A Cook


‘I snapped. ‘Do you want to know what I had for lunch?’
He sensed that I was upset, but still couldn’t quite see why.
‘Um… do you want to tell me?’ he asked.
I smiled unpleasantly. ‘Yes,’ I snapped. ‘Nothing.’
‘Are you dieting Prime Minister?’

I explained succinctly that I was not dieting. I expressed my total astonishment that there are facilities at Number Ten for feeding Bernard, and all the private secretaries, the whole of the Cabinet office, the press office, the garden-room girls[1], the messengers… but not me. And I bloody live here!
Bernard asked if Mrs Hacker could cook for me. I reminded him that she has her own job. Then he offered to get me a cook. It looked a good offer – until closer examination revealed that I would have to pay for it. And, according to Bernard, the cost of a full-time cook would be between eight and ten thousands a year. I can’t afford that. Trying to get himself off the hook, he suggested that I talk to the Cabinet Secretary – obviously he didn’t want to get involved in a discussion when it wasn’t in his power to change the system. But I was very irritated. Still am, come to that. I turned back to the window and fumed silently.

Bernard cleared his throat. ‘I think the Cabinet Secretary’s due here in a few moments anyway. So shall we get on with the affairs of the nation?’
‘Stuff the affairs of the nation,’ I replied. ‘I want a cook.’

[1] The name given to the very high-class ladies of the registry and typing pool at Number Ten, who worked in a basement room that leads out on the garden.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1986. The Complete Yes Prime Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1989) p. 72

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