the Ardeau’s DNA.

“I don’t like the way it looks at me,” said Grunt uneasily, producing a fifteen incher from somewhere in his trousers, and biting a large chunk off the end.

 “Forget about the parrot,” snapped Justinda. “I didn’t get you here to talk  about ornith… orthinol… er, birds. I’m wondering when you’re going to publicly have your Covid vaccination. Pressure is building for government ministers to show the public that we are confident in the safety of the vaccine. Chris Hopkins has had his, you know.”

“That little prick!” sputtered Grunt, briefly choking on some sausage roll pastry, “that one he got in his arm delivered merely sugar and water. You don’t for one moment think that any of us are dumb enough to get stuck with an experimental vaccine, do you? Do I look like a guinea pig?”

“A very large one, yes,” responded Justinda. “And I sincerely hope that we can get a long line of ‘dumb’ as you put it, ministers to receive the vaccine. Quite a lot of my flock of five million are not too keen on the idea.”

“How about your public vaccination?” asked Grunt. “Many of your worshippers are waiting for you to set an example.”

Justinda’s eyes became a little misty. “Yes, I do have worshippers, don’t I,” she whispered dreamily. “But, but… well, I’m a little bit nervous about getting it actually. It is just a bit experimental, and there have been some worrying reports… Sugar and water, you say? Did it harm Choppy at all? He’s been acting a bit strangely since he received his prick, I’ve noticed.”

“No change at all,” said Grunt briskly. “He always acts strangely – you know that.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” said Justinda. She perked up. “Well, that’s agreed. Sugar and water it is for us all. Nobody will know any different. Ah yes, we can make a huge production out of this. Me rolling up my sleeve to get the needle, me getting a needle stabbing deep into my arm…” She stopped and her face screwed up as she sobbed, “I don’t like needles, Grunt. I can’t do it.”

“Just do what Joe Hiden did,” said Grunt. “Keep the cap on the syringe and get the nurse to hide it with her hand somehow. Well, if that’s all…”

“No it’s not,” Justinda growled. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about your pretending to never have heard of Te Great Leaping Reset. A lot of people who don’t rely on Covid O’Lyin’ and the other members of my team of  journalists for their news, do know about it. It made you look…” she groped mentally for the word, “Foolish. Ignorant. Foolishly ignorant.”

Grunt shrugged and pulled another sausage roll out of his pocket.. “It’s expected of us, you know,” he said. “But yes, perhaps I should have admitted to knowing about it, and just called it a conspiracy theory. People are terrified of being called conspiracy theorists, even when the conspiracy actually exists.”

“Do you think I should go to Australia to publicise the travel bubble?” Justinda asked. “Lots of photo opportunities there, and I can take Eve to guarantee magazine covers. And maybe I can embarrass their PM while I’m there. It’s too long since I’ve insulted him publicly and President Xi is getting impatient. He hates ScoMo as much as he hates Winnie the Pooh. Incidentally, why does he hate Winnie the Pooh so much, Grunt?”

“He is said by some of his opponents to bear a strong resemblance to the Pooh Bear,” explained Grunt knowledgably. “He does not like to be compared to a harmless children’s book character. It damages his ‘ruthless dictator striking fear into the hearts of humankind’ image.”

“Well,  I never knew that,” said Justinda. “I must throw out all my Winnie the Pooh books. Well, that will be all, thank you Grunt.”

Grunt heaved a sigh of relief and bolted through the door, grabbing another sausage roll from a pocket as he went. As he closed the door he heard the parrot squawk loudly, “Don’t trust him,  don’t trust him…” Justinda looked thoughtfully at the bird as she resumed her seat at her desk.

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