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Exercises In Formality

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When the last of the passengers from the Washington DC flight was out of the exit, David emerged with his security people, looking every inch the proper Prime Minister. This image was quickly dispelled when his girlfriend Natalie threw herself at him, causing him to stumble back and grab hold of her arse to support her. There was a positive explosion of flash bulbs from the photographers present and a smattering of applause from those members of the public who had stopped to see what was going on, hoping for a glimpse of some big Hollywood celebrity.

"God, you weigh a lot," gasped David, then kissed her thoroughly. 

They left the airport terminal hand in hand.

“What have you been up to while I've been engaged in extremely polite combat with the Prez? Not pining away from missing me, I imagine.”

“Of course I missed you, you daft git! Annie's been trying to teach me about protocol and hosting diplomatic receptions and dinners and things. She keeps telling me I need to be more formal and I'm ever so bad at it!"

"Not at all! I for one very much appreciate your formality."

"Oh fuck, I did it again, didn't I? Annie's going to be really cross with me!”

"Maybe a practice run will help. We'll have a nice formal dinner with our families - my sister and her husband, my other brother-in-law Daniel - I understand he has a girlfriend now, so we'll invite her too, and your parents." He turned to his driver-cum-security guard. "Get my assistant to see to that will you, Terry - the next evening I'm free? Thanks."

Terry made a mental note, and when they got back to Downing Street, he passed the message on to Annie, David's assistant. She delegated the job to her assistant, who delegated the job to his assistant and so on down the line until it landed on the shoulders of someone junior enough to do the job. Unfortunately by that time the instructions had become somewhat muddled, and when the replies came back up the chain, Annie went to the Prime Minster looking rather embarrassed.

"I'm sorry sir, but somehow the invitation went out to everyone in the family of the people you wanted to invite, so in addition to the guests we were expecting we've got your sister's two children, your nephew Sam, your brother-in law's girlfriend's son, Sam's American girlfriend and all of Natalie's family."

"I see. Well, the more the merrier, and having the kids here will mean you'll get practice in coping with a typical bunch of heads of state in one room, Nat! And what's this about Sam having a girlfriend? He's starting young - good for him! I'll have to give him some friendly advice."

"The poor kid!" Natalie shook her head sadly, then squealed as David started tickling her in retaliation.  


The evening of the dinner, things were going very well, Natalie had no trouble keeping the conversation going, particularly since Karen seemed determined that there shouldn't be the slightest moment of silence; somewhat to her surprise she'd managed not to let slip any word that Annie would have found objectionable. Most of the other adults joined in when they could get a word in edgeways, apart from Natalie's dad, who was his usual quiet self, and Karen's husband Harry, who seemed somewhat uncomfortable, answering Natalie in monosyllables when she tried to draw him out. The children were a bit subdued, but Natalie managed to get them laughing with the help of David, even Karen's son Bernard, who had appeared bored and somewhat mutinous.

When the appetizer had been cleared away and they were waiting for the main course, Karen turned her attention to Joanna, who had spent the evening exchanging smiles with Sam. "How long have you been back in England, Joanna? Are you going to be staying long?"

"I've been here for about two weeks now. I'm going to be at Sam's school again this semester... I mean term. I'm really looking forward to it!" She smiled at Sam again, who blushed as he smiled back.

Bernard rolled his eyes, and was nudged by his mother, who muttered "Behave yourself!" then carried on talking to the company. "Harry just came back from America too, didn't you darling?"

"Oh, er, yes I did. I was over there for a while recently. My firm is going into partnership with an American firm that's in the same line of work, so I went over there to iron out some teething troubles. Purely for business, of course."

Karen smiled sweetly. "Of course. Harry's going to be sending one of his staff over there to liaise between the two firms. She's really the best person for the job, isn't that right, darling?"

"Yes, absolutely, I mean... er, yes." Harry tugged nervously at his collar, looking around as if seeking an exit. 

Natalie's mum spoke up. “Well, there's a coincidence! Did I tell you, Nat, Mia-next-door is working for a firm that's just gone into partnership with a US firm, and she's moving over there to be the go-between? She's really looking forward to it – says she's going to get a rich American boyfriend. Maybe you know her, Harry?”

"Actually, he knows her very well," Karen replied. "Don't you, darling?"

Harry had gone bright red. "She's the employee in question," he muttered. 

An awkward silence descended, broken by Natalie's mum asking her in a stage whisper, "Did I say something wrong, love?"

David looked at his sister. "Should I be calling the SAS?" he asked.

Fortunately at this point the catering staff arrived with the main course, putting a temporary halt to any conversation while everyone was served. 

Bernard looked at his plate in disgust. "What is this stuff?"

"The cook told me it's beef with a fancy mushroom sauce," Natalie told him. "The veggies are courgettes and carrots, and I'm not sure what they've done with the potatoes. They look a bit weird, don't they?"

"Well I can't stand carrots and it all looks horrible and I don't want any of it!"

"Bernard! Don't be so rude! Just eat it!" his mother hissed at him. 

Bernard scowled and prodded at the food suspiciously. 

Natalie winked at him conspiratorially. "Tell you what, Bernie - your mum told me about that essay you wrote about farts. I thought that was really funny. Why don't we pretend that every bite we eat will make someone we don't like fart?"

Bernard looked interested. "OK then - but you've got to start!" 

"Right, here goes! This one's for my old maths teacher!" She stabbed a carrot with her fork. As it happened, the carrot was cooked so lightly that it was still hard, and shot off the plate. It landed in David's wine glass, splashing red wine over his new white shirt. "Oh shit, I'm sorry! Let me try and get that off quick!" She got up and picked up her glass of water and napkin, and hurried towards David. In her haste, she forgot she was wearing a long dress for the first time in her life, tripped over the hem and fell flat on her face. "Ow! Fuck, fuck, fuck!" She sat up, her face crimson, buried her head in her hands and said, "Oh piss, I'm bloody hopeless at formality, aren't I?" 

David started laughing. "Nat, I absolutely adore you! Don't ever change!"

Bernard said, “Uncle David, does that mean you're going to marry Natalie? Because she'd be an amazing aunt!”

There was a moment's stunned silence around the table, broken by Karen shushing her son and telling him that it wasn't any of his business. Natalie was looking everywhere except at David.

David, however, was looking quite thoughtful. “You know, Nat, that isn't a bad idea. Not just for being Bernard's aunt, though God knows Karen needs all the help she can get with the little horror, but I'd rather like you to be my wife. How about it?”

With a squeal, Natalie threw herself onto David's lap, kissing him enthusiastically. China and cutlery were scattered everywhere, ignored by attendants and guests alike.

When they came up for air, David said, “I'll assume that was a 'yes', then.”

“Of course it was, you idiot!”

The whole room burst into applause.


Annie arrived on the scene as soon as the guests had departed. “I hear that congratulations are due on your engagement,” were the first words out of her mouth.

“Bloody hell," David replied, "I know gossip here spreads like wildfire, but we hardly know about it ourselves yet! Thank you, anyway.”

"Now, we need to start planning the wedding straight away. The electorate loves Natalie, so if we time it straight after you call the next General Election, your popularity rating should be high enough that you'll be re-elected with no trouble."

"Wait a minute! I'm marrying Nat because I love her, and I don't want our wedding turned into some publicity stunt to get me elected - it's not fair to her and I'm not going to do it!"

"It's all right David, I don't mind, honestly." 

"Well I do, and I'm not having it!"

“Look, you like being Prime Minister, don't you?”

Well, on the whole I have to admit I do.”

"So as your fiancee, I should help you get re-elected then, shouldn't I? And if Annie thinks it's a good idea to have the wedding just before the election, then that's what we'll do!"

"If you're sure you don't mind..."

"Great! It's settled then!" Annie lost no time in getting down to business. "Why not have it at Westminster Abbey or St Paul's? We can get the Archbishop of Canterbury to perform the ceremony..."

Natalie started to look worried.

"Steady on, let's not get too carried away here. People will think I'm getting a bit above myself! We can do it in Wandsworth at Nat's local church - is there one that's got room for all the bigwigs and press as well as the people we actually want there, Nat?"

"But if the Queen comes, we need to have something a bit more formal than that, don't you think?"

"We're never going to invite the Queen!" 

"I suppose we ought to, darling, since I have to go and see her every week to discuss affairs of state. But if we're lucky she'll be doing one of her Royal Visits and won't be able to come. Not that she isn't a very pleasant person, of course - in fact I think you'd quite like her." 

“What if I say 'fuck' when I'm talking to her?”

“Believe me, she'll find you as much of a breath of fresh air as I do. Actually, now I think about it, maybe we should time the wedding for when she's off on a visit because she might want to marry you herself, and I don't think I'm allowed to have Her Majesty killed - I think the SAS like her better than me! And while I'm on the subject of having the SAS kill people, we have to invite the US President, so I can go 'nyah nyah nyah' at him, and he'll have to bring his wife, which means we can enjoy watching him shit his pants worrying about what we might let drop in front of her.”



 The Prime Minister was married yesterday at All Saints Church in Wandsworth. A star-studded list of guests were present, including the Queen and Prince Philip, and the President of the United States and his wife. The ceremony itself went off without a hitch until the bride threw the bouquet rather wildly, hitting the President over the head. She was then heard to exclaim "Oh f*** I didn't mean to do that!" Her new husband found this highly amusing, as did Prince Philip, and I'm told the Queen had to hide a smile. Her Majesty was obviously taken with Natalie when they were introduced, and Prince Philip insisted on talking with her for a while. My source tells me that the Prime Minister was muttering something about calling the SAS and having someone killed, but I'm sure they misheard.


We all send our best wishes to the happy couple and hope they have a nice restful honeymoon before starting the campaign for the upcoming General Election. We understand the Prime Minister's popularity rating has been steadily increasing since his engagement was announced, and at present he appears to be almost unbeatable.