Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bitter Together: Chapter 4. The 'Wet Paper Bag' Test

 As the book idea is coming together the mean direction of travel has shifted so rather than calling the book 'Operation Cockleshell' the working title is now 'Bitter Together'

Blair Cambourne's permanent secretary stood calmly waiting for the prime minister's questions and responses to the conversation he had undertaken with the cabinet permanent secretary, on the prime minister's behalf, about the Internal Affairs Department and its future. The permanent secretary could not help letting a 'know it all' smirk cross his lips, this was going to be fun.

Cambourne looked up just as the smirk disappeared and asked why the number 2 at Internal Affairs was not in the office with the permanent secretary. Where was Ms Cake?

Cambourne's face became redder and redder as the permanent secretary explained that Ms Cake was not here because she had resigned and there was no point in the prime minister screaming 'she can't do that' because she had and it was all above board. The 'How?', sir . Well apparently she was one of those brought from outside of the civil service as part of your prime ministerial campaign to 'ginger the moribund civil service up'. She had been employed by Sir Nigel on a non standard contract when she had been head hunted from McKenna, McKenna and McKenna, one of the City's biggest law firms, to help head up Internal Affairs. Part of that contract stated if she was offered an assistant commissioner's post in the EU she could resign forthwith, without notice. Apparently when the cabinet permanent secretary called her at seven this morning she was already on the red eye Eurostar to Brussels to take up her new post as the assistant commissioner at the European Development Fund and she referred him to the exact sub clause. No, sir, we can not use our contacts in Brussels to stop her as we do not have any to use in this case. You fell out rather publicly with Ms Legrande, the commissioner at the EU Development Fund, over the EU regional loans she and Ms Grayling had organised for Scotland with out reference to Westminster. I believe you accused her of being a 'a mean spirited, Walloon gibbering, dyke bitch' which while perhaps having some truth to it, was not exactly diplomatic nor of much merit.

The permanent secretary was now enjoying himself immensely, as only a comprehensive boy from Walthamstow made good, could, watching an Old Etonian, silver spoon in mouth, millionaire flounder. He felt the urge to say the catch line from the inane Irish comedian of his youth, Jimney Cricket, '... and there's more!'.

The permanent secretary went onto explain to the prime minister how the cabinet secretary had blocked any move to bring Internal Affairs under the full control of the Home Office and made clear his only involvement with Internal Affairs would be to protect his civil servants from the madness of politicians. He had been strongly against the quasi independent role of Internal Affairs within the Home Office, as was clear in his memo to the prime minister, and had no intention of pulling the prime minister's nuts out of this particular fire. He also made it very clear that when it came to the politician responsible for Internal Affairs there was only one such candidate, the prime minister as Sir Nigel had reported direct to him. He would, in good faith, do what could be done to stop the run away train before it did any more harm to the reputation of the civil service.

Cambourne knew what that meant - humble pie and the cabinet secretary and a couple of his pals raised to the House of Lords to join the vermin in ermine.

'Rat Face' picked Dennie and Lennie up from the bus station in Ayr. On the road trip from there to Kilmarnock Rail Station he had briefed them as Mr Rodin had requested, handed over the new pay as you go Asda mobile, the £1,000 expenses up front and instructions to head from Euston Station to Hackney and go to the Starbucks opposite the tube station where one of those black's with those hair lock thingies and funny coloured bobble hats would meet them outside the door at 8 pm tonight. He would be holding a copy of the Metro. They were to ask him if he knew the way to Albert Square, he would nod and they were to follow him.

The two young Scots were getting rather worried as the six foot eight Rastafarian with a joint dangling out of the corner of his mouth was menacingly moving towards them asking just who had put them up to this, who was trying to pull his chain when the Rastafarian on the other side of the door of Starbucks slouched over and said, 'Hey, bro I think dese two are for me.' There was the strange looking thumb touching, palm dragging, knuckle knocking and fist banging, the two Scots thought was extremely cool, handshake and the new guy nodded at them and walked off down the road. Like two excited puppies Dennie and Lennie followed him, rubber necking like mad at the sights and sounds of Hackney High Street with its West Indian vegetable shops, Soul Food joints, Halal Butchers and M&S Food Hall. Their guide turned off in to the entrance to a terrace, which looked like a close to the lads. The door closed behind them with a slam which caused them to jump and their guide took them up two flights of stairs to a room over looking a back street where two West Indians were beating ten kinds of shit out of a Sikh. Their guide looked out and said quietly, 'Didn't pay his taxes. You two are dossing here, I'll bring in food, lots of choice round here you can go foreign; chippies, Macdonalds, Kentucky or you can go local; meat an potato pie, korma or Thai ....'

'You BNP?', said Lennie of the death wish, 'It's just we were telt it wid be BNP geezers, ken?'

The guide's arm snaked out, grabbed Lennie's hoodie front and dangled him a couple of feet off the floor; 'Do I look BNP, do I fuckin' look like a white supremacist, do I have a Union Jack tattooed across dese knuckles ..' At the miniscule distance the guide's knuckles were from Lennie's nose there was no way of telling, so Lennie shook his head, 'We square then you Jockanese twat, we have nothin' to do with dose Neanderthals, I work for one of Mr Rodin's business friends and we're lookin' out for you as a favour but if you continue to piss me off that'll soon change.' Lennie's feet touched the ground once more, 'Understand?' Dennie and Lennie nodded vigorously, 'So what you want as your snap? One of my boys 'll bring it you along wiff half a dozen Becks, OK?' Lennie and Dennie were now nodding so fast it was surprising their heads didn't fall off, 'You two better be clean, shaved an ready cos tomorrow you bein' inducted into the Olympic swimming pool security staff, courtesy of Lord Crowe's 'Abuse the unemployed on the cheap' scheme. At least you'll have this flat to come back to - for a lot of your work mates it'll be a card board box near Liverpool Street Station, it's the same scam they worked for the Diamond Jubilee in June.'

Spud Murphy's private phone rang, he listened, nodded his head and just said, 'Right' before replacing the handset.

'Bravo 8.'
'Bollocks, Rod, you've just assassinated President Obama."
'Who've you got left ..... Angela Merkel ....  world domination 'll soon be mine, Dan old chum.'
'Rod? Do you think they've forgotten about us?'
'Could be, Dan, just could be. Zulu 5.'

Grindstone's meeting with the Cabinet Permanent Secretary over 'Cockleshell' could have gone worse but for the life of Grindstone, he could not see how. Grindstone's main fault was his failure to get the order confirmed in writing by the Prime Minister, the cirrhotic Sir Nigel or the late Madelaine Cakes. As the Cabinet Secretary raged away at him Grindstone's beaten child was just about to scream out about the tapes he had made, to defend him from the verbal onslaught, when he heard the calm adult voice saying do not tell him, we need the information for later and then telling his ranting parent to shut up as he was as useless as the manic child. The worm turned just ever so much more confidently. Make sure we do not tell him about the bank debit card and card reader either, we will need them to keep us out of prison. When the Cabinet Secretary had left Internal Affairs saying he could probably stop this mess from happening with his links to the SIS and SAS, Grindstone felt calm for the first time in his life when under stress, Grindstone understood rather than blindly panicking and reacting to circumstance, he had a plan.

The Cabinet Secretary talked to the boss of the SIS and without either of them ever saying what was going on they managed to agree that if there was something going on then the Chief of the SIS would now ensure it would be stopped from going on. The Chief of the Defence staff was less forthcoming in his meeting as he could not see how he could recall an SAS squad, he had not authorised to deploy, did not know what the deployment was or where it was and if it was an SIS / SAS operation no one at Hereford would admit the operation ever existed and the Chief of the Defence Staff must be confused. Eventually the Cabinet Secretary insisted the Chief of the Defence staff called Hereford and spoke to the Colonel in charge.

'Look old chap I know that as this is an SIS/SAS op, you will know as much as me about it (which is bugger all) but according to the Cabinet Secretary (and how he knows he can't tell me) there is a combined op been sanctioned called 'Cockleshell'. Apparently this operation has gone off at half cock and the prime minister, who authorised it, now wants it stopped.......  Yes, I know there should be a cancellation code but for some stupid reason one was not set up. The chapette at SIS is going to see what she can do to shut her end of the operation, she also does not know about, down -  if you get the gist - and I was wondering if you could do the same your end......... right, I see without a cancellation code your ops people will tell you there is no such operation .... how about a head count?   ........ no, I see the problem there, anyway put the word about could you that if 'Cockleshell' exists, it should cease to do so, asap, to keep the prime minister happy..... Good man, give my love to Chrissy, yes, I'll send your regards to Liz, bye."

On the South Bank the female boss of the SIS was less easy going and it only took a couple of E-mails to folk  who had told her about links to Internal Affairs to speak to the cell leader of the SIS end of 'Cockleshell'. It turned out that while the Scottish end of the operation had apparently triggered a response the two lads had never turned up at the rendezvous with their 'BNP Cell' in South London. Now all contact with the chief at the Glasgow end had been lost, the agreed sim card was non-contactable. The most likely reason was the Unionist SDL had somehow discovered it was a set up and as they had not taken any money, called it off. So even with out the instruction from the boss 'Cockleshell' had been wound down as being a 'blown operation' - it happens all the time. The boss of SIS made her call to the Cabinet Secretary and was met with a clear sigh of relief as it would appear the SIS end of 'Cockleshell' was a non starter.

The Cabinet Secretary decided not to tell the Prime Minister the good news that his nuts were out of the fire until the Friday briefing, it would do him good to stew for a few days in the run up to the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Maybe in future he would understand a Cabinet Secretary's memo to the prime minister was, in fact, an instruction.

Spud Murphy was a known 'respectable businessman'. He had not only been president of his local Rotary Club but had worked his way up to be his local District President and was currently worming his way up over the fences and through the ditches of the RIBI - his next ambition was to be RIBI President. His good works for charities in Glasgow's East End were well known and his championing of Glasgow's 'Kick Institutional Sectarianism in Touch' kept him in the Evening Standard either side of most 'Old Firm' derbies. KIST had been his idea, his wee undertaker style joke that they would take the dead body of Glasgow's sectarianism and put it in its 'kist', nailed down never to return. Murphy had also recently become aware that Strathclyde's finest were snooping around his business as part of their Organised Crime Operation, one of the senior constabulary members had let it 'slip' at a recent Masonic meeting (the membership of which would raise an eye or two at his local Catholic church of Saint John the Maxton, if the priest got wind) -  a purely business related membership as was his rather out of kilter membership of the Orange Lodge. Murphy liked to have a lots of fingers in a lot of pies, to the extent he had to occasionally borrow other folk's fingers from time to time - but he usually did put them back.

DS Ambodach of Strathclyde Police’s Organised Crime Prevention Squad was very interested in Mr Murphy. Mainly in the special service Ambodach suspected Murphy ran for the McGovern Syndicate. Apparently while other folk launder cash for the McGoverns, Murphy’s business laundered corpses. The team had noted on occasions where some minor member of a gang or business associate who was getting to be an irritation that, just after Mr Rodin had paid a visit, a black van - popular with undertakers - would turn up, a gurney would be rolled out and a body bag rolled back in on the gurney. The routine used to be that said body would then turn up at the Tail of the Bank, say, in four to six weeks time but in the last six months this had ceased happening. On one occasion Mr Rodin failed to pay the family compensation for the rapid departure of their chief bread winner and Doug the Bam’s wife made a formal complaint to the Polis. For once his team had an excuse to go after Rodin and get him behind bars. Hopefully this time for a decent stretch (say 25 years) rather than the previous occasion when eight years in the 'Bar L' ended up as only two after an interesting arrangement between the Strathclyde Police Board and the Glasgow Fiscal‘s Office which had never been fully explained to the Organised Crime Squad who had sent him down in the first place. They gathered all the evidence, witness statements with full corroboration, sent it to the Fiscal's Office and waited for the case to be agreed as worthwhile, prior to arresting Mr Rodin. To their huge surprise and dismay they were told the Fiscal would not open a case on this issue. There was a special alibi provided by the Fiscal‘s Office itself, the victim’s death certificate. The Death Certificate stated he had died from a brain haemorrhage and been cremated. Sure enough in the Glasgow Fiscal's office there was the official record of Doug the Bam's demise, all above board and had been signed off for disposal by the depute fiscal.  DS Ambodach knew the brain haemorrhage had been caused by a 9 mm pistol round but with no body, there was no proof. It turned out Doug's funeral and cremation had been provided under the auspices of Mr Murphy's economy funeral chain - Dead End Collections.

DS Ambodach had managed to get a phone tap authorised without his senior officer's knowledge - he thought - but someone had blabbed, that was clear from the increasingly furtive nature of Mr Murphy's telephone 'business contacts' with members of the McGovern Syndicate. One word had triggered his interest in a conversation between Murphy and Rodin - 'Cockleshell'. Apparently the original set up of 'Cockleshell' had been changed and a new operation 'Bugger Cockleshell' had been put in its place. 'Bugger Cockleshell' appeared to cause much hilarity between Murphy and Rodin as they were looking forward to seeing it on live TV at the weekend. It was just Seonidh had been talking to him about some Unionist plot to kill the 'Yes to Independence' campaign which just happened to be called 'Cockleshell' before they went to sleep last night, that triggered his interest.

That night, while having a post coital canoodle, Pheadhir Ambodach told Seonidh of the  nature of the conversation between Murphy and Rodin regarding 'Cockleshell'. Seonidh became very happy and very excited; happy and excited enough to give Pheadhir second helpings.

The following morning's personal briefing by Seonidh to Gemima was about the apparent failure of 'Cockleshell' proper and the likelihood the new operation was outside Internal Affair's, and therefore the prime minister's, control which had them wetting themselves with excitement at the potential political mischief making both at home, in Westminster and across the world they could trigger. The biggest live TV event this weekend was the Olympic Opening Ceremony, so just how badly was 'Cockleshell' going to backfire - that was the new question. First Minister's Questions would be a good place to start spiking Westminster's propaganda guns.

No comments:

Post a Comment