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Micky & Mandy: fixed penalty

Images: Gareth Milner [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr; Richard Townshend [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. By GraceEliz for Research Professional News

Ivory Tower: things get out of control in our Westminster flat share sitcom

In their lockdown bubble ministers for universities and science, Michelle Donelan and Amanda Solloway are preparing for another night in…

Micky: That’s a big shop.

Mandy: Just a few bits.

Micky: It’s almost as if we were expecting guests.

Mandy: Not really.

Micky: Not really?

Mandy: They’re not guests if it is work.

Micky: Work? Is that allowed?

Mandy: Isn’t it? I thought you were supposed to work from home.

Micky: Not with other people.

Mandy: But workers can come into your house, right?

Micky: Like plumbers and cleaners.

Mandy: But they are workers.

Micky: I guess so.

Mandy: Not guests but workers, so it’s alright.

Micky: Is it?

Mandy: I don’t know, it’s so confusing.

Micky: Who is it?

Mandy: Just a few people from BEIS.

Micky: One or two civil servants?

Mandy: three or four, five at a push.

Micky: That’s a meeting!

Mandy: It’s a work meeting, though, so it’s fine.

Micky: I don’t know about this Mands.

[The doorbell rings]

Mandy: That will be them. Come in everyone: Brian, Karen, Alex, Tristam, Bobbie, Evan, Margaret…

Micky: How many are there?

Mandy: Liam, Mary, Kwasi…

Micky: Kwasi? I didn’t know you were coming, secretary of state.

Kwasi: It’s this R&D roadmap thing, very important, need to be part of the discussion. Hope you don’t mind, I’ve brought along a couple, well three, special advisers.

Micky: Three?

Kwasi: This is Justin, this is Holly, and this is Claire.

Mandy: Come in everyone, close the door, there’s wine and nibbles in the kitchen, help yourselves before we get started.

Micky: Mands, I’m really not sure about this. Maybe we should open a window or something.

Mandy: It’s government business.

Micky: So was Barnard Castle.

[The doorbell rings]

Micky: What now?

Delivery man: Mrs. Solloway? We’ve brought the big screen and the chairs that you’ve ordered.

Micky: Chairs?

Mandy: People can’t sit on the floor can they. Yes, come in, set it up over there.

Delivery man: This way fellas. This is Charlie, Bill and Sandy. I’m Geoff by the way.

Micky: It’s only a two-bedroom flat.

Delivery man: We’ll be very discreet Mrs Solloway, you won’t know we’re here.

Micky: I’m not Mrs…Could you at least wear a mask?

Mandy: Come in Geoff, help yourselves to a glass of wine when you are done.

Geoff: Thank you kindly, don’t mind if I do, it’s the last job of the day.

Micky: Amanda this is not good.

[The doorbell rings]

Micky: You have got to be kidding me.

Mandy: Come in Michael, how are you?

Michael: Most excellent Amanda, I wish you well. I hope you don’t mind, I’ve brought a few people from the Cabinet Office. Just some advisors, a few press officers, a couple of people from the delivery unit, someone to take minutes…

Mandy: It’s great for the Cabinet Office to take an interest in the R&D roadmap, do come in. Drinks are in the kitchen if anyone wants one.

Michael: Just water for me, Amanda, unless you have some Dandylion and Burdock cordial?

Mandy: Come through…

Micky: Amanda, I’m serious, this is out of control.

Mandy: But Michael Gove is here so it must be ok.

Micky: It’s not OK, you have 25 people.

Mandy: 24.

Micky: You have 24 people in our kitchen, drinking wine. You’re not allowed that many at a wedding. How do you think this would look if the Daily Mail found out?

Mandy: It’s government business.

Micky: They wouldn’t see it like that.

Mandy: Well, I won’t tell them if you don’t.

Geoff: There you go, Mrs S, all done. I didn’t realise that government buildings had exemptions on social distancing.

Micky: They don’t.

Geoff: It’s good to mix with real people again. Some of the lads have put it on their Insta.

Micky: Insta?

Geoff: Instagram, but I think Charlie is on Twitter too.

Micky: Twitter?

Geoff: Don’t you know what Twitter is?

Micky: Oh God. Amanda, this is on Twitter.

Mandy: Yes, I know, one of the comms girls from the Cabinet Office is periscoping it.

Micky: Periscoping?

Geoff: Yes, it’s a live streaming app. Dear me Mrs S you need to get with the times.

Micky: I’m not Mrs…

[The doorbell rings]

Micky: I don’t believe this.

Boris: Only me you gorgeous…Ah wrong flat, sorry…I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.

Mandy: Come in prime minister, it’s great that you are taking an interest in the R&D roadmap.

Boris: R&D? Is that some kind of music?

Mandy: It’s what Dom would have wanted. Come in, you didn’t need to bring flowers and chocolate but thanks anyway. Grab a drink from the kitchen, we’ll get started in a moment when the academics get here.

Micky: Academics?

Mandy: Just the chief scientific officer, the chief medical officer, a couple of professors from Sheffield or somewhere, and their PhD students.

Micky: PhD students?

[The doorbell rings]

Mandy: Paddy, how lovely to see you, and you Chris, everyone come on through.

Paddy: Gosh, it’s a bit crowded in here.

Mandy: We can squeeze together.

Chris: Sorry, is there somewhere I could wash my hands?

Mandy: In the kitchen, next to the wine.

Micky: Amanda, this is beyond a joke.

Mandy: Relax, it’s government business. I checked with Mancock, as long as you are having legitmate work done in your house it’s fine.

Micky: He means getting your boiler seen to.

[The doorbell rings]

Micky: If this is bloody Matt Hancock, he can just go and…

Police officer: Evening madam.

Micky: Evening officer…err…can I be of assistance?

Police officer: We’ve had a report of an illegal party, madam.

Micky: Worse than UKIP?

Police officer: No, madam, you are familiar with the rules on social distancing?

Micky: It’s not my flat.

Police officer: That’s as may be madam. That fella looks a bit like Chris Whitty…

Micky: He’s washing his hands.

Police officer: He seems to be drinking white wine.

Micky: It’s not my flat.

Police officer: Who is that blond gentleman?

Micky: Please don’t arrest me.

Police officer: Why is he carrying flowers?

Micky: He’s in the wrong flat.

Police officer: I would say so, please stand aside madam, my officers will be taking names and addresses of everyone here.

Micky: Please don’t send me to jail. I couldn’t cope without Waitrose.

Police officer: I’ll be issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000 to the party organiser.

Micky: Brandon Lewis? Is it still Brandon, I can’t keep up…

Mandy: Good evening officer, can I help?

Police officer: Is this your flat madam?

Mandy: Mine? No, of course not, it belongs to a higher power.

Police officer: Church-owned, is it?

Micky: The government.

Mandy: The taxpayer.

Police officer: This party is funded by the taxpayer?

Mandy: There seems have been a misunderstanding…

Police officer 2: Sarge, the bloke with blond hair and flowers is refusing to give his name, says his partner doesn’t know he’s out. Will I put him in the van for a bit, see if it changes his mind.

Micky: No, please, don’t do that.

Police officer: Misunderstanding?

Mandy: There is a perfectly logical explanation for this.

Police officer: Go on then, this is going to be good.

Mandy: It’s not a party, it’s a seminar.

Police officer: A seminar?

[A voice from the kitchen shouts out: “Amanda, do you have any more glasses? I’m drinking wine out of a mug”.]

Mandy: A seminar.

Micky: It’s just a seminar…that got out of control.

Police officer: Madam, this is the sort of thing I would expect from students, not from the likes of you.

Micky: I’m the universities minister.

Police officer: I don’t care if you are the bleeding Dalai Lama, I’m going to need everyone’s name and address.

Mandy: It’s not a party, it’s a government seminar on the Research and Development roadmap, organised by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. All these people are either members of the government or work for the government.

Police officer: Even the bloke with the blond hair and flowers?

Micky: He’s a PhD student.

Mandy: On work experience.

Police officer: Looks a bit old for a student.

Mandy: He’s from Sheffield, harsh winters, officer.

Police officer: Do you have any proof of this madam?

Paddy: Sergeant, how are you? I know we shouldn’t shake hands these days but let me just say hello.

[They shake hands in a convoluted way]

Police officer: I see, sir. I hadn’t realised. We’ll be on our way. Mind how you go, sir.

Micky: What was that?

Mandy: Paddy, I didn’t know you were one of them.

Paddy: I’m full of surprises, Mandy.

Mandy: Another glass of wine, my mystery caller?

Micky: What is going on? I’m utterly confused.

Chris: Is the seminar about to start? Or do I have time to wash my hands again?

Michael: This lime cordial is excellent, Amanda.

Boris: Not a word to Carrie, but would you like these flowers? They’re from the all-night garage.

Micky: That was close.

Mandy: Could have been worse.

Micky: How?

Mandy: Gavin Williamson could have turned up.

Micky: Did you invite him?

[The doorbell rings. Micky and Mandy look at each other in horror.]

Terms of use: this is a free email for fun on a Friday, it should be shared widely like the minutes of a parish council meeting. Want the slides from the PowerPoint of the R&D roadmap seminar? Email: ivorytower@researchresearch.com