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#a225 :: House of Commons hip flask

September 26, 2008

ENLARGEJust a nip.

He wondered – as he idly did in these customary moments when he stole a drink just after lunch in the House of Lords dining room, doctor between a trip to the loo and the afternoon session – whether the cameras would see him.

Surely they did. London was positively filthy with CCTV cameras. The flat, page disapproving eyes of post-9/11 paranoia swallowed every godawfully boring detail of the city’s yawning, nose-picking existence. Somewhere, legions of poor sods sat before screens watching all of it.

The House of Commons, even more so.

It was getting so he pondered his own every move – whose hands he shook from the other side of the house, whether he recycled his soda bottle, what magazines he read on the toilet. The compound eye of surveillance saw, the great bloody eye of Sauron.

And while he knew these were manned by spotty security trainees under the tutelage of washed-up career thugs for whom this was the very last posting – neither class of which gave a wrinkly-scrotal toss about anything short of the screams of swarthy, sweating wogs with leaky gym bags full of C4 and medical radioactive waste sprinting towards whatever destiny and certain glory they imagined in the arms of the first copper to tackle them – he always grew self-conscious just after lunch. Someone might see.

There was a blind spot in the hallway between where camera covering the cafeteria entrance left off and the elevator-bay camera picked up, and here is where he stopped.

Every day. Tick-tock.

Uncap, little slug of the Dalwhinnie -smooth as silk.

Deep breath, a look around – another swig of courage and once he’d capped the flask and tucked it back into his boot, he had the strength to listen to that chap from York drone on for another half-hour about the spiritual duty that Commons bore to the farm subsidies.

Tick. Bleeding. Tock.

And suddenly, there was the janitor – the hunched little West indian fellow, who wheezed and blew into his mustache and conversed with himself in two completely separate voices when he thought no one was looking.

And here he was, pewter flask full of scotch to his lips. Bugger it. Damn. And blast.

The MP winked. God help him, he actually winked at the little chap.

Who just stood there. Staring. Inscrutably.

Tick.

He exhaled, took another drink and smoothly screwed the cap back onto the slip pewter flask.

Tock.

Cheesy little thing, really, stamped with the portcullis emblem and “House of Commons.”
But it did fit nicely into the sort of Italian-made slip-boots he’d favored ever since the swinging 70s, and it was sturdy and capacious – even if it did sell mostly to tourists who were routed through the closet-like House of Commons gift shop with all their bloody dollars and marks and yen and lire in tow.

He nodded at the janitor. “Be seeing you!”

Christ, now he was quoting “The Prisoner.” The janitor stared back, shaking his head.

He’d seen this fellow before, chatting animatedly with the PM from one of the tonier west-end districts, a Pakistani fellow – Labor, of course – who had often voted against him and rather condescended to him in speaking before doing so.

Great. Now the right Hon. Parmahansa Rajasthani, Esq. would know, and he’d give him that irritating little cock of the eyebrow probably thrice as often when debating a measure.

Lovely. What next. Onward. That’s what.

He stalked briskly past the janitor, with a musical little “Morning!” and headed upstairs for the vote.

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