My son-in-law Jared, who is so clever he could almost be one of my real children, comes running into the Oval Office. And he says it’s time for us to accept that America is at the absolute centre of this thing.
“Harry and Meghan?” I say. “So I hear. But we’re not paying. Did you hear what she said about me? So nasty. Beautiful, but nasty. Not like his mother. She was classy. Did I ever tell you about the time I nearly …”
“No,” says Jared. “Not Harry and Meghan. The virus.”
“Oh that,” I say.
Jared says it’s really bad.
“For our hotel trade,” I agree.
“Yes,” says Jared. “But also for people?”
I must admit this is a new way of thinking about it. But Jared says we need to get on top of that angle, too, and fast. Otherwise it’s just handing ammunition to Joe Biden.
“Hey, where has he gone anyway?” I say. “Not heard from him in weeks.”
Jared says Sleepy Joe has stopped leaving the house, and now addresses America via the internet from his own basement.
“Wow,” I say. “He sounds like a fan.”
Melania and I are watching the news about New York and it’s terrible. People are dying. Real people. And I have so much empathy. So much. Some people say I struggle to care about other people, but I’m seeing stories of septuagenarian white men from New York fighting for their lives and somehow I can totally imagine what that is like.
So I call Dr Fauci, my plague guy, straight away and I say we need to act. “Which moron,” I say, “said this would be over by Easter?”
Fauci doesn’t say anything.
“People need to wear masks,” I say. “Not just ugly people. Hot ones, too. Yes?”
“Perhaps,” agrees Fauci.
“Also,” I say, “we need to close New York. Nobody leaves. Not even to see their families. Maybe for months. Starting now.”
“No!” says Melania suddenly. “Husband! Please! Wait until about 2pm this afternoon!”
“What’s happening at about 2pm this afternoon?” I ask, surprised.
“I’ll be getting there,” she says.
Mike Pence and I are skyping the Chinese premier, Xi.
“How are you?” I say.
“Very healthy!” he says, brightly. Then he says “excuse me” and turns off his camera. Then we hear two solid minutes of coughing. Then he turns it back on again.
“You sure?” I say.
The Chinaman says nobody is sick in China, at all. In fact, they’re all so healthy that they’re about to celebrate the Annual Festival of Licking Strangers. Which hasn’t even been a festival until now, but which they’ve just created because that’s just how damn healthy they are.
Then he asks how Melania is and I tell him she’s in New York.
“She’s lying,” says Mike, afterwards.
“She’s not in New York?” I say.
“President She is in China,” says Mike, sounding confused.
“But vice-president,” I say, feeling even more confused, “why would she go there?”
Jared says that I shouldn’t believe the newspapers or the media, because federal medical supplies are actually holding up remarkably well.
“Good work!” I say, because nobody expected this at all.
Jared says it’s actually really simple. You just don’t give them to anyone.
Now I’m calling Boris Johnson in the UK.
“I heard you were sick,” I say.
“Bit of gyp,” sighs Johnson. “Off colour. Blasted lurgy. Peely-wally. Dicky head.”
I’m not sure if he’s delirious or being rude.
Although either way, I tell him, I’m very cross. Because his catastrophic strategy for this thing would have killed two million Americans. And I nearly followed it. So close!
Johnson says that it was only his strategy for about two days.
Then he says he thought it was a bit harsh for me to mention it at my press conference yesterday, anyway, because we’re all in this together.
“We have lots more ventilators than you,” I say. “Such beautiful ventilators. And personally I find that very comforting.”
“It’s a global problem,” says Johnson. “It’s not a competition.”
“Yes, but you’re only saying that,” I say, “because you aren’t going to win.”
*According to Hugo Rifkind