Magazine article The Spectator

Thoroughtly Spooked Out

Magazine article The Spectator

Thoroughtly Spooked Out

Article excerpt

FOLLOWING the imbroglio last week at the MI6 out-station in Prague, I have come into possession of a recent and highly confidential exchange of correspondence which I am able to publish exclusively in The Spectator. F.F.

From: John 'Tango' Trubshaw, Dunspookin, Morse Parva,


For: Brian 'Buffy' Parsons, Controller/Big Jobs, The Firm,

Vauxhall Cross, SE etc.

Dear Buffy,

Long time no see, or hear for that matter. It seems an age, well it has been ten years, since I got the P45, handed in the microdot loupe and left Century House for the last time. Quite a bunfight we had that night, what? End of the Cold War, end of Tango Trubshaw. Great days, thinking back, when you and I used to patrol the Iron Curtain and regularly bugger the East German border guards.

Down here Mildred and I soldier on. She's a damn good stick; does the garden and the washing-up, lets a chap have time off for a round of golf. But I mustn't rattle on. That's not what I am writing about, but rather something I thought might give you pause for thought. East Berlin.

Last month, Mildred and I took a Saga coach tour of Eastern Europe. Old times' sake, don't you see, touch of nostalgia. Anyway, our driver swerved down the Bratwurst Allee in East Berlin- and there it was! My old HQ, still above the pet-food store. Of course I couldn't resist popping in for a chat with the new team. Don't worry; I made sure there were no Stasis about. Anyway, I gave the girl behind the millet counter the old guff about the cranes flying over the Volga tonight and she jerked a thumb towards the ceiling, so I went up.

The new head of station received me in his office, sitting at my old desk, would you believe? He seems a pretty pleasant sort of fellow, but I admit to being surprised to find him in a very fetching ball gown of cream organdie. Obviously he was on a deep-cover mission, but I thought it fair to warn him that his cover as a Bulgarian ballet dancer might be blown if he stuck with the moustache and briar pipe. I thought he gave me a rather puzzled look.

His secretary was a nice young gal just out of Roedean--black leather kit, tattooed knuckles, crew-cut, but I'm sure she'll settle in. The third in the team was a younger fellow, a brilliant imitation of a punk rocker. He suggested we share a joint, but it was hours from lunchtime and anyway Mildred hasn't eaten red meat for years.

It was only on the coach ride home that the worm of doubt began to gnaw and I decided to drop a line. Look, I know it is probably none of my business, need-toknow and all that, but it occurred to me that the East Berlin team might have been penetrated.

Anyway, yours till hell freezes etc.,


From: Buffy Parsons, Controller/Big Jobs, The Firm, Vauxhall Cross, SE etc.

For: 'Tango' Trubshaw, Dunspookin, Morse Parva, Dorset

Dear Tango,

How damn good to hear from you and get your news. Sorry for the late reply; I was away on an IRA Reconciliation course at the Mowlam Institute at Crossmaglen.

Yes, it has been a long time and I'll be out to pasture myself by the summer. Actually, not too sorry; things really have changed around here. Incidentally, I wouldn't tell just anybody about `buggering East German border guards'. We both know you meant `comprehensively get the better of, but things are taken more literally nowadays. …

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