Richard Pierce

Life, Music, Politics

Day 263

Back to normal again today, finally, at least on the radio. I decided it was fine, sitting in for Marty, to play some loud sweary stuff, and to play some songs that had politics as their main theme. And you know me, anything really good has to be political in some way or another – all music is. It being the first day back after an unscheduled public holiday, the emails and hone were running hot as well, so I’m just glad I have the flexibility to do what I need to do when I need to do it. And it helped that I’d put some hours in yesterday to keep on top of things – and to deliberately avoid the blanket coverage.

So it’s been a pretty full-on day, which is why I’m only just putting this together, if putting together is the right way of describing something that I just write off the cuff and don’t particularly edit when I’m going along, nor when I’ve written it, and nor do I particularly think about it once it’s done. It’s not exactly throwaway, but it’s just a tiny part of my day (or should be if I approach it correctly), and just a tiny snapshot of the continuous thoughts running through my mind. Which reminds me that although I emailed myself a to-do list last night, I’ve forgotten to do at least two of the personal things I had put on there for me (book flu jabs, and something else, which momentarily escapes me). Pauses to actually write them in his day book.

There, done. Although I can’t easily decipher what I’ve written. Colonel L does joke that when he receives my letters, he ought to get some sort of help from Bletchley Park to decode them. My writing has always been difficult to read. When we moved back to England in 1974, it slanted backwards (ie to the left) big time. The it righted itself and became strictly vertical but very compressed (I have teachers’ notes somewhere asking me how I expected people to give me good marks if they couldn’t read what I was writing). And then, when I finally switched permanently to black ink rather than the despicable blue, it began to slant forwards (Ie to the right), and has remained in that posture ever since. I did, a few years ago, win some sort of competition about handwriting, and the prize was a font based on my handwriting. It’s on a machine somewhere, I’m sure. One of these days I will find it.



This is too easy, Aggie thinks. To just walk in here, find this material and walk back out again. She is aware that it’s not totally done yet, that she does have to get back into the tunnel, through the tunnel, back across to Blair House, and out of its back door and into the doughnut shop again without anyone seeing her. And she does realise that she has, in essence, not found anything new, that she doesn’t know if all the other files had the AGATA acronym and its meaning on them, and that she doesn’t know what the machine does, what that rotating chair does. She stops as she’s about to leave, grabs the folder she brought with her and the folder she’s just found, flicks to their back pages, shines the torch on them for a fraction of a second. She was right. The acronym isn’t on the one she found in Norwich. She extinguishes the torch, stuffs them back into her bag, makes her way towards the door.

‘Come on,’ she hears a voice, outside. ‘It’s nothing to be afraid of. It can be our little secret.’ She thinks the voice sounds familiar, the carry of it. She rushes noiselessly out through the door, hides in the vacant space under the very last flight of stairs, that small space where she has to crouch as if she were being squeezed into a tin. Footfalls above her.

‘But I’m not sure I should be in here anyway.’ A young voice, female. ‘What will the President say if he finds me?’

‘He won’t,’ the voice assures her, that hint of English upper class.

It can’t be. Aggie levers herself slightly out of her hiding place. Shadows in the neon lights. The creak of leather soles, and the squeak of what the Americans would call sneakers. She only catches a brief glimpse of the two people.

Tall, dark-haired man in a suit. ‘It’s fine, it’s fine,’ as he extends his arm, opens the door to the room Aggie has just left. ‘All well do is confirm your immense intellect.’

Aggie has to stop herself gasping. What the hell is Valentine doing here? She thought he was in Moscow.

‘Ok.’ The young woman has that soft lilting American accent that makes her almost stateless but charms the English with its sexiness. ‘It’s really exciting, actually.’

‘You may get a raise,’ Valentine smothers her in his English.

Surely, if Valentine is here now, he’s got the current President in his pocket as well. Aggie swallows hard. That’s not good. She creeps to the door which hasn’t closed properly. The automatic neon lights flicker out.

‘If you just sit in this chair,’ Valentine is saying into the dark room, ‘I’ll just turn the lights on. Bear with me.’

‘Don’t be long,’ the woman says. ‘This is kinda freaking me out again now.’

Aggie hopes Valentine won’t notice she’s been under the podium. But her eyes see that all he does is move towards the back of the room, away from where the chair sits, reaches out to the wall, where there must be a narrow support between the file drawers, and flicks a switch.

The woman screams as the bright cuffs fasten themselves over her arms, as the light flashes through the room, and through her entire body which becomes so translucent it’s not just transparent but almost entirely invisible, and all Aggie can see is the white hair, and the red eyes with the light spewing from them. And then the screaming stops. The cuffs stay as Valentine flicks another switch, the green switch it must be, because the chair starts spinning. And the girl’s head doesn’t droop or loll, but stays upright the whole time, the light from her eyes flashing around the room. And Valentine cackles.

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