❝ A Civil Disturbance: Of Rules And Rugby. ❞
I own neither the Minister, nor his boys. I'm merely borrowing them.

--

"And how is your minister?"

Taking the glass of Scotch from Sir Frank, Humphrey settled back into the chair, ruminating carefully over the question. Summing up Jim Hacker's progress in the Department of Administrative Affairs was not a task he undertook lightly, not even in the context of conversation, and he found himself looking for adjectives in a mouthful of the liquor. Sir Frank, however, was versed in such unspoken language and nodded, chortling into his barrel of a chest as he poured a second glass for himself.

"It's early days yet, Frank," Humphrey remarked, at last, in a pensive manner, "To tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure what to make of him; he alternates freely between rampant narcissism and perceived superiority. Still, we'll soon make an impression on him," he raised his glass slightly, toasting the insidious inner-workings of Her Majesty's Civil Service.

"Ah, I don't doubt that" the Under Secretary to the Treasury chuckled into his barreled chest, "Titles tend to create an entirely fabricated sense of prestige in new ministers, despite the fact that the magnitude of paperwork is almost always inversely proportionate to the final aggregate of power. The Chancellor is a fine example: he's been locked away in his study for the past three days, working through box after box, yet the economy is working perfectly well without him," Frank caught Humphrey's eye and raised his eyebrow in infinitely meaningful way.

"I'm tempted to ante a little on the date of their eventual burn-outs," Humphrey paused, drumming the fingers of his free hand against his knee, "Unfortunately, betting on the definite offers no worthy return. Even the Private Secretary has suspended his usual raffle in lieu of something with a little more risk,"

"Risk," he chortled, apparently indulging in something of a private joke, "Yes, I ran into your boy this morning. He's bordering on hapless, if you ask me,"

"Really?" Humphrey, in a rare moment of candor, allowed himself to sound both surprised and curious by such an abrupt judgement; Bernard had, after all, been tipped as a high-flier, and hadn't yet committed any irreparable foul. As a matter of fact, he'd been rather satisfied with the Private Secretary's progress thus far, and so pressed Sir Frank for more information, "What makes you think so?"

Frank puckered his lips, "Well, speaking of risk, he's not exactly one for taking it," he paused, and leant forwards in his chair in the manner of a man about to impart some grand cipher, "Not game, you see,"

"Oh, my dear Frank," he chuckled derisively, "I'm quite sure he is. Just not by your rules, perhaps?"

"In that case, perhaps you should have a word with him about letting the team down. I'd hate to see him retired out before scoring a good few runs,"

"Funny," remarked Humphrey, reclining a little further into the padded seat and rolling his Scotch over the rocks, "I always had you pegged as more of a rugger man, myself."