FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY
Thursday Mr Brown arrives back from Brighton in thunderous mood. Even if you don't see him enter, you can often feel his presence two floors above, on the other side of Fort Knox, or -- in those moments that civil servants most fear -- walking around the canteen being nice. And this afternoon, the psychic barometer of the place is set at "death stalks the palace". So grim are things that, for the first time since I arrived here, a scared-eyed Red Dawn knocks on my door and asks whether she can come in and take shelter from the storm. She has been down by the sea alongside our tempestuous superior, negotiating with the Brothers. Unsuccessfully.
"He's ever so full of wrath, Lynton," she says, her voice trembling slightly. "You know how English people get angry, but only Scots get wrathful. Well, his wrath is wonderful to behold." Red Dawn speaks like this, for some reason. God knows she's not churchy, but she has appropriated biblical language and uses it whenever she is not describing something strictly technical. I think it's because she was once a Trot, and her whole vocabulary was founded around Trot words: "class", "struggle", "united", "action", "analysis" and -- of course -- "actually". With that whole language now history, she's falling back on what she remembers from RE lessons and hymns. Coming from her, it sounds rather affecting.
We sit together, as the Presence makes its dolorous passage through the reverberating corridors, howling silently into a thousand offices and frightening the secretaries. And Dawn tells me about no beer and no sandwiches with the ghastly trio of Rodney Bickerstaffe, John Edmonds and Len Podd.
"Truly, Lynton," says Dawn, "it was a bit like unto dealing with beings from beyond the grave. I say to Rodney that we will do well by pensioners in the Budget, but that we cannot bring back …