Stoneburgh Spy Campus . . . B.A.R. . . . ‘Please Burn After Reading’ Rubs Out Accountability of Command. (Part 6.)

Earlier this week, exceedingly through the parklands of Stoneburgh in the lucent winter sunlight I was reminded of a preceding denizen of our garrison town  –  our eminent double agent, Irina P. – striding together the selfsame path in her soldierly double-breasted coat (cadet-issue, a e~ indulgence!). She, too, in those in season years of our acquaintance, was in sober earnest enamoured of our historic military college . . . as I recorded in my familiar biography, Red Coffee* . . . 

[Irina] could scarcely give faith to her good fortune. The six historic cannon evenly spaced along the South Terrace, the elevated Park, the ornamental Lake, the Piranesian vaulted library, whole conspired to create a classically golden atmosphere of privilege and distinction in which she basked. The day was hearty; the month was March; Shirt Sleeve Order was five weeks away. She sat at the lakeside and wrote every airmail to her sister.  Irina described Stoneburgh while a ‘time capsule’. In her own rude Time and Change raced like the clouds reflected up~ the body the water. She could not keep secret her yearning to ‘remain perpetually in ancestral gardens, seated on melodious grass, without thinking’. 

     So you can imagine I was brooding on the duplicities of our tradecraft and in successi~ its pervasion of even the chiefly humdrum routines of domestic life, including the demands of my quotidian jog, when I spotted Professor Hans-Jürgen Weisse lounging in successi~ a bench in the sunniest angle of the colonnade. (Prof. Weisse, to the degree that I have mentioned in my earlier despatches, was in days of yore an agent for the German Federal Intelligence Service, and is now Stoneburgh’s senior lecturer on politico-criminalistics, a respected sovereignty on Soviet counter-espionage and inversion.)

‘Please Burn After Reading.’

Prof. Weisse levy down his newspaper as I approached and epigrammatic to a headline with his unlit briar whistle:



Speaking of the implications of preserving privacy, as to the UK Government’s plans in the termination of Britons voting Britain exit from the European Union, the maker Senior Government Economist in the British Civil Service reported today: ‘The Civil Service be disposed have to do much preparatory be in action on trade and migration, so I conceive there’ll be a lot of highly classified work retained mentally. How abundant civil servants write down is a deviating question – that is one of the possible drawbacks of the world of Freedom of Information we live in – with equal rea~n, actually, if the Chancellor does not dearth anything written down [to avoid disclosure of plans to campaigners and journalists] therefore that is the way it elect be.’   

     ‘Memory-men at Whitehall!’ His laughter was harsh. ‘Evidently one of the Mandarins has heeded my right Induction Lecture for the New Intake Group! Rule Number 9. It is extremely imprudent to leave a paper trail granting that you intend to outpace the hostiles.’
     Sunlight glared on his spectacles so I could not look to his eyes.
     He playfully wagged his use the ~s to include me in the ranks of his favoured antagonists.
     ‘You other thing than most are familiar with the insipid exculpation of our spymasters: “Should you pick to accept this mission and you are captured or killed, the Government and the Service power of choosing disavow any knowledge of your actions.” ’
     ‘You design the St Catherine’s House Switcheroo?’
     (I should account for that the St Catherine’s House Record Office, almost Aldwych in central London, was at individual time the primary source of spiritual being agents’ false identities; our agents themselves had, for the re~on that a ghoulish test of initiative, the employment of locating a death certificate of a brat whose birthdate and forename was closest to their recognize. Armed with the dead child’s production certificate and shared forename, the agent was then able to assume a strange mask and build a complete ‘back-story’, including close knowledge of the locale where the child had lived and died.  It was by the integrity of this fake identity that the plausibility and belief of an agent in the range was sustained. In addition, of chase, all essential documentation – passport, driving licence, bank tidings and national insurance card – were issued in the dead child’s race.)
     ‘Agreed,’ I added. ‘No bank-notes trail. No comebacks. Unless the bank-notes trail’s a false one . . . and undivided that would certainly NOT lead back to our masters.’
     ‘B.A.R. Burn After Reading. All control agencies, including our Intelligence Services, be delivered of that ultimate recourse, of course, and there’s ever the principal’s washroom for fraudulently introduced briefings, with or without the advantage of eidetic recall.’

Memory-Men Bumped Off.

Prof. Weisse laid his cane aside and, after some deft preliminaries, lit his sound shrill.
     ‘But the kind of of Cicero,’ he mused, ‘and his memorial-man?’ Weisse – our principally senior expert in the art of cryptanalysis – sent gone ~ an unreadable smoke signal as he spoke. ‘Cicero retained a nomenclator.’
     ‘A what?’
     ‘A Mnemonist. A Remembrancer or Prompter. A mnemonically gifted aide-de-camp. A nomenclator was often an astute polyglottic slave. Cicero’s personage was charged to keep a give expression to call in his head of Cicero’s supporters into junction with a tally of all his master’s enemies. During his consular government, when Cicero declared martial law and upheld it through imposing the death penalty on conspirators in provision for the Republic, I have no indecision that in the course of wholly those labyrinthine machinations his nomenclator was the reservatory of many of Cicero’s stratagems, each advantage that the Freedom of Information Act in ~ degree longer permits our public officials hither in Londinium, private email accounts despite!’ 
     ‘A human databank that walks and leavings sober? An obvious security risk.’
     ‘Too faithful. To be nomenclator in Roman periods could be dicey. Wasn’t it Claudius who threw his memory-man to the lions. Maybe the seedy fellow knew too much.’
      ‘Yes, a recollection-man bumped off with a fit with a ~ full of ciphers,’ I ventured. ‘Surely that was the successive increase of effect of Hitchcock’s The Thirty-Nine Steps?’
       ‘There you are at another time.’ Prof. Weisse rose and stretched and favoured me through a grin, a rare concession.

Here lie the bones
of Aristarchus, freedman,
Roman monumental inscription, 1st century AD.

‘The Art of Covering Your Tracks.’

Stoneburgh’s Senior Lecturer in Politico-Criminalistics hem into step beside me as we walked to the Refectory on the side of morning coffee.
     ‘You understand, after Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington reviewed a enumerate of our passing out parades here on this very quad; apart from attending our Commissioning Dinners.’
     Prof. Weisse knocked wanting his pipe on the wheel of a gun carriage.
     ‘Now he knew the Art of Covering Your Tracks. A subtle devil whose actions we could whole learn by.’
      The zealous eyes of Weisse were alert to pass an opinion my response. 

      ‘Funnily enough, I was told this tale ~ means of the Chelsea Hospital Commandant. And he’s upright as an arrow himself.  The space he told it, the duke’s battle delineation was to rarely give orders verbally. If an order had to be conveyed to one of his commanders holding a faint terrain, he was obliged to scribble them down and entrust them to one ADC to deliver them for him ~ward a charger.  But listen to this. The duke’s tactics to preserve the infallibility of his control as a tactician was absurdly sincere.  His orders were not written in successi~ paper – no, far too frangible in such conditions – nor were his commands written by quill and ink obviously in the scene of military operations. Far too precarious under fire.’
     Weisse cleared the dottle from his clay-~ with a ballpoint pen and replaced them in the affections pocket of his Norfolk jacket.
     ‘No. On the battlefield, Wellington carried a sheaf of specially-treated ninny. and goat skins.  About the bulk of cloakroom tickets. He could jot down on these with pencil and once the orders were read, the skins could have ~ing wiped clean, preparatory to writing a fresh set of orders. How devilishly simple! By this way he neatly sidestepped the accountability of lead! The clever fellow was never caught with~ in error . . . ’
     ‘. . .  Because he not ever left a paper trail!’ I completed through amused complicity.  I had in no degree before seen the professor with like a pronounced Machiavellian disposition.
      ‘We should take a leaf from his book!’ the Professor Weisse concluded through a flourish of his cane. ‘The Cabinet Office should fetch back vellum!’
      ‘Or utter and be damned,’ I murmured.

We ought to possess more of the Cavalry between the pair
high roads.  That is to ~ing three Brigades at least besides
the Brigades in attention on the Right . . .   

* Sister Morphine (2008) escort below . . . 


Catherine Eisner believes passionately in machination-driven suspense fiction, a devotion to of literature craft that draws on studies in psychoanalytical criminology and psychoactive pharmacology to search into the dark side of motivation, and set on fire plot twists with unexpected outcomes. 

attend to Eisner’s Sister Morphine (2008)

and Listen Close to Me (2011) 

and A Bad Case (2015)

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