Famous pickpocket and all-round tea leaf Fagin today replaced Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, and his first Cabinet appointment was to select The Artful Dodger as his Chancellor of the Exchequer.
'Listen, Dodger, me old china', he said, 'you've got to use all your skill around here, but not just on the pockets. Toilet seats, takeaway meals, porno films, dog food, if it ain't nailed to the ground, 'alf-inch it!'
'Okay.' 'If you's gets caughts, just say sumfink like - 'hit was han hessential expense for me work', as a whatever these plonkers do wiv 'emlseves round Westminster all the time. Got it?'
'Yeah.' 'Orf you go then, and take that new girl wivs yer.' ''That red-headed 'Azel strumpet?' 'Yeah, show 'er the ropes', and The Artful Dodger and Hazel Bleary headed for the Palace of Westminster.
'Just watch me, and you'll soon get the 'ang of it', said The Dodger, and within five minutes he'd managed to steal a stack of MPs' expense forms, which they quickly took back to Fagin's house in Downing Street.
'Good lad!', Fagin said, 'now get all the boys and girls together, and get filling out these forms! Don't matter what you claim for, just make it up as you go along. But whatever you do don't claim for anything essential to being an MP, might make it stand out a bit.'
So the children got writing, and claimed for everything that MPs don't need but are nice anyway - dinners at the Savoy, weekends in France, chauffeured cars and taxis, football matches, second home mortgages that are already paid off ...
'Now this is what I call real stealing!', laughed The Artful Dodger, 'and to fink that even if the Old Bill catch us we just have to pay all what we stole back! No prison, courts, or even fines!'
And Fagin broke into a song, such was his pleasure at hitting a veritable thieves' goldmine:
'Expenses, glorious expenses
French food at St. Malo
While we're in the mood
Free mortgages all day-o
Three homes that we've never seen
Four cars that would please the Queen
Five holidays in Argentine
Expenses, glorious expenses!
'And remember, boys and girls ... this isn't stealing, it's legitimate expenses, OK?' 'OK!'
And from the back of the Cabinet room one small voice piped up: 'Please, sir, can I have some more of your taxes?' Adam Smith is 56 today.