Sudden death loomed all around. The very ground held mortal danger as Blenkinsop slipped, cat-like, across Charing Cross station, fully aware that his disguise as an ordinary rail commuter could be unmasked at any moment. Furtively, he slipped his hand into his inside pocket for the reassuring touch of his Parker ball-point, a present from his Auntie Flossie to celebrate his last promotion at the Ministry of Defence. He glanced at the faces of the hurrying crowd around him and gave himself a moment of satisfaction in the knowledge that none of the scuttling masses could comprehend the power of his pen. With one scribble he could condemn hundreds of battle-hardened soldiers to a lifetime of penury by denying their full pensions. Two loops and and a dash under his signature would set the most expensive team of Barristers in London against a lowly lance-corporal trying to claim compensation for the loss of his measley arms and legs. âUnsung Heroesâ. The Minister had called him and his colleagues. âCarrying out a dangerous and difficult jobâ. Too right! Who else would brave the daily commute on Southern Rail, mixing with strange folk wearing turbans and smelling of garlic for a pittance of fifty-thousand a year? Who else would live with the constant threat of a sexual harrassment charge for sticking one's hand up the skirt of an eighteen year old cock-teaser of an office junior or being a little too friendly with that nice David Beckham lookalike from Personnel? He bitterly recalled the time that he had awoken naked, tied up with leather thongs and whipped mercilessly after the office Christmas party and been unable to claim the experience on expenses due to 'budgetary overstretch'. But danger, Blenkinsop reminded himself, is part of the job. He thought back to the time he had signed the order for new helicoptersâwhat? Ten years ago now. His pen, it was a Bic back then, had made the executives at Boeing very rich. The same pen had flourished a dozen times to prevent those same helicopters from taking to the air or being put to such wasteful use as operations, for if they were ever to go into action three dozen civil servants whose sole job was to sit on a committee discussing their fate would have to be re-deployed and he, Blenkinsop, would be held up as a failure. Therin lied the danger of his profession. Ridicule. Ridicule and loss of salary bonuses. It was a battle he, his subordinates and his underlings fought every day. A secret battle aginst the mortal enemies of the MoDâtruth and common sense. The might of Her Brittanic Majesty's civil service was all that stood between common oiks of soldiers, airmen and sailors getting their hands on tanks, planes, guns and other working equipment that cost so much money that there would not be enough to pay for conservatories, holidays in Benidorm and the important things in lifeâlike a broad felt-tip pen just the same as Gordon's.