I’m looking out from the roof terrace of a tall building in London, I’m guessing it’s a hotel. Early morning. From here I can see that the whole city is flooded, with all the nearby homes and businesses submerged to somewhere above their ground floor windows. It’s probably a good thing that I see no other people. I’m equally reassured by the absence of abandoned vehicles in the streets. Whatever happened, it seems that everyone had some warning of it.
David joins me at the corner of the roof, glances down into the street and immediately regrets it, emitting a nauseated gurgle as he backs away. He’s terribly hungover, still wearing the same clothes he had on last night. One side of his hair is sticking out sideways at all angles. I ask him if he’s been to the same barber as Boris Johnson. David tells me (redundantly) that he’s really, really hungover. I’m about to discuss the flood with him, but he’s already started on a Withnail and I-style drinking anecdote about a Tory peer who David claims has been functionally drunk every single day of his career. This includes his previous job as a judge. On one occasion this moribund alcoholic crapped his pants in the house of Lords, but he either didn’t care or he was too drunk to notice. He just sat there stinking up Parliament until somebody whispered that the bar was open.
“Well, David, I don’t ever want to hear you asking why nobody likes a Tory.”
He mimes an exaggerated shrug, his shoulders hunched up almost to his ears, while pulling a face that says “I know, but what can I do?”
The hotel is now slowly but definitely floating off downstream along the bloated Thames. “We’re moving,” I say, but David has already returned indoors. I find him asking a miserable Polish waitress if she can get him a cooked breakfast. She asks if he’d like tea and he says “No, I need coffee. I’m a bit of a sad caffeine addict.” She doesn’t understand what he’s talking about so she just says “Coffee? OK.”
I say that the government should decriminalise some of the less dangerous drugs, since he apparently thinks it’s humorous to be drunk all day every day and he himself admits to being a binge drinker of one drug and addicted to another. He says “Ha ha… yeah,” without any enthusiasm whatsoever. “Seriously though,” he says, “Who’s going to take the responsibility for deciding which drugs are harmful and which ones aren’t?” I tell him that we already know that alcohol and smoking are harmful, so all that’s required is to analyse and publicise the latest, most credible data or research for currently legal drugs and for other potentially harmful substances. Then people can decide for themselves if they want to get involved with any of this stuff and take the consequences as we already do with nicotine, alcohol and his own beloved caffeine. He’s starting to look a bit bored and I confess that I have started to rant slightly. I ask him if he’s coming back up to the roof and he says “No. I want my sausages and bacon.”
The gentle drifting of the hotel has brought us near to Greenwich and Canary Wharf, whose skyscrapers now have their toes in the water. For a moment I think about berating David for the Millennium Dome, but then I remember it was the previous government who was responsible for it. Whatever his other faults are, I can’t blame him for that one. The Thames flood barrier is either underwater or entirely washed away, so there’s nothing to stop us and the other unmoored buildings from floating out into the North Sea.