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It is not convenient.

 

Thank you.

 

( st man) You can't think of any reason why a book editor called Katya Orlova

 

should risk her neck to send you a manuscript?

 

Barley?

 

Who said..."risk her neck"?

 

I did.

 

- Must be quite a book. - It is.

 

- May I see it? - Let's begin with the letter.

 

(groans)

 

"Personal. For Mr Bartholomew Scott Blair. Urgent. "

 

We'd like to find out why a woman you don't know should send you a letter

 

beginning "My beloved Barley", and sign herself "Your loving K".

 

She's potty. Certifiable.

 

Where is this manuscript?

 

- That's none of your business. - Like hell it isn't.

 

She sent it to me as a publisher.

 

- It's a bloody sight more mine than yours. - Please calm down.

 

It's in safe hands, Barley.

 

The manuscript was in three notebooks.

 

When Niki couldn't find you in London, he had the sense to bring them to us.

 

The first notebook is worthless, scientifically speaking.

 

Oh?

 

Peacenik manifestos, slogans, poems, quotations.

 

It has psychological interest, Minister, in so far as the writer sounds...

 

Absolutely barking.

 

- Would "you" say? - It's not a medical term, sir.

 

Unstable, perhaps.

 

- As for notebooks two and three? - Genuine science.

 

Written by someone in the business. No question.

 

The business?

 

Destruction paths, payloads, aim points, bias, rate of burn, trajectories, telemetry.

 

Of course, it doesn't necessarily describe the true state of affairs.

 

What the hell "does" it purport to describe?

 

In a nutshell, the Soviet's strategic capability for waging nuclear war.

 

And addressed to boozy Barley Blair.

 

Well, if it's strategic, we can't evaluate it without the Americans.

 

So it's their baby, not ours.

 

- Throw Scott Blair to the Americans. - Unfortunately, we haven't found him yet.

 

Eureka: We've got him.

 

A Lisbon bank account, my dears:

 

- We've got him. - Lisbon.

 

- Why did you run away? - (Barley) Run away? I own a flat here.

 

"(American accent)" Why Lisbon, Barley?

 

"(mimics accent)" Why Langley, Bob?

 

You brought a woman?

 

What's it to you if I brought a woman, a man or a fuckin' Muscovy duck?

 

What do you do with yourself in Lisbon, Barley?

 

Well, I was having a drink.

 

Until I was interrupted.

 

(Barley chuckling)

 

- Mr Blair? - Eh?

 

I believe I'm addressing Mr Bartholomew Scott Blair. Yes? Correct?

 

- Yes. - I'm Merrydew. I'm from the embassy.

 

We received a rather urgent message for you over our link.

 

Are you trying to tell me someone's dead, old boy?



 

No. That would be consular. I'm commercial.

 

Well, I never knew an honest debt that couldn't wait till Monday.

 

Loosen your girdle, Merrydew. Have a drink with the unwashed.

 

I say, Blair, the man's the Queen's emissary, for Christ's sake.

 

Have they moved the embassy, or are you hijacking me? What's going on, tubby?

 

- I'm commercial. Strictly commercial. - Mr Blair, sir?

 

My name's Ned.

 

I'm about to move the goal posts.

 

There's no urgent message. There's no crisis in your affairs - beyond the usual.

 

I'm from British Intelligence.

 

Come and meet the others.

 

This is Clive. This is Walter.

 

Over here is Bob, who is "almost" family. Meet Barley, everyone.

 

- Hello, Barley: - Proud to know you, Barley.

 

I'm the odd man out here. I work for the Central Intelligence Agency,

 

which, as you probably know, is based in Langley in the state of Virginia.

 

Let's have some fun. Let's do some good.

 

Now isn't that jolly?

 

So, where are we all off to? Nicaragua? Chile? Iran?

 

Or are we just assassinating some local nuisance?

 

Don't rant. Sit down.

 

Perhaps you can tell us what this letter's all about.

 

- Recognise the handwriting? - Read it slowly.

 

Take all the time in the world, Barley.

 

She's barmy.

 

"(Barley)" Who is she?

 

Yekaterina Orlova. Katya?

 

- Never heard of her. - The patronymic's Borisovna.

 

Katya Borisovna Orlova. Have a think, Barley.

 

I don't know a Katya. Never screwed one,

 

never flirted with one, never proposed to one, never even married one.

 

What is she, the usual fat-arsed frump?

 

So, she wrote you a letter signed "Your loving K",

 

- and you tell me you don't know her? - I told you. I never met the hag.

 

She's off her tree.

 

She wasn't even there.

 

- Where? - At Peredelkino.

 

It's a Soviet writers' village.

 

They value their writers. The ones who behave get their own dachas.

 

I was lucky enough to be a guest.

 

When was this?

 

Three or four months ago. One of my trips.

 

But there wasn't any Katya.

 

- What happened? - I was brilliant.

 

- Yes? - Oh, yes.

 

How to save the world between lunch and dinner. I was flying.

 

I "believe" in the new Russia. You may not, but I do.

 

years ago, it was just a pipe dream. Today, it's our only hope.

 

We thought we could bankrupt you by raising the stakes in the arms race.

 

Gambling with the fate of the human race.

 

Barley, you won your gamble. Nuclear peace for years.

 

Oh, rubbish. What peace?

 

Ask the Czechs, the Vietnamese, the Koreans. Ask the Afghans.

 

No. If there is to be hope, we must all betray our countries.

 

We have to save each other, because all victims are equal.

 

And none is more equal than others.

 

It's everyone's duty to start the avalanche.

 

A heroic thought, Barley.

 

Listen, nowadays you have to think like a hero

 

just to behave like a merely decent human being.

 

And did you believe this nonsense?

 

I don't know. I believe it when I say it.

 

But you've got to be there.

 

You're taking a leak in some filthy public urinal,

and the man in the next stall leans across and asks you about God, or Kafka,


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 851


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