We can no longer ignore Cleggover.

The sense of foreboding at DRIP is tangible. Mrs Rolfe the cleaner has adopted the foetus position in the corner by the credenza, nursing a bottle of Jamie's Pine Nut Pickling Sherry and sobbing into the threadbare Wilton.

Danaher, the DRIP driver, is showing signs of mounting insanity, hanging up his string-backed gloves and babbling about becoming a journalist. The Whitehall Totty Pool has stopped issuing me a fresh secretary each week, ever since that misunderstanding with the sherry trifle and the zucchini. Aye, these are dark days, readers.

And to compound my personal gloom, I have just returned from a covert mission to Cowley Street to cosy up to the parvenu grandees of something called the Liberal Democratic Party.

Apparently they're a bit like the Morrissons of UK politics - under new management and enjoying a bit of a renaissance but fundamentally the same old tat sold in a shiny yellow wrapper.

It was with some trepidation that I snuck past the towering portrait of Jeremy Thorpe astride his mighty steed Rinka by the rear entrance, making my way to the Charles Kennedy Bar where I was to meet the party elite. And there they all were that one-man army of lovers Corporal Clegg, Vince Cable in his rubber-seated bath chair and a wizened old crone I took to be a bag lady receiving alms, but turned out to be Shirley Williams.

I was ushered into a dusty corner, where a couple of hours later Cleggover saw fit to approach me.

"Pumsey," he hissed, "tell your vile paymasters that we may yet see fit to save their streaky bacon. But it will cost you, believe me. We want proportional representation to guarantee our 1,000-year reign and Trident recycled into paperclips for all and we're going to slash the £163bn budget deficit, starting with..."

I quaked as he pointed at me, making a throat-cutting gesture with his other hand.

This is you all you need to know about the Lib Dems. Axing my expenses would barely save half that.

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