Sunday, 1 July 2012

Operation Cockleshell - 3. Stirring the Porridge

Gemima set her aides to watching the headlines and political columns of the Condem's and New Labour parties in Scotland, the Hootsmon and the Daily Retard respectively. One thing would be for sure and that was at some point either the Secretary of State for Scotland, Rennie Dimwoody, or the New Labour opposition puppet at Holyrood, Daphne McMorrin, would release a statement on 'growing terrorist concerns' and seek to bypass her, as First Minister, as yet another put down to poor, wee, stupid Scotland wanting to 'go it alone'. The message would be 'If you vote for Independence all these nutters will turn Scotland into a basket case' but at least it would be in banal political speak in the case of the Secretary of State; as for Daphne, thought Gemima, she would just come out with the message in the raw. Maybe that was a way in. The Bute House Team knew that Daphne and Rennie were at dagger's drawn and could not stand the sight of each other. It was not at a Libdem / New Labour level but personal. What was the link? Gemima pointed to her most trusted aide and requested she did some digging into the pair of them's student days. There was a nagging memory that they had both been at Glasgow Uni at around the same time.

The SDL Army Council's meeting was being held in the snooker room of the Bellshill Orange Lodge. Of course in the bizarre world these heroes of Unionism lived there was not really a meeting going on just a few mates getting together for a 'few bevvies' and a 'gemme'. Just in case Strathclyde's finest had gotten wind and had bugged the place. The meeting took place amongst actual games of snooker, this clearly made debate and decision making most surreal. As McPhail entered the snooker room it was clear the Scottish Government's break through legislation on smoking in public places held no writ here. Smoke hung like an inversion layer at the level of the table lights, the click of snooker balls, the already empty Tennent’s Extra Cold Lager glasses on the tables' edge and wall to wall swearing indicated to McPhail he was the last to arrive.

"So yer sayin' weez aa pretend tae be the Scottish National Liberation Army ... brown ... b'stardin cush, a hud a guid break goan ... an disrupt the sychra, sinkro .... thon female fannies wi the nose clips an flowery hats at the Olympics an bugger up thir competition ... ye kiddinae hit yer wife wi' a piece o lead piping , Spud ..... see that ... that's the wae .... blue .... neatly oan tae the next red if I say so ma' sel ... bugger, in aff .....  and the Unionist fowk at Westminster 'll be able tae kill the SNP stane deid by cryin' them nae better than the PIRA ...... haund us the rest pal .... black .... Spud that's how you screw - nae wunner your doll looks elsewhere fir her fun ....."

McPhail was getting to the point where his training in how to turn a cotton bud into a lethal weapon was starting to look very useful when there was a call, 'Fur a general bevvie'. Somehow the other ten men had been briefed on what was a foot and a decision was about to be made, " Deal 'r nae deal?" said the Chief of Staff, to which the answer 'Deal' was the unanimous response. An operations team of Spud Murphy, Big Eck McDonell and Shuggie Dewar were designated to 'Git yon stairheid rammie goan'. McPhail said he would make contact with his 'pals' in the English Defence League and BNP in London and get them to organise a safe house, transport and back up for the assault team, they would contact Spud direct on his mobile. It was agreed there would be no further meetings of the Army Council until the 'pish up tae celebrate thir success'. This was, McPhail supposed, their version of 'need to know' security.

McPhail entered the SIS flat in Partick and telephoned a London number. All McPhail said was, “George Crumpet has just moved in.” and put the telephone handset down on its cradle. He then picked it back up and in quick succession got himself a first class berth on the sleeper from Glasgow Central to London that night, booked a taxi, started to pack and day dream about white tropical sands, blue seas, coconut palms, dusky maidens and never, ever having to drink another pint of the ‘pish‘ they call Tennent‘s Extra Cold Lager.

“How about a change of scenery, Rod?
“Sounds a good idea, Dan.”
The two SAS men turned in their muddy hole and faced the opposite way round.

Grindstone had only just logged on to his work station when there were two calls in quick succession. The first from the SIS required a bit of fumbling with the bank card and card reader but when he checked the seven digit prime number against the responses available it was clear ‘Cockleshell’ was a go and the attack on the Olympic synchronised swimming competition was underway. The second call was from the PPS to the Prime Minister who told him to get his arse across to number ten, yesterday. Grindstone being an archetypal civil servant completed the thing’s to do list for Cockleshell which included releasing £250,000 to the Cockleshell fund, now being run by the SIS (he presumed), held in an offshore fund in the Cayman Islands. Grindstone’s worm smelled something fishy but the loud, panicking yelling of Grindstone’s consciousness about preparing a brief for the Prime Minister made it hard to work out just what the worm was smelling; at least the worm managed to get Grindstone to copy the calls onto the memory stick - someone had to look after number one.

"So what you are telling me ....", the word 'boy' automatically came up on Crambourne's internal teleprompt. Luckily the bit of him that occasionally recognised there was a world outside of his head cut in to edit, " Gritstone, is there appears to be no way to halt 'Cockleshell' once it is started."
"Yes, prime minister. I believe that is why Sir Nigel set it up as a stated action of last resort, once embarked on, it is unstoppable."
"Surely you can contact the controllers at both the SIS and SAS .... ?"
"No, Sir. The contact numbers are specific to each level of activation and delivery of 'Cockleshell'. Sir Nigel deliberately set 'Cockleshell' up to create minimum traceability between Internal Affairs and the other two agencies. The responses are encoded into seven digit prime numbers from the number given over the telephone and then ... "
"Enough, Gritstone, enough .... I can tell Sir Nigel has been his usual excessively meticulous and precise self in his setting up of this operation (the bastard) and we now have as much control over it as a turd has of the London sewers."
"I think that sums it up accurately, sir."
"Your next contact from either agency will be at which point?"
"When the date of the attack on the Olympic Synchronised Swimming is known."
".. and you are absolutely certain there is no code in that brief which will deactivate 'Cockleshell'?"
"There is no such code, sir."
"Close the door behind you as you go out, Gritstone."
Once Cambourne heard the door click shut with the obsequiousness of the lowest of the low civil servant. He  then repeatedly banged his head on the green leather blotter in front of him alternating each bang of his head with the word, 'fuck'. His PPS entered five minutes later and found the prime minister badly concussed, wandering in ever smaller circles.

There was something Spud Murphy did not sense was straight in McPhail's dealings with the SDL Army Council. He could not quite put his finger on it but felt it in his 'water' even though McPhail's Orange Lodge credentials had more than checked out. This was the psychic or even supernatural sense of Murphy's 'water' which had enabled him to climb the Orange Lodge' s hierarchy whilst avoiding a lot of political and physical traps his fellow travellers had set in his path. To become a Grand Master of the Orange Lodge meant you were not at home to Mr Stupid, maybe Mr Devious and certainly Mr Backstabber, but never Mr Stupid. In certain Orange Lodges, such as the one Murphy now lead, being at home to even neo-natal Stupid would lead to concrete wellies and a swim in the Clyde at high tide.

He heard the front door of the funeral parlour open, the quiet sussurance of receptionist's calm voice and then his desk intercom spoke out,
" A Mr Dewar to see you, Mr Murphy, he says it is of a personal nature."
"Show him through, please, Euphemia and bring's two coffee's while you are at it."

"You lost him, Shug?"
" Aye, it wis as if he ken't he wis bein' follit."
"He did the ol' switcheroo on the underground at the SECC. I wis lucky cos just as the car wis poo'in oot I saw him oan the stairs hiedin fur the exit, ither wise he'd hae shot the craw. I pit the wurd oot tae Louis' blokes at Glasgow Airport security an took ma'sel tae Glasgow Central fur a swallie and tae keep an ee oot."
"Am certain I saw the bastirt gettin oan the Lunnon Sleeper, furst cless, ken, nae less. A funt the cab that brocht him and thon driver said his fare had been some posh English get wha he'd picked up in Partick just roon't frae the station. Here's the close nummer ...."
" Shug, I think we are being taken for mugs by MI5, we are being set up and I bet our operatives would have walked into a trap. That's fine and well, I suppose, to save the Union but to do it behind our backs and take us for mugs, is just not on."
"R' ye cancelling the op' then, Mr Murphy?"
"No, just the target - I think the target should be during the opening ceremony..." Murphy reached over and pressed a button on the intercom.
" Yes, Mr Murphy?"
"Can you get hold of Mr Rodin on my private line, please."
"Yes, Mr Murphy."
" I'm thinking of disrupting the ‘pretendy England’ bit of the opening ceremony, good for a laugh as well as making a strong political point for the SNLA. We'll send a couple of backs woods men on McPhail's goose chase but we’ll do the real bit all on our ownsome.”
“Yer the man, Mr Murphy”
“I am at that, Shug, I am at that.”
"Mr Murphy, Mr Rodin's on your private line", chirped Euphemia over the office intercom. Murphy waved bye to Shug, waited until the door closed and then picked up the telephone, "Louis, we need to chat ......"

Grindstone may well never, ever be rated the sharpest tool in the box in even Grindstone's own wildest dreams but he had managed to pick up on the prime minister's unhappiness over 'Cockleshell'. There was a silence in Grindstone's head he was not used to which allowed him, probably for the first time in his life, to hear a different voice in his head. This new voice did not scream like a child or yell at him like a parent but seemed to talk to him as an adult in an even and open manner. Grindstone took the time to listen to this calm, even handed voice as it asked him the following questions:

"Why do you think no one else would take this brief?"
"Why do you think Sir Nigel or Ms Cakes would trust you with this brief?"
"What would you do with £250,000?"

Damn, thought Grindstone's turning worm. I did not mean to let the last question slip out, just yet. Worm waited to hear what the over excited child or the dismissive parent was going to say but for once there was a deathly silence. Grindstone was apparently contemplating.

The First Minister's special aide hurried to Gemima's office door, knocked and waited for the call of 'enter' before walking in whilst also scanning the room and taking note of anyone else there. She noted with interest the Scottish Tory, Geoffrey Carnalba, exiting the door opposite as Gemima shook him by the hand and was telling him they must meet again soon. As Geoffrey exited along with Gemima's PPS, apparently continuing the conversation, Seonidh raised an eyebrow in Gemima's direction.

"He has got wind of the fiscal mess at Westminster, was interested how the Scottish Government was going to cope with the further inevitable drop in Westminster pocket money, as their finance shadow, but mostly to bitch about 'her leadership', good old Rosemary." said the first minister in reply to the unasked question.
"Anything new?"
"Yes and no. It appears the Scottish 'Monied' Tories, who basically used their 'donations' to do Cambourne's bidding and foist Rosemary on the Holyrood Tories, are having serious second and even third thoughts about having followed London's perceived wisdom. More importantly he has been chatting to New Labour's brighter boys in Scotland, Dalgleish and Bessom, about launching a devo-max option which he claims has the backing of the Scottish Tory Money and a sizable number of Scottish Labour's business backers and ex-backers."
"What about the New Labour back benchers?"
"There is 'unease' at Daphne's continuously negative 'megaphone' politics but with the STUC sitting on the fence, none of them will risk being seen to make any move against the UK New Labour party machine and especially if that involves talking with the old Scottish Labour pariahs - Dalgleish and Bessom. The poor lambs are still thinking 'safe Westminster seat with Union financial backing' at the next UK general election if they toe the line. Rather than; potential P45 if the 'Yes campaign' win the referendum and the likes of Darling, Davidson and Brown come looking for a safe seat in an independent Scotland's parliament. What have you got for me?"

Seonidh told Gemima what was at the heart of the Scottish Labour leader and the Libdem Scottish Secretary's mutual hatred of each other. Gemima nodded thoughtfully, said well done to Seonidh, no one else is to know - while keeping her thoughts about how best to use the new information close to her own chest.

Herbert 'Rat Face' McGraw had direct instructions from Mr Rodin about finding two 'lads' for a job in London. They needed to be presentable, understandable but no Einsteins. Rat Face had two suppliers who would fit the bill as they owed him big time for their break into the business, were not big users but a small explanation of just how badly 'Rat Face' could dump them in the thick and steaming with the Ayr Drug Squad would surely do the trick. There was also the £1,000 cash each, tax free (Rat Face would not be taking any cut), for the week's work in London, payable on their successful return, as well as £500 each, up front, for expenses. Dennie and Lennie, the failed Ayr FEC sociology students and second rate drug dealers from  Dalmelington, would be just right for Mr Rodin's wee job. So they would.

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