A quiet Christmas wish.
The W4MP team had packed up their cases for an exotic two-week break
and were trying to get some kip for the third thrilling night at
Heathrow Departure Terminal when the airwaves began to hum.
Oh no, it’s that Jenny again. What the hell does she want this time?
Yes, Jenny, we know that the Dr Who Special is on Christmas Day at 6pm. Yes, we had heard that it is to be a Christmas Carol-ish episode. Oh, apparently there is to be a shark as well is there. Well, thanks Jenny.
But YOU have an EXCLUSIVE about The Doctor? He’s been at Westminster – again? OK, go on then. Tell us all about it.
Jenny had just finished a very bizarre conversation with her mum.
Yes – Matt Smith had played a researcher in Party Animals and was now Dr Who but that did not mean that her next career move was to be the Doctor. Or even a companion.
She had given up trying to explain to her mum the fine line between fiction and reality. It was always a losing battle.
Just because Matt Smith and most of the cast of Party Animals had been to that W4MP party in the Macmillan Room aeons ago doesn’t mean it’s Jenny’s turn now.
At lunch in PCH, when recounting this, Dave interrupted:
‘Matt Smith is an honorary member of the union isn’t he?’
Jenny nodded warily – she was worried where this was going.
‘Why don’t we engineer a vote so it’s deadlocked on something really important, so he has to come in?’
Everyone looked at him in despair.
‘That’s crazy. a) he is Doctor Who so slightly busy and b) are you even a member of the union?’ Bob asked.
‘No but I could be.’ said Dave.
‘Why do you need to meet him anyway? Wait – you’re trying to impress that girl again. Meeting the Milibands and Cameron didn’t work so you’re trying Doctor Who?’ Jenny said.
‘Can’t you take a hint?’ Bob said.
‘But…’ Dave protested.
‘But nothing…forget it. Just because the actor who is currently playing Dr Who played a 26 yr old, over-the-hill, researcher, does not mean you, or I, have any connection with Dr Who! Understand?’ Jenny said.
A tray clattered to the floor in the Debate loudly echoing all over the Atrium. That was not a good sound, to Jenny it sounded like she had challenged someone and they had answered. Like God and a thunderbolt.
This is not what she needed in the run up to Christmas. It had been quiet since that ghost incident in the constituency and she wanted it to stay that way.
The next day she saw a very tall gangly man wearing what she was sure was a bow tie walking out of PCH. That would be one of the hipster researchers who live in Shoreditch. She was pretty sure. When she saw him later it was harder to dismiss the likeness.
Walking through the empty Colonnade he tipped his head to her but she doesn’t know him. A tiny little voice in her head said you don’t know him yet, but he has met you. A much louder and more rational voice said that Dave is just messing with you.
Jenny wasn’t going to tempt fate even more so just went home. It was Doctor Who night on UK Gold and on BBC4 was a box set of Party Animals. This was not a great sign.
The next afternoon Jenny’s boss, Jack Homer MP, appeared in the office with……well…..with Matt Smith. He introduced him as John Smith. She was screaming on the inside or maybe the outside? She couldn’t quite tell as Matt Smith, or Doctor Who, was standing in her office.
‘What’s he doing here? I mean there is nothing in the diary.’
‘Last minute addition. He is a friend of my daughter’s friend. Wanted to shadow an MP for a day for an article.’
‘What is the article for?’
‘Its on the life of an MP.’
Jack nodded to Matt Smith/Doctor Who who reached into his pocket and Jenny knew that, if washe Doctor Who – not Matt Smith or a Matt Smith look alike – this ID was going to be psychic paper. It supposedly was a projection of the thoughts of the holder so that a blank ID and the details were filled in psychically. Downside was if you are expecting psychic paper that’s what it says.
He produced an ID wallet and flashed it at her – it said PSYCHIC PAPER in big bold letters.
‘Psychic paper?’ Jenny spluttered in disbelief and turned to Jack.
‘Are you sure you trust him?‘ she asked her boss.
‘Jenny stop being so difficult.’ Turning to the Doctor, he said ‘She doesn’t like journalists. Something about incessant phone calls making it hard to work. Mr Smith, come on through to my office and we will go through my afternoon routine.’
Jenny escaped into the corridor were she pinched her arm and reassured herself that she was awake, only just as crazy as her mother.
Jenny, at a loss for a next step, phoned Bob. Unfortunately Dave answered.
‘Bellamy’s Xmas lunch tomorrow – you promised to ask your boss for a lunch break.’ Dave said.
‘Is Bob there? I don’t have time for this right now.’ Jenny replied.
‘But this is important; it only happens once a year and would be your first.’
‘Dave, DAVE I really don’t have time for this.’ Jenny said.
Dave hung up in a huff.
Jenny went back to the office, printed off a letter and pretended it needed an urgent signature, so she could see what “John Smith” and her boss were talking about.
The Doctor was on the computer and supposedly Jack was showing him something. Jack knows nothing about IT and there were weird sparks coming from the computer. That was not good.
I need your signature on this and do you realise there are sparks?’ Jenny said.
‘No, no of course there aren’t.’ Jack just got out a pen and signed it. This never happened; he always checked her letters for spelling and grammar. Always.
How could she get Jack to snap out of his daze?
‘What?!’ Jack demanded.
Rubbish – she knew it was too unrealistic. She should have said the sky was falling in.
‘Why have you got a letter? I told you to stop using the computer signature.’ He asked.
‘It’s an old one. I was just going to ask you about filing it’
During this exchange the Doctor had melted into the corner slightly, which was impressive as he was a tall and distinctive man.
‘What’s your plan with Mr Smith?’ Jenny asked.
‘I am taking Mr Smith to the Despatch Box.’ His tone implied she was about as welcome as a student in Parliament Square.
‘That’s nice- I’ll get back to work then.’
Would she ever. The only thing Jenny could think of was the Doctor wanted to impersonate an MP for some reason. She knew he was Doctor Who as that little firework display with the computer convinced her. Although part of her thought there had to be a logical explanation that did not involve robot armies or ghosts. Like her imagination.
Jenny pondered her next steps as she walked up and down the stairs and up and down from her office to PCH as she was going to get her boss away from this Doctor guy and confront him. Perhaps?
Or she could just leave it – he was never actually evil. Harsh but not evil and not very political, and her boss was no Harriet Jones, he did not look tired at all.
‘Hi boss, you have a question soon, people have dropped off the list so you have gone from 15 to 9.’ Jenny fabricated when she got there.
Jack started to get his stuff together and apologise, she cut him off ‘Why don’t I take Mr Smith on a quick tour?’
When Jack had gone, Jenny, at a loss on how to start the conversation about what the heck the Doctor was doing here and the fact he was real, said.‘ So this is the newest part of the estate. It was kinda controversial when it opened… these trees are rented.’
That was about all Jenny knew about PCH, except that the Debate was her favourite place to eat but that wasn’t relevant.
He wasn’t talking so she continued the tour taking him towards the Palace, and in a quiet bit of the Colonnade asked him outright,
‘So are you Dr Who pretending to be a journo or a journo pretending to be Dr Who? Or is this a wind up by Dave?’
All he did was smile and say ‘Now that would be telling.’
‘Pardon? I could tell any of these nice policeman that you need to be ejected.’
‘But Jenny how do you know that they are really policemen?’
‘How do you know about that? It wasn’t like Unit saved me.’ There she goes again talking like a crazy person, Dr Who is a fictional TV show.
‘That nice young soldier who saved you from the robots told me to get in touch with you if I was coming here. I dropped into Unit on my way. Its nice to keep in touch. ‘
‘I must be mad.’ Jenny said.
‘You’re not mad – just slightly sensitive and rather paranoid.’ Jenny made to interrupt but he carried on. ‘And rather bad at reading warning signals oddly. Where everyone avoids a situation you walk right into it’
‘And I am going to escort you to the nearest exit.’ Jenny said.
‘You will never find out why I am here if you do.’ The Doctor replied.
‘OK…but we will go to the Jubilee Cafe. ‘
This was an odd day even for Jenny. Talking to Dr Who, in the flesh in front of her.
‘Look it doesn’t really matter who I am. Because I will be out of here in a little bit. I just need some information. I misplaced something a few decades ago and I need to find it.’
‘What is it?’ Jenny asked.
‘It slows down time very locally- within a quarter of a mile radius. Hasn’t anyone one noticed how much slower time runs in this place? Come on, you only got rid of the wigs and tights in the last twenty years. And the technology? Only getting Blackberry’s now really? Still having fish and chips on Friday. Still calling people my Honourable Friend. No one finds this odd?’ The Doctor asked.
‘Why have you only come back for it now if it exists?’
‘I have been slightly busy and only discovered I didn’t have it when I had time to run a stock take of the Tardis and I have been retracing my steps and the tights/wigs flagged as a singularity.’
‘Its weird – this all kind of makes sense. When were you last here?’ Jenny asked.
‘Well Old Scotland Yard wasn’t old-‘
Jenny had to laugh at this ‘OK so you think it could be in there?’
‘I ran a scan from Jack’s computer; it wasn’t there. Which means it was moved probably more centrally in the Palace.’
‘Well what does it look like?’ Jenny couldn’t believe she was going along with this.
‘Like a time slowing device…. kind of steam-punk-looking: lots of cogs and wheels.’
That jogged a memory with Jenny, though she was unsure what steam punk was. She did not know where to start looking. They went back into Westminster Hall.
‘Who are the shivering people in blue and gold?’ The Doctor asked.
‘Visitor Services…’ Jenny answered quickly. ‘ And its freezing in here. Hey they could know…. if we described it to them, not, you know, asked where the time slowing down device is.‘ He had gotten ahead of her though.
‘Excuse me – do you know where the time distortion device is?’
‘Pardon?’ The poor confused guide asked.
‘Sorry … ‘ Jenny said catching up ‘He meant the clock. Big Ben.’
‘Big Ben isn’t the clock.’ The Visitor Assistant said.
‘I don’t have time for this – come away please.’ She said to the Doctor. Walking quickly really hoping he would follow her.
She turned round and saw The Doctor was sniffing a statue. Pulling him away she said ‘What are you doing?’
‘I can smell advance technology and this statue reeks of it. In fact this whole hallway does. It must have been brought through here – recently.’
‘Can you follow the trail?’ Jenny asked.
‘I am a Time Lord not a blood hound.’
‘OK so we just need to find out what has been moved recently and why It would be old like a museum piece right? So it may have been on display or in the archives?’ Jenny said.
There was a bell ringing in her head.
‘Are you remembering something?’ The Doctor asked.
‘Describe it to me again.’
‘It was all dials, cogs and levers…Lets think logically – where do you regularly go? Where would you have seen it?’ Doctor Who said.
‘In the Palace I only really go to the Table Office and Committee Corridor…’
‘Well the Terrace, Sports and Social, used to go to the Lords Bar.’
‘So not the archives,’
‘No I keep meaning to do the tour but not got round to it yet’
‘It would have to have been on display somewhere then;’
Jenny was racking her brain. ‘We are nearest to the Terrace.’
He started moving off without her in the wrong direction of course but they got there eventually. Opposite the gift shop there was an empty glass cabinet. Great.
‘Now there used to be something in that case there – something about an early annunciator.’ Jenny said.
‘The screens that show Parliamentary business around the Estate. And an old one was here. Does it smell right?’
‘The food smells are getting in the way. Come on we need to find this thing. Its got to be near by.’ The Doctor said.
‘Or in the Science Museum. At the Information Exhibition? There is a poster for it right there.‘ Jenny pointed out. ‘Can you please go and steal it from there without my help, as I really should be getting back to work now?’
’Nope still need your help. I am companionless – Rory and Amy are still on their honeymoon.’
Jenny replied –
‘So you want me to go to the Science Museum in the middle of a work day to steal a time slowing device as it turns out the journalist Jack invited in is Doctor Who.
What the hell am I going to tell my boss?’
‘Jenny’ – December 2010
Read Jenny’s other adventures. They’re on the main alt.guides page.
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Added: 21 December 2010