Tobias seated on his throne, ermine framing his eccentricly styled blond hair, waves imperially at his followers and announces that he is emptying his treasury on behalf of his country, so that everyone will have so much better lifestyles and be forever grateful and love him unconditionally.
He glances across at his chief adviser, Connie, for approval. She fidgets a little, smiles nervously at him, noticing the orange stain down his front. He is oblivious to his appearance, or rather, he has the delusion that he looks exceptionally grand today.
His secretary enters, dismissing the media, and the huge ornate room becomes silent until she speaks.
“You have an appointment now.” she tells him.
Oh yes, he remembers, he has to meet with his treasurer to make sure he knows how to distribute the fortune. And after that he is to meet with his queen and the little prince, his son. Beyond that, he doesn't remember right now, but it won't matter until it happens, and he will be told, anyway, so basically it doesn't matter to him right now. Not at all.
He pats his unruly hair and grins at the secretary, who holds out her hand as he rises. She indicates the direction towards his office suite and he walks with her on the plush carpet, past portraits of other royals, his ancestors.
His treasurer is already seated at a desk, and Tobias seats himself on a sofa nearby, where he can nod approvingly if he wants to. The secretary stands by, notebook in hand.
After the usual politeness of “hello how are you”s, the first question from the treasurer takes Tobias by surprise.
“Do you think you are making progress?”
With what? thinks Tobias. I am making the country happy, and they adore me. If that isn't progress, what is?
He rubs his chin and replies “I remembered to wash my hands. And of course everyone is following my example. They all have lots of money to spend and I even gave the restaurants enough so that they could offer half price meals to everyone. So long as they all wash their hands, of course. Space, face, hands, teeth, hands, knees, boompsadaisy and all that.”
“I see” says the treasurer, and Tobias reflects that he said a great deal of useful information.
“Do you think perhaps you would enjoy taking part in an art project?” is the next question.
“Oh I gave the theatres lots of money too!” exclaims Tobias with evident glee. “They can all let the staff have lots of beer and time to go to the seaside. Or even Barnard Castle! I hear that's a really good place to visit. The architecture is a real work of art, as is the countryside with lots of healthy fresh air, and there is a good optician there too.”
“Perhaps you would like to listen to music.” muses the treasurer.
Tobias has an inkling that something is not as it seems, but he has no idea what, and dismisses the thought instantly.
“I think it's really important to have a decent education.” he replies. “Like I had, everyone should have that. So now they've got the money they can have a computer each and do everything online and learn new languages that will be useful on the aeroplanes and in other countries, you know, and they can have time away from baking and order takeaways to support the hospitality industry.”
“Do you know where you are?” asks the treasurer.
Now Tobias is sure that this is an odd question. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with money. He leans back for a moment on the sofa and considers. The treasurer waits, and the secretary scribbles.
“When the banks crashed, we borrowed a lot, so it's only right that we give everyone the chance to do the same, so we've lent everyone all the money they need, except for what they say they need but they don't, as we ascertained by thorough assessments, which concluded that all the people who died were idiots who didn't know how to handle their money and lived in tents because they wanted a permanent festival lifestyle. They also endangered all the decent hardworking people by shitting all over the litterbins and starting forest fires with their discarded beer bottles and careless firepits, the drunken bastards.”
Tobias starts to cry. “I don't know why they won't listen to me. I know they love me really.”
The secretary approaches and wipes his dribbly chin. Glances at the treasurer who nods his assent to end the interview.
Tobias allows himself to be led back past the portraits, which now seem to be mocking him, and away to his household, where the secretary makes him a cup of tea. She also gives him a headache pill, which he obediently and gratefully swallows. He thinks it will keep him alive somehow.
As his headache clears, he begins to notice the outfit that the secretary is wearing. It reminds him about the NHS that he had put so much effort into saving, by sending lots of people for them to look after. It had been so successful, only half a million died when it could have been twenty times that.
Reminiscing, he smiles, glances at her and speaks “Thank you nurse.”
She smiles back. “You're welcome, Tobias.”
Leading him into the patient cafeteria, she settles him at a table and fetches his meal for him to eat in relative sanity.
In the afternoon, he receives no visitors. He remembers sadly how he had produced at least eleven children, to at least four mothers, but none of them wanted to know him. Not even his favourite, the one who he had actually had some contact with, who was named after his father, Alvin, born to his then partner, Mary. She had gone by the wayside when he had set eyes on the subsequent woman, Dodie. Sadly, Dodie had become disillusioned with him over his obsession with Scottish Caroline, and given him an ultimatum, so he had retired for a while from the social scene and from his position and here he was. Washed up. But at least with clean hands.