Slouching wearily in an uncomfortable wooden chair, Seumas Milne stared vacantly at the faded orange Formica clock on the kitchen wall. It read three thirty two. It had read three thirty two since the year nineteen eighty seven.
Jeremy had refused to replace it. It was a Ruhla, lovingly crafted by joyous and cherished members of the DDR’s proletariat. Crafted using the means of production they had snatched from the clutches of the bosses and racketeers. The old man was unwilling to concede that anything manufactured under the glorious communist stewardship of Erich Honecker could possibly be defective. So on the kitchen wall it had stayed, frozen in a bygone era.
Jeremy sat opposite him, feverishly rifling through a stack of papers. The kitchen table was strewn with empty tins, soiled cutlery and used tissues.
Milne had endured some dark, lonely weeks during lockdown. His entire world had been shrunken into three sparse, cheerless rooms – Jeremy’s living room, kitchen and bathroom.
In the early days, the privilege of caring full time for one of the greatest socialist minds Britain has ever produced was its own reward. But as the days became long and drawn out, the conversations grew increasingly repetitive and the bowel movements more regular and volcanic, he had begun to question his purpose in life. The glorious socialist revolution that had seemed within touching distance less than a year ago now seemed all but lost for good. Mossad had conspired to have Jeremy expelled from the party. There was nothing to do. Not even Lammy and Burgon burst in any more to ask him if he had any spare batteries for their Tomytronic 3-Ds. Was it finally time to let go of the dream?
But now he felt embarrassed and ashamed at this lapse in faith.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, they were back in business. The Labour NEC had seen through the spurious assertions of the so-called Equality and Human Rights Commission. The Jews, mused Milne, had been caught out crying wolf yet again.
Now the extremist right wing interloper Keir Starmer’s days were numbered. Jeremy would no longer be sidelined as that capitalist puppet tore down and sabotaged the progress of socialism. They would rally the Momentum faithful and mount another leadership challenge. Jeremy would crush Starmer like he had crushed Owen Smith. The loudhailers of Owen Jones, Aaron Bastani and Ash Sarkar would fill the streets of Britain with messages of hope once again. It was Jeremy’s party. Not Keir Starmer’s party, not Lisa Nandy’s party and definitely not the Jews’ party.
His train of thought was derailed by a high pitched whining.
‘Are you sure these are all the policies we were going to discuss, Seumas?’ bleated Corbyn, peering up at him with his gleaming, bird-like eyes.
‘Yes, Jeremy,’ sighed Milne. ‘They’re all there. Everything from the 72 Genders Recognition Act to nationalising the sea. It’s all there.’
‘But I can’t find the Free Laptops for Climate Refugees Act, Seumas,’ he whined, his rifling becoming more desperate. ‘That’s one of my favourites.’
‘It’s up on the fridge,’ replied Milne, blankly. ‘You drew a portrait of Rosa Luxemburg on the back of it with your crayons, remember?’
Corbyn furrowed his brow and stared at the fridge. A crude stick figure rendered in red and black wax crayon stared back. His frown gave way to a look of bewilderment and despair.
‘I…I don’t remember, Seumas,’ he whimpered. ‘I don’t remember.’
‘Never mind, Jeremy,’ said Milne, forcing an upbeat tone. ‘We all forget things from time to time.’
He rose, walked around the table and carefully pulled the old man’s wheelchair away from the table.
‘Anyway, there’s no time to worry about that now,’ he continued. ‘It’s time for your cabinet meeting. They’re all waiting for you, Prime Minister.’
He wheeled Corbyn through into the dingy living room. The ragged curtains were drawn. They had been drawn since the year nineteen eighty three. The carpet was worn. The sofa and armchair were threadbare. Dust clung to everything.
A bare lightbulb hanging from the ceiling illuminated fifteen yellow helium balloons, all with smiling faces drawn on them in permanent marker. They were weighed down with string tied to pieces of stone and brick Milne had gathered from the front garden.
This was Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet. It had been Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet since March 2020.
© DH 2020
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file