“Are you guys watching the news?” asked Janice. “What’s wrong? Bored of Love Island? Run out of repeats of Embarrassing Bodies on catch up?”
Ron and Quintin grunQuintin an acknowledgement that might have been a greeting without looking away from the screen.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was gesticulating amid a roar of derision. It was impossible to tell whether the derision was coming from his own side, the opposition or both.
Janice slumped into her usual chair.
“Good evening to you too, Janice.” She dropped her voice an octave, which didn’t make her sound much like either Ron or Quintin but was usually close enough that they got the point. “How was your long and tiring day at work? The commute home must have been hell, given that you don’t work five minutes down the road like we do. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Shh,” said Ron.
Janice raised her tone to a falsetto, parodying her own voice. “Why, what considerate flatmates I have. I would love a cup of tea. Thank you so much.”
Neither Ron nor Quintin looked in her direction.
“And I had a most productive day at work sourcing the cyanide with which I intend to poison my flatmates.”
Ron slapped a hand on the arm of the sofa. Janice thought she’d got a reaction out of him until he said, “look at that tosser.”
Ron was glaring at the screen, where the suited Jacob Rees-Mogg sprawled languidly over a Parliamentary green bench.
“Oh, leave him alone,” said Quintin as if Rees-Mogg could hear them. “They’ve been at it for hours. He’s tired.”
“He’s a tosser,” said Ron. “He’s the Leader of the House and he thinks he’s too above it all. Too modern for boring stuff like, like duty. Thinks he’s still waiting for his nanny to bring him his tea, he does.”
“Yes,” said Janice. “Speaking of tea-”
“Modern?” Demanded Quintin. “You’re calling him modern? He’s wearing a three-piece suit, and he’s done all the buttons up. He’s just an old-fashioned sort, doing his best.”
The camera was now on another MP. Janice couldn’t hear what she was saying over Ron and Quintin’s argument, but she looked angry.
“If he was doing his best, he wouldn’t have pushed for Brexit in the first place,” said Ron.
Janice groaned. “Not the B-word.”
Ron didn’t notice. “He’s just a city banker with millions of family money and a pose that he thinks looks clever.”
“All right, I’ll make the tea.” Janice raised her voice, but not loudly enough because Ron was still talking.
“If he can’t sit up, it’s because he’s an invertebrate and invertebrates haven’t got backbones.”
Ron and Quintin had turned away from the television and were facing each other from their sofa cushions.
“Yeah, yeah, very clever,” said Quintin. “You just don’t like him because he’s a Brexiteer.”
“I don’t like him because he’s a tosser. He’s a Brexiteer because he’s a tosser.” Ron looked like he wasn’t sure Quintin had got his point. “He’s a tosser!”
“You need to stop being so against Brexit,” said Quintin. “I know I don’t want a bunch of unelecQuintin bureaucrats in Brussels telling me what shape my bananas should be.”
“When did either of you last eat any fruit?” Janice threw a meaningful look at the empty packet of custard creams half sunk in the gap between their respective cushions. Neither of them noticed
“Oh, don’t tell me you believe a word that bottle-blond moron says. Take one look at everything he promised three years ago. A nice, easy trade agreement with Europe, more money for hospitals and we’d all be in la-di-dah by now.”
“Shangri-La,” Janice tried to correct him, knowing it was pointless.
“Look at him now,” Ron spoke over her. “He’s not even pretending he meant a word of it.”
“Give him a chance,” said Ron, “he only just took over and he’s promising a deal. There’s weeks to go yet. He’s got time.”
“A deal! You’re having a laugh.” Ron’s backside was now several centimetres above the sofa cushions as he leaned toward Quintin. “If he’s going for a deal, what’s he doing in Parliament at all? Why isn’t he in Brussels, keeping his word?”
“Because this is a democracy.” Quintin leaned toward Ron, who say back down as if Quintin was pushing against an invisible forcefield between them. “The people voQuintin to leave the EU so Boris is taking us out of the EU.”
“I’m the people as much as anyone is. Nearly half the people voQuintin to stay.” Ron was half standing now and it was Quintin’s turn to lean back.
Janice grabbed the remote control as they both starQuintin talking together. She couldn’t make out what either of them were saying as she flicked through the channels, although she heard the words, ‘Europe’, ‘democracy’, ‘Boris’ several times, the last usually closely followed by ‘tosser’.
It took a few moments to find what she was looking for: a young blonde woman in a bikini, reclining on a sun lounger beside a swimming pool. Janice couldn’t hear what she was saying to the camera, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t know what program this was, but it didn’t look like one that selecQuintin its interviewees for their eloquence.
Janice stood in front of the television and bellowed, “would you like a cup of tea?”
Ron and Quintin fell silent, sat down and looked at her.
“Cool, cheers Jan,” said Ron.
“That’d be great, thanks Jan,” said Quintin.
“All right then.” Janice sidestepped away from the screen.
Both pairs of eyes slid off her to lock on to the blonde.
“Now that’s how slouching’s done,” said Ron. “That Rees-Mogg tosser should take notes.”
“Enough,” said Janice. “Mention him again and you’ll find out whether I was joking about the cyanide.”
Neither Ron nor Quintin took their attention off the screen, or showed any sign of having heard her.