Monday, 30 July 2012

Bitter Together: 7. Explosive Decompression

7 pm, the Olympic circus was about to start. Around Cambourne, in the East London Olympic Arena, the heads of state had gathered in their seats and executive boxes. Just in front of him sat her Majesty, readied to be the voice of Cambourne's aspirations for his post Olympic 'Great Britain'. A few seats to her "Maj's" right sat that buffoon Boris, London's mayor, who was lining himself up for a tilt at Cambourne's power base, yet a Tory majority in 2015 (and there would be a Tory majority next time) would see Boris' wings singed like those of a moth in a flame and Boris would end up being very lucky to get another term as Mayor of London. Cambourne looked behind him at the serried ranks of Tory ministers, not one of them would have the gumption to challenge Cambourne - they all owed him 'big style'. The Libdems ? They were now electoral toast and New Labour were looking like taking at least another 13 years to differentiate between their collective arse and their elbow. Cambourne was going to be the neoliberal 'Thatcher' of the second decade of the 21st Century. There was only going to be one politician taking home 'Gold for Britain' at these Olympics and it was going to be him. He grasped his wife's hand looking forward to his triumph.

Lennie and Dennie would have been surprised at the lack of 'Mission Impossible' flames and roiling smoke when the explosive charge went off: so well judged by Jimmy 'Fingers' McLure (safe blower to the criminal elite) was the amount of Semtex used. Standing by the pump room door all you would have heard was a sharp crack and all you would have seen is the pump room door flex outwards against its hinges and architrave, then settle back. The flange had been cleanly cut away and now the pump room was filling up with Olympic quantities of water in a way it was never designed to do. It was not long before the alarms were ringing in the Aquatic Centre's control room and the duty controller was initially frozen into disbelief as the pool circulation pumps shut down, one after an other. Worse the gas sensors in the pump room were showing increasingly high readings of the highly dangerous and toxic Chlorine gas. This could only mean one thing, the pump room was flooding. She walked out onto the gallery and looked down, the Olympic pool was emptying, there was no need for fancy sensors when you had two good 'mark 1' eyeballs.

She returned to the consol and shut every valve she could, then contacted the senior engineer, told him what was happening and the potential problem of high levels of Chlorine gas in the pump room if anyone went to inspect the problem, first hand. They agreed she should call the London Fire Service in, as they had the technical expertise to deal with the Chlorine gas levels, and inform the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. Having done all this she headed down to the basement and the pump room to see for herself. As she reached the  basement corridor the pump room door failed and the first of many metric tonnes of water began to break free. She did not know how she got out of the corridor and back to the next level before she was swamped but reckoned she would have beaten the 100m Gold medallist at that moment. The flood of water entered the electrical power room and the Aquatic Centre was plunged into darkness. All that was left to do was to safely evacuate everybody from the building. It was now 7:15 pm.

At 7:30pm a  Reuters journalist got a 'tip off' to look at a 'Your a Tube' posting and then all hell broke loose. The Scottish National Liberation Army were claiming a first strike against the waste of British taxpayers money that was the London Olympics - it was a Semtex, shaped, hollow, demolition charge that had caused the emptying of the Olympic pool - Soar Alba!

At 7:31 pm the operations room at Hereford saw the 'Your a Tube' posting and sent  'Cockleshell' activation codes to their SAS teams in the Scottish Borders.

"It seems we have actually to blow up a mile worth of High Voltage pylons." Dan said in a surprised voice, "Check the code and send the 'confirm' if you agree with the order, Rod."
"Checked and sent 'confirm'. Ours not to question why .... eh?"
"Suppose so, Rod, but it doesn't seem right."
"That's what we do, Dan, things for the UK Government that don't seem right. No one better trained than us to do down and dirty un-right stuff. Better get a bend on if we are going to blow the lot, on schedule, by 8 pm."

The opening ceremony had just got to the series of tableaux that epitomised Cambourne's Britain -  the May Pole, Morris dancing, cricket and the pub on the village green when it became clear something was not right, he was sure the 'players' in the village pub were not supposed to be throwing up all over the place. That is not what Cambourne considered archetypally 'British'.

In a beautifully appointed hacienda in Millingavie,  Murphy and Rodin were sitting in front of Murphy's 72 inch plasma screen in fully recline able leather armchairs, watching the Olympic tableaux unfold, killing themselves with laughter. They both agreed the 'throwing up' was a more realistic English pub scene than the one which had been originally intended. They clinked their glasses of Bowmore in celebration, the lights flickered in the house as in a thunder and lightening storm and the picture from the Olympic Arena went off air. Murphy reset the CScryedB HD box, in case the lightening storm had effected it, but there was nothing on any of the London Olympic channels or London based news channels. It was as if someone had dropped a nuclear weapon on London. Fox News USA said they had lost all contact with their London centre, it appeared that a massive power black out had hit the city and they would report on what had happened just as soon as they knew themselves. It was 8:05pm.

Gemima Grayling was sitting in the flat at Bute House with her feet curled up on the sofa when the lights flickered, she shrugged her shoulder's and returned to reading the latest Ian M Banks 'Culture' science fiction novel, munching the occasional cider vinegar crisp while sipping from a glass of decent Bordeaux. Her mobile rang, she looked at the caller ID, it was her chief of staff, Seonidh - did a girl never get a break. "Aye, what's up - thought you were Olympic Games fixating? ..... You are kidding me? ... Black outs across England - do we know why? ....... shit, that's a bummer ... Get as many of the team, that are in Edinburgh, here in half an hour and get the Lothian and Borders Chief of Police here as well, along with some one from Scottish Power who actually knows what they are talking about. Can we raise any of our people at the Olympic Stadium? ...  Suppose so, the local cell masts will be down. Reuters are reporting what? ....... Get the political editors from both BBC Scotland and STV here as well or at least available on conference call because the shit is about to hit the fan, big style."

Dennie and Lennie were in the pub in Dalmelington watching the BBC Olympic opening ceremony program. They had just noticed the BBC Cameras had tracked away from the pub scene (folk were actually throwing up live on the BBC, surely not?) when the screen went blank and no amount of colourful swearing by the barmaid, Lovely Linda, (whose vocabulary could strip the paint off the walls), thrashing the handset or switching the Pubserve HD box on and off brought up anything else but a blank screen. Dennie thought for a bit and then went along the street to the RBS cash machine and, right enough, his account was now £1,000 better off than it had been earlier in the day. He sucked his cheeks and wandered back to tell Lennie the news - whether the news was good or bad, was too early to surmise.

Cambourne began to get worried when the nice English 'chaps' enjoying a pint of bitter outside 'Ye Olde Queen's Head' started throwing up - he tried to put it down to nerves but this really did not work in his minds eye. When the Morris Dancers started chucking up he realised the whole 'kit and caboodle' was beginning to unravel. It was at that point his PPS had worked along the row behind him to whisper in Cameron's shell like ear about the bomb at the Olympic Aquatic Centre that the lights went out across the Olympic Stadium. It took a few seconds for Cambourne's eyes to adjust to the insipid, sterilised milk light of the emergency evacuation system when they did he saw Her Majesty and the rest of the Heads of State were on their way out of the stadium at the rush. In the deafening silence Cambourne could clearly hear the sound of vomiting coming up from the 'British' tableaux below. Just then his own protection squad had his wife and his good self whisked off to safety with their feet hardly touching the ground at any point. As Cambourne was waiting in the 'safe area', while his protection team brought the car round, he glimpsed Boris heading his way and as he turned to face him Cambourne was felled by a straight right to his nose. Boris then grabbed Cambourne's suit lapels, pulled the still dazed and now nasally incompetent Cambourne to within a few inches of a spume and spittle filled burst of uncontained vitriol:

" What the fuck have you done to my Olympics, Cambourne, what the fuck have you done?"

Over in a corner the US Republican Presidential nominee was explaining to Fox News's UK political editor that he knew the Brit Olympics would be a disaster. The Brits were useless when it came to organising big events with there two narrow roads, constant labour strikes and such a terrorist attack could never happen in the US because of her far more effective control of subversives and right to carry a gun. With Fox, Mutt Rumblebelly was on safe grounds as the red neck yahoos who populated the station would never remind Mutt of the Atlanta Game's fiasco, the small matter of New York's twin towers or the statistics of how many Americans kill other Americans and themselves, on a daily basis, through their 'right to bear arms'.

The National Grid Control Centre was now in complete panic. The sudden drop of High Voltage had caused the nuclear reactors in England to trip out and shut down to emergency mode which would take an hour to reset and get back on line. The gas powered stations had cut back in straight away and were at full tilt - as were the remaining coal fired stations. The French HVDC inter-connector was at full bore but the senior controller was loudly berating the failure of politicians and endless planning inquiries whose impact on England was to guarantee a shortage of both base load via the unfinished Dutch HVDC inter connector and the lack of incinerator plants and other 'organic' options to smooth peak demand. They had lost Scotland and along with it 11% of base load capacity for England and Wales along with 15% of peak smoothing capability. Reports just reaching them was the local sub stations at the Olympic Park had exploded and were now on fire but the panicking exit of 50,000 spectators meant there was next to no chance of the London Fire Brigade getting anywhere near them.

In the HSBC Building on Canary Wharf the emergency generators had been slow to pick up so overheated servers burst into flames crashing all HSBC cash machines, trading floors, cash transmission and foreign currency deals which had currently been using the London server hub. HSBC were not the only Canary Wharf outfit in similar trouble. The buses were overcrowded as passengers fought to get away from the Olympic Park and had worked out the Tube would not be operating. The lack of traffic lights meant junctions were already starting to rack up collisions at a high rate of knots which were accompanied by fisticuffs all the way to pitched battles and further grid lock across London. London Reuters would have loved to see the SNLA message on 'Your a Tube' but with out power, internet or wifi they were just going to have to give it a miss, for now.

Gemima Gray and her team had no such difficulty in accessing the 'Your a Tube' SNLA video message and listened to a faux Scottish accent that had more to do with 'See You Jimmy' wigs than 'guid Lallands'. This second tape was clearly a far more professional take which had been 'dumbed down' to make it look amateur. The Chief Constable of Lothian and Border's Police was firmly of the opinion the second message was in the style and form of a SIS / SAS covert operation. This would go some way to explaining the secret arrival of SAS teams in the borders and the reason why a mile of HV pylons on both main transmission lines south were now simply scrap metal scarring the Southern Uplands. The political editors of both BBC Scotland and STV watched and listened via Skype with ever increasing amazement while they were briefed on what the Scottish Government knew about 'Operation Cockleshell' along with E-mailed transcripts of the conversation between Gemima Grayling and the Secretary of State for Scotland on the previous Thursday, exposing 'Cockleshell'.

It was then the turn of Scottish Power's senior engineer he was of the view it would take the best part of a month to reinstate the HV pylons and power lines to England. They could boost the 440v local distribution network along the border which would help out English border towns' supply but they could not use the Northern Ireland HVDC inter-connector to shift power back to England via the Sellafield / Northern Ireland inter connector as the excess capacity on the Scotland / Northern Ireland end was minimal. Anyway it was his opinion the National Grid control room would look to stop supplying power to Northern Ireland via the Sellafield inter connector and expect Scotland to pick up the Northern Ireland demand. Gemima managed to stop him before he went into even more esoteric electrical engineering concepts.

In under an hour the Scottish Government were able to make a full statement to the international press corps now jamming the road in front of Bute House. In a blaze of TV lighting and flashing cameras Gemima appeared on the top step and stated she was making a statement on behalf of the Scottish Government and the Sovereign People of Scotland. Gemima then went on joyously putting the metaphorical boot into Cambourne, the Secretary of State for Scotland and Westminster in general for the damage their out of control 'SNLA' stunt to derail the referendum had caused the UK in general and Scotland, in particular. Sorry, she would not be taking any questions as she and her cabinet were in emergency meetings the rest of the night to see how best they can assist the people of England and Wales at this time. A plainer speaker would have simply given Cambourne two fingers and advised him to look forward to some sex and travel - at the rush.

Gemima then had a very interesting video conference with her Welsh counterpart, Sion Glyndower, and the Irish Tioseach about how they could further discomfit Westminster while keeping the people of England onside.

It was ten o'clock before Cambourne made it back to Downing Street through the mayhem of a blacked out London to find, without any prompting from him, the whole cabinet had assembled along with the Party chair, treasurer and leader of the 1922 Committee. The fan had been hit dead centre and now the others were wanting to know just how far it was going to spread. Boris has somehow arrived before Cambourne and was already pointing the finger. Cambourne excused himself to clean up the dried on blood from his face and while doing so had his PPS get hold of the Chief of the Defence Staff to find out why the SAS leg of Cockleshell had not been stopped. The SIS being blinded sided and the Olympic Aquatic Centre being damaged he could have coped with but not the blackout.

In Cambourne's telephone call with the Chief of Defence Staff, the Major General made clear he had made every effort to ensure the SAS role in 'Cockleshell' had been cancelled but without any cancellation code a joint SAS /SIS effort was out with his control and, with respect Prime Minister, the written operation order for 'Operation Cockleshell', I have in my hand, makes clear the Head of Internal Affairs was the only one who could have initiated a stand down once 'Cockleshell' had been activated. The responsibility to cancel Cockleshell lay with De Woodehead or his deputy, no doubt acting on the Prime Minister's authority. The Chief of Defence Staff continued by stating he had recorded their conversation in the presence of the First Sea Lord and the Marshall of the RAF, would have a written transcript made which would be attested and notarised with copies placed with each of their personal solicitors. We trust the Prime Minister understands our actions in this instance. Too right I understand your actions, thought Cambourne, you are ensuring minimum come back on your good selves and battening yourself down in the Northwood Command bunker until this blow's over.

His PPS then briefed him on the power situation and explained the nuclear reactors were coming back on line but due to problems with their heat exchangers could not be safely run at a much higher output with out the agreement of the Nuclear Safety Inspectorate. According to the National Grid people they could keep all the lights on in London but at the expense of rolling black outs across the rest of England and Wales and even if the Nuclear plants could get authorisation to run at 60 to70% output, from their present maximum safe operating output of 50%, there would still need to be rolling blackouts at peak times. The current situation at the Aquatic Centre was until the pump room and electrical power room had been pumped out they would be unable to assess the extent of the damage.

The SIS end of 'Cockleshell' had an ironic laugh at how they had been left looking stupid but equally well knew that going after the 'Scottish Defence League' in any overt form was only going to end in tears. The Orange Order spokesman's press release had made that clear - McPhail had been blown, it happens, and the best place for him was to stay in Fiji for the next three years. Time to clean away the evidence to thwart any future National Security Select Committee enquiry. There would be other chances to get back at Murphy and his friends. The SIS believed in the adage that revenge was a dish best served cold. Down in Hereford, the SAS were thinking and acting in much the same manner.

Cambourne now realised the only 'ace' he held was to blame the 'Gritstone' oik for acting out with his authority as a junior civil service clerk and deliberately misunderstanding what he had told him over the activation of 'Cockleshell'. Time to set his PR folk running Operation 'Who me guv?' and start putting out the disaster was caused by a rogue civil servant in league with the Scottish National Liberation Army. Cambourne set his mind in the right state to brass out the next hour before receiving the information about the 'Gritstone' oik's role from 'intelligence sources'.

Over in the Scottish Office the night oil was being burnt as Dinwoodie's team dug deeper and deeper into the morass of New Labour's Glasgow ties to Scottish Organised crime and the New Labour MP's he could lean on heavily. O'Hallohan's name kept on arriving in a prominent position on many counts. At around one in the morning on Dinwoodie's return from Downing Street, he received a text from a 'friend' suggesting the person they needed to get hold of was a low grade civil servant called Grindstone who had worked in Internal Affairs and was now on gardening leave until he retired in three years time. The next text included an address in Woking. The text following said he better be there before the programmed anti-terrorist police raid set for seven am. Dinwoodie called for his own car and headed out for the M3 and Woking, with only his PPS for company, telling no one else where he was going. They would just assume he and Angela were heading off some where for elicit sex and cover for him in the agreed way - maybe later, thought Dinwoodie as he looked across to the delectable Angela, but getting to Grindstone first, was far more important.

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