12 Jim Hutchinson Two Tomorrows The Happy Fox & Lady Belinda

Lady Belinda The Happy Fox Page List

 

The Happy Fox page 13

Paris

 The exclusive coach tour La Belle France was running an hour late. Lopez, the hotel manager, would be waiting to twist his ridiculous moustache and look daggers at the tour guide Christine Black. Lopez wouldn't dare say a word to her. For years he had watched her shifting iced Glenffidich like a Cat snowplough. Christine was an erudite English widow of some fifty summers. You would not find Christine walking up and down the coach twiddling her bra strap while pointing out the landmarks. This particular tour guide explained everything worth knowing about Europe from her front row seat. The three-week-tour was Christine's idea. She wanted to advertise it.  France. For Serious Students of History. Her co-directors thought that akin to Basil Fawtly's No Riff Raff. The brochure eventually read.

   La Belle France. A Taste Of History. Tread the ramparts Eleanor of Aquitaine trod with her councillors, pondering should she leave Phillip, the French King, to marry Henry, soon to be the English King?  Mrs Christine Black PhD, will explain  why the beautiful Eleanor married Henry 2nd  bore him four fine sons, and with her sons plotted royal murders. Including Henry's...  

In seats 3 & 4, behind Christine, Kath and Jack Campbell were gazing at the Seine, glinting in a pale sunset. For no apparent reason the coach full of chatty tourists suddenly went quite. Kath felt her flesh creep. She looked at Jack. He looked at her. She lifted her arm up. The hairs were standing up.  Christine's microphone clicked on. 'Ladies and Gentlemen. If you just felt a little chilly. Don't worry. We have just passed the underpass where Princess Diana died. Since the accident, in 1997, millions of people have felt some kind of cold sensation passing that spot. We shall not be passing this way on our walking tour tomorrow morning. If you wish to know what Parisians think about this phenomena. There is a new book entitled Diana's Touch, now on sale at all good book shops. And indeed at the hotel, where we shall be arriving in ten minutes time. As you know from your day sheets the Orleans has three, a la carte restaurant's and bar's galore. Please remember the restaurants are very busy due to the power boat show and do try to be down for eight.'   

That night after dinner Kath and Jack sought out Christine. They found her in one of the smaller bars, half full with hardy marine-types. Christine was stood at the bar with a smartly dressed gent, she introduced as Paul Brunston, a retired British Airways detective. Kath told Christine. 

'We've decided to skip the walkabout in the morning.' 

'Not getting bored I hope?' Christine inquired.
'Perish the thought,' said Jack, 'we just fancy going down river to find a spot we camped at years ago.'

'My oh my, said Christine, 'the man has a romantic streak.' Jack smiled. 'That could well be true. Let me get you two a refill.'

As he ordered the drinks Kath asked Christine. 'That Diana thing. Do you feel it every time you pass that spot?' 

'No. It's entirely unpredictable. Rather like the girl herself. That's what makes it so uncanny.' 

The bartender delivered the drinks. Paul raised his glass, softly he said. 'Diana. A lonely little petunia in an onion patch.' They drank to her memory.

Something about the tone of Paul's voice made Kath ask. 'You do think it was an accident? Don't you?'

Another bunch of jolly-sailor types were entering the bar. 'Lets find a table.' Said Paul.
He led the way to a quite corner of the room. As they sat down Paul confided.' Some of those chaps are British Embassy.'  

'I thought they were on our side.'  Said Kath.

Christine laughed.' So do they Kathleen. So. Do. They.'

'Do you think the accident was a bit suspicious then?' Asked Kath.

Paul shook his head saying. 'No. I'm certain it was a genuine accident. Followed by a genuine murder.'

'Your kidding me.' Said Kath.

'Would that he were.' Said Christine. 'One of the inquiry judges happens to be a friend of ours. Twelve minutes after the crash the Embassy were in touch with Balmoral. They told the Queen they could call in the President's medical team. They were told to do nothing.  Embassy officials assumed MI6 must have been following Diana and they were sending in their emergency crash-team. The President's expert medical team would have been helicopter'ed-in, within fifteen minutes. Instead. It took an hour to put her into an ordinary ambulance and another forty-three minutes to arrive at a hospital. Which rather gives the game away. Don't you think?'

Jack, a Royal Navy doctor, agreed. 'Speaking as a medic myself. I'm sure any other member of that family would have been saved.'

'Yes. But she wasn't in the royal family.' Insisted Kath. Kath and Jack had argued Diana's "royal protection" status before.

'That's not the point.' Said Christine. 'Denying the mother of a future King the best medical attention available is an act of Treason.'

Kath looked sceptical. Paul took up the argument. 'The Law Lords, who should have made that fact public knowledge, had no love for Diana. The lady simply knew too much.'

'Too much about what?' Asked Kath.

'Arms.' Said Paul. 'Diana could have exposed the royals profits from the war zones. Most of the injuries she saw in Angola were caused by British made ordnance supplied by the Queen's agents. Mark Thatcher and Jonathan Aitken to name but two. Diana was becoming a female Robin Hood. Lizzy's greatest fear was Diana forming her own party. Let me put it this way. If she were here today and she decided to lead UKIP. Who would you vote for? A woman who obviously cares about people. Or Lizzy's overpaid Punch & Judy puppets.'      

'I hadn't really thought of her going into politics.' Kath confessed. 

'The Palace certainly had.' Said Paul. 'What happened in the tunnel was a lot less gruesome than what was scheduled to happen.'

'What in God's name could have been worse!?' Kath exclaimed. 

Paul glanced around the room as he inquired. 'Do you remember when an American warship accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner?'

'I don't remember it as an accident.' Said Jack.

'Then you'll remember the Iranian's response?' Paul Asked.

'They threatened to down an American airliner.' Jack answered.

'That's right. And six months later. They did just that. The wreckage fell on Lockerbie. We now know they got the bomb aboard in a CIA suitcase cleared as a diplomatic bag.'

'You've lost me,' Kath chipped in, 'what's that got to do with Diana?'

Paul explained. 'She was due to talk about landmines on American talk-shows. Oprah had booked her first class, B.A, from Heathrow. The Palace booked a diplomatic crate on the same flight. The crate would have contained enough C4 to turn the 767 into shrapnel. The blast would have happened at 40,000 feet, mid Atlantic. Lizzy had no intention of giving the Peoples Princess the dignity of a funeral. She wanted her blown to bits, char-grilled, stir-fried and fed to the sharks in succulent lumps. In case you don't know, the Lockerbie bomb was loaded at Heathrow. It should have exploded over the ocean, as the Iranian airliner did, but the flight took-off late.' 
Slowly, Kath said. 'I can't see the Queen killing hundreds of people just to…'  She ran out of logic.
Jack finished her sentence. 'To cover-up one murder.' 
It was obvious Jack had no problem with it.
 

The Happy Fox page 14

Brooklyn NY 

Vladimir Levin graduated from Leningrad Technical Institute aged 16. Hailed as a computer genius he won the highest academic honour of the old Soviet Union the Red Star. Seventeen years later the media packed Brooklyn Central Court  for his trial. Prosecutor John Webster alleged, Levin had instigated the illegal transfer of $M30 from Citibank Brooklyn, New York, to Barclay accounts in Boddentown, Grand Cayman.
Wearing a light gray suit, yellow shirt, red tie and blue-tint square-framed glasses. Levin looked more like a stand-up-poet than a sit-down-bank-robber. As he took the stand his manner was relaxed and pleasant. His English was perfect. His flash-suited lawyer, Sam Mitchell, asked him.

'Please tell the court when and where were you arrested?'

'I was arrested last January at Stanstead airport in England.'

'Who arrested you?'

'The British Airport police.'

'Could you tell the court. Why, did the British Airport police, arrest you?'

'They said I was being arrested for passport irregularities.'

'Did the British Airport police mention Citibank?'

'No.'

'Did the British Airport police mention computer fraud?'

'No. They said they were investigating passports. That's all they would say.'

'What happened after you were arrested for passport irregularities?'

'Two detectives, who said they were from Special Branch, took me to Brixton prison in London. Where they asked me if I had hacked into any databanks belonging to the British royal family.' 

'And had you?'

'Yes.'

'Could you tell the court, why you did such a thing?'

'I was searching for the missing Romanov diamonds. The royals want me out of the loop because I can expose their hidden billions.'   

Looking at Judge Simmons, as Mitchell had coached him to do, Levin continued. 'Your honour I was tracing stolen jewels. If you let me borrow a laptop, I'll prove it.'

Levin was interrupted by a loud objection from prosecutor Webster.

Judge Simmons asked council to approach the bench.

Frowning at Mitchell, the old Judge, who had seen it all before, asked.

'Where is this little distraction leading to?'

'Your honour. This man has no need to steal. His work on firewall programs had made him a millionaire before he reached twenty-one. I believe he had no knowledge of this fraud until he was charged with it.'

'Why is he asking for a lap-top for God's sake?' Asked Webster.

Mitchell shrugged.

'Sounds like he wants to prove something. If the prosecution objects, you could be obstructing justice.' Turning back to the Judge, Mitchell stated. 'Your honour the Brits have used the passport laws illegally. They should have charged him or released him after the statuary sixty-days. Instead he was held for nine months without charge. There is something rotten here. An American court should not be a part of it.'  

Judge Simmons silently agreed with Mitchell. The prosecutions evidence was mainly computer print-outs interpreted by experts. Who would probably send the jury to sleep. In essence the case hung on the word of a single witness. Who the prosecution claimed was an unwitting accessory.

Simmons told Mitchell. 'Your client could be digging himself a bigger hole than the one he's in.'

Mitchell smiled. 'I realize that your honour. I'm sure he knows what he's doing.'

The Judge ordered a thirty-minute recess. He told the ushers to borrow a laptop from the court library and set it up on a table in the centre of the court. Making sure the court-cameras could not see the keyboard. Half an hour later Levin sat down at the table. Mitchell asked him.

'Can you tell the court. What is the purpose of this demonstration?' 

'I wish to prove I can tap into the most world's protected computers. That is why I was arrested. No one in my family has ever stolen anything.'
 

Judge Simmons nodded his approval.

Levin's nimble fingers flashed round the keyboard for forty-five seconds. What came up on-screen resembled a map of the London Underground.

Levin turned the laptop round so the jury could see the screen. He explained. 'This is the cooling system of Sizewell B. A nuclear power plant, near London, England.  If I disable the feed-water pumps, which will take five seconds, there will be an instant meltdown. Followed by a much bigger bang than Nagasaki. The fall-out will turn Great Britain into a nuclear desert.'

A chorus of 'Oh myyyy gawwds!' Sang out from the press gallery. Levin smiled at the jury of open mouths. For the first time in forty years, the Judge lost his cool in court. He heard himself yelling. 'Turn that thing off. Turn it off. Turn it off.'

Levin held his hands up.  'No problem your honour. No problem.'

He shut down the laptop. Smiling at the press gallery Levin said.

'I would like to take this opportunity to apply for a post at the Pentagon.'

Apart from Judge Simmons the court burst into laughter.

Vladimir Levin's Claim

1912. Kaiser Bill,  Zsar Nicky and  King George 5 ruled most of Europe. Levin's great-great-grandmother, Vera Zavoycek, met all three. Vera grew up at the Winter Palace where her father was a secretary. Other than old photographs and her letters Levin had no proof Vera had a child to Nicky Romanov, six years before he became Zsar. Nicky was nineteen and Vera just sixteen when she became pregnant, in 1888.  Nicholas, her only child, was one-year-old when she met a linguist serving as a palace envoy, Major Peter Levin, who she married in 1890. Peter accompanied minor Russian noblemen who's sole job in life - absurd but true - was travelling the western world presenting unique Romanov jewellery as wedding, christening, birthday and anniversary presents from the Zsar & Zsarina to their royal cousins. Nicky had married Princess Alex of Hesse, one of Queen Victoria's 'better-looking' German granddaughters. The normally staid London Times records the wedding as. 'A truly wonderful fairytale day for a truly radiant Zsarina.' The fairytale ended in the bloody Bolshevik Revolution. Nicky, Alex, their son & four daughters were gunned down in the same cold blood Nicky had murdered thousand's of his 'Bolshie' subjects. In the last year of Nicky's rule, tons of art works, gold, jewels & jewellery were smuggled abroad by opportunists, most of who were cousins. Wholesale larceny of the Romanov treasure houses was aided by wholesale destruction of official records.  In the first days of the Revolution marauding gangs made bonfires of any documents that looked remotely official. The Bolshevik's believed even palace-staff-records contained incriminating evidence against the workers. Absence of official records and the fact that Birth Certificates were not mandatory in Romanov Russia meant Levin's family had searched in vain for documentary proof of young Vera popping her cork before her long and happy marriage.  Encouraged by reports of newly computerized Kremlin archives, Levin and his girlfriend, Tanya, had spent an annoying weekend hacking the new computer banks. Every file they pulled-up was doctored or incomplete. Tanya an athletic, in-your-face, cub reporter with Moscow TV voiced her conclusion.  'This is pointless. All the Romanov files have been weeded with fucking flame throwers.'  A few days later it occurred to Tanya to try another tack. Her job gave her on-line access to most University Libraries. She listed all the authors of academic papers on the Romanov family. The most prolific of these were cankerous old relics of the Soviet era. None of who would give a door a bang. Let alone a girl reporter an interview. Half way down her list she found Professor Alan Neville, an aging Oxford don. She e-mailed Neville a copy of one of Vera Zavoycek's letters with the standard Moscow TV request, 'Any Information?'  The letter bore the postmark of a Romanov country retreat, and mentioned her 'special' baby. 

Neville chose not to reply. Which led to Tanya spending hour's on the phone.
When Neville finally condescended to speak to her. He told her his archives were private. Tanya turned on the charm. 'I know it's a sensitive subject, professor but I'm not doing this for Moscow TV. It's a family thing. My fiancé believes Zsar Nicky was his great-great-grand-father.'

'And just who is this fiancé. May I ask?' Neville rudely interrupted.

'His name is Vladimir Levin. You may have heard of him professor. He won the Red Star for his thesis on software engineering.'

'Did he now?' Neville's surly tone had softened an octave.

Tanya laid on the syrup. 'And he thought. As you are a world authority on the Romanov's. If I could have a word with you. I'll be over there to cover Mayday in London, in a few weeks time. If I may. I'd like to ring you when I arrive. I would just like to talk to you. In confidence of course.'

Neville 'ummed' and 'welled' but she knew she had him. 'I rarely get to England. And it would mean so much to me.'

 'Oh very well. Providing you keep this between ourselves. I'll see what I can find. Let me know when you arrive. I'll see if I can see you.'

Two weeks later Tanya hired a car near Euston Station for the trip up the A 40. Neville's modern farmhouse was a comfortable clutter of old books and new computers. Sitting in the sunlit lounge, over-looking the fields of south Oxon, Tanya was feeling very much at ease. The sprightly old don was clearly captivated by the dark-eyed, crew-cut girl from Moscow. Tanya's shortest, thinnest, summer dress left nothing to an old lecturer's imagination. The girl was certainly here to please. As he poured the lemon tea Neville came straight to the point. 'I'm confident Vera Zavoycek's child was Nicky's.'
'That's great.' She said in surprise. 'How did you find out?'

'Quiet easily. As a matter of fact the information had been with us since the Blitz. It came our way from Rothschild's library when they were bombed-out. But it's not really great, as you say Tanya. What I have for you is proof of an annuity paid to Vera, starting in July 1889. Pensions paid through banks are the only tangible indication we have of Nicky's wild oats. But. Pensions do not prove paternity. Most of the so-called noble families paid this type of hush-money. In Vera's case, as in many others, this is affirmative evidence. But sadly, inadmissible evidence. In the eyes of the law.'

'Well it will please Vladimir all the same. I thank you on his behalf.'

'My pleasure Tanya. My pleasure. Although why your young man is trying to prove he is a Romanov.' He shook his head. 'Seems rather bizarre to me.'

Tanya laughed. 'I know. It's crazy. But he's obsessed.'

Rising his eyebrows as if to say, 'what are the young coming to?' Neville settled back in his chair. Looking hard into her lovely eyes the old man asked. 'Wouldn't you two be better employed finding the stolen Romanov treasures?'
Tanya's long eyelashes did a double take. 'I don't think we could? Could we?'

There was mischief in Neville's voice as he replied. 'I rather think, we three, could.'

'We? Three?' She queried.

'Let me explain. After the international courts settled the issue of the Nazi gold. Pressure from the other banks forced the Swiss to begin cataloguing the contents of their vaults. With a lot more accuracy than ever before. Until recently whatever was held in the older vaults, deep beneath the Alps,  Safe Depositories, as they are usually referred to, was the world's best kept secret. I have it on very good authority the cataloguing of the Safe Depositories is nearly complete. Your young man's knowledge of firewalls far exceeds mine. At the moment. I need someone with his ability to compliment my years of research.'  Neville's faded blue eyes brightened as he sipped his tea.
Tanya's eye's widened as she remembered the stories of the last year of Romanov rule. When convoys of priceless jewels disappeared into the dead of night. Heading, so the stories go, for the Swiss Alps. She felt she was being dragged into something she may regret. At the same she was feeling the kind of excitement only truck loads of diamonds can give a girl.
'What do you want him to do?' She asked.

'If I knew that Tanya. I could do it myself.' He smiled.

'You are talking about some seriously dangerous hacking.'

'Righteous. Hacking.' He corrected.

Tanya had set out to woo the old don. It went the other way. She drove back to London dizzy from Neville's lecture on the fabulous secret wealth of the royal family. Leaving Heathrow she had a new purpose in life. Two months later, following leads from Neville's unique archives, Levin had accessed the fascinating world of Royal Jewel Rooms. The night he finally cracked the code Tanya watched as Levin's glasses steamed-up. As she read the screen, she to, could hardly believe her eyes. Just as Neville had said. Between 1841-1952, Victoria, Edward 7, George 5, Edward 8 and George 6 had personally, down-graded thousands of fabulous gifts from every corner of the Empire. Suites of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, ect, ect, had been reclassified as 'Costume jewellery.' Then written-off as. 'Lost or discarded.' Neville had told Tanya. 'German in-laws and cousins, always visiting for hunting, shooting and fornicating, carried the loot home in diplomatic luggage. If we can identify any of the missing jewellery in the newly catalogued vaults we may find some of the Romanov treasure trove and some of the previous century of plunder. Shipped home by the first four George's.
  

The Happy Fox page 15

Downing Street Press Call

 Sixty journalists were growing restless when the beleaguered Prime Minister nodded at the Washington Post correspondent.

 'The last time I was invited to one of these little pantomimes. I pointed out. Most taxpayer's object to subsiding a relative of the mass murderer Nicholas Romanov and the daughter of a Nazi SS Officer. So? Why? Are the Queen's cousins still living in Kensington Palace protected by armed police, while your own old age pensioners, who saved Britain from the Nazi's, are afraid to leave their homes in case they are mugged and left to die waiting for an ambulance outside the chip shop?'

 Gordon Brown: Amid a loud clamour of agreement from the other correspondents. 

' I really have nothing to say on that subject.'

Guardian correspondent:  'Isn't it time you took a good look at all three hundred and fifty grace and favour homes and handed them back to their rightful owners. The British?'

Gordon Brown:  Obviously annoyed.  'I really have nothing more to say on that.'

The Times correspondent:  'In that case. Why bother calling us here? We were expecting a statement on the sudden shutdown of Sizewell B. Yet we are still none the wiser. In the last hour none of my colleagues has received a straight answer. Not on the Sizewell mystery. Not on the spread of the Indonesian bird flu.
Not on the hunts using Eagles to circumvent your so-called ban on foxhunting. You had no comment on the horrendous cost of the illegal war on Iraq. 
And now you have the gall to tell us you have no comment on phony foreign Prince's and Princess's stealing British pensioner's birthright. It seems to me
Mr Brown.  That you have lost the bloody plot. I for one have had enough of this silly little charade. I for one, am leaving.'

Other correspondents:   'I'll second that.' 

'A complete farce.' 

'A total waste of time.'

'Let's go.'

'In the words of the last inadequate prime minister. Enough's enough.'

'You said it. Enough is a bloody nough.'

Apart from an aging French hack, fast asleep in a corner, and a brace of cringing-court-jesters, Quentin Letts & Andy Marr. Gordon Brown was left with an empty stateroom.

  _____________________________________

Norfolk 

 Arriving home Brigadier Tandy was pleasantly surprised by a dinner invitation from his landlord Earl Sholtren. Fifteen years the younger man, Sholtren had always seen eye-to-eye with Tandy. They shared a passion for a game few people can grow remotely fond of. Chess.
Over dinner it was clear the state of the country angered Sholtren. Although a tax exile for thirty years the dumbing-down of the British public incensed Sholtren. He feared crippling power cuts and fatal rail crashes were about to happen. The more he spoke about 'so-called privatization' the angrier he became. He had no doubt the Queen, who he said, 'authorised the looting spree' had 'made a made a killing on every Privatising Bill she signed.' He reminded Tandy. 'She gave away three hundred billion-pounds worth of public property. The old GPO infrastructure, our rail-system, water reservoirs, power stations, the National Grid et cetera, for a few billion in back-handers. Even Hitler never dreamt of selling the ratepayer's property to line his own pockets.'  
As they talked long into the night Tandy was not surprised when Sholtren asked.
'Surely we have enough evidence to take this phony crown out of the British equation?' 
About 3 am the Brigadier decided to put the Earl's mind at rest. He told him.  'Have patience. The Chiefs of Staff have it all in hand. The bones of their cousins the Romanov's were found sixty-odd years after they were buried. There will be no sentimental rubbish to dig-up this time. The Bolsheviks had no Mad Cow incinerators to hand. We have several.' 

The following evening an icy mist was drifting inland as Tandy parked his 1964 immaculate black Humber Imperial. As he walked across the village green Sholtren and his sister Lady Thelma arrived in Thelma's battered old Land Rover. Tandy couldn't help noticing how dismal the Victorian brick village hall and the villagers trooping into it, really were.
The Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council began with the chair, Lady Thelma, giving a brief update on recent flood damage and what she called. 'Mr Brown's criminal intransigence on coastal repairs.' Coming to the business of the evening she reminded the audience. 'Last week. We were told Prince Charles had severed all connections with the increasingly violent Countryside Alliance. Yesterday the Alliance claimed they have insufficient funds to appeal to the EU to overturn the foxhunting ban.' 
She then introduced the man who called the meeting. 'Brigadier Marcus Tandy MBE. Norfolk's expert on European Law.'  The boards creaked as Tandy waddled centre stage to the mike.
'In my absence.' He began.
'It seems. The fox has gained a handsome lead on the pack. Parliament is now discussing banning the keeping of packs of hounds!'
The packed hall exploded with shouts of pent-up anger.
'Do What?' 'Bloody politicians.' 'Never.' 'No way.'
When the racket died down he continued in a louder tone. 'If that happens.' He paused to cast a stern look over the restless yokels. 'If that happens. We must obey the law.' Again the hall erupted with waves of shouted bad temper.
Tandy was getting exactly the reaction he wanted. Above the din he roared.  'Yelling will get you nowhere. The Countryside Alliance has done nothing for the sport.  As a direct result of their actions there has been more huntsmen arrested this year than there was in the previous twenty-five-years.'

 The yelling subsided to assenting grunts. Tandy waited for silence. Then growled on. 'For every ten seconds television time, given to our side, the Widdecombe brigade are now given ten whole minutes.' The audience hissed at the very mention of the virgin Bulldog.
Tandy's growl grew louder. 'Behaving like bloody football hooligans is not the way to save hunting. European Law is the only mechanism to save the sport. Had the Alliance leaders been capable of understanding the Maastricht Treaty they would have started their campaign in the Strasbourg Court of Civil Rights years ago.'

The crowded village hall was coming to hushed and shushed attention. The audience saw real anger on Tandy's moon shaped face as he continued. 'You should not need me to remind you. Great Britain has become one of many states of Europe. You should have learned by now European Directives are Laws that overrule British Acts of Parliament. Instead of embarking on bloody silly protest marches dumping dead horses in Brighton and sending mindless yobs into the House of Commons. You should have donated the cost all of those days. The day's pay and the day's travelling expenses, to a legal fund. Had every hunt supporter done that. A dedicated legal team would now be winning our case in Strasbourg. Given sufficient capital we can obtain a European Directive declaring the sport an innate civil right.' 

Hoots and cheers broke out. Slowly, Tandy raised his enormous arms. Hands outstretched to quell the joyous peasants. He scowled as he scolded. 'To save the sport you must distance yourselves from the Alliance and their schoolboy stunts and find the necessary capital for a proper legal challenge. Lady Thelma, Earl Sholtren and I have already begun arranging fund rising meetings across the country. If we generate half the amount of capital the Alliance wasted on violent protests we can lift the ban by this time next year.'

The audience burst into applause cheers and whistles. Again, he did his Angel Of The North to hush the simple peasants. Loudly he concluded.

'I started by saying we must obey the law.  I hope I have made it clear how we can obtain the law we want.'  He was given a standing ovation.

The next day Tandy & Thelma launched their website asking for donations. They called their legal fund. Game & Saddle Europe (GSEu)  Full page ads appeared in the Telegraph, Country Life, Shooting Times and  Farmers Weekly.

GSEu

Game & Saddle Europe will protect hunters' civil right to continue hunting. There is no legal reason to stop the European Union Council Of Ministers grouping foxes with other time honoured traditions. Such as breeding grouse and pheasant for sport. GSEu have started the process of obtaining a European Directive signed by the majority of member states of the European Union. 
Until the European Directive is issued, we remind hunt supporters any unlawful activity will only delay the due process of lifting the ban.
GSEu has no connections with the British National Party. Unlike the Countryside Alliance GSEu will not be taking advice from the BNP. Or any other party.  

 _________________________________

 

Millie's Mission

 Over the phone the manageress had not minced words. 'We prefer plain girls. Not the painted, pouting, type.' Millie Campbell wouldn't know how to pout. She could have mentioned she occasionally wore camouflage paint, but that would give the game away.
Millie was just 19, five-foot-five, naturally slim, brunette, brown eyes. She wore a thick brown polo neck Shetland sweater, faded jeans, Timberland boots.
She was asking herself. 'Can I really get away with this?'  She had borrowed her mum's Cherokee Jeep. Her own ecological Honda Insight could arouse suspicion.
As she turned off the dual-carriageway onto the old coast road she was listening to Radio Norfolk FM. 'Buckingham Palace, said the newsreader, 'has just issued a statement denying allegations by an Argentine polo team captain, Pablo Florrides, who claims half his team slept with Charles and the other half often enjoyed a post match roasting with Camilla in the 1980's. Pablo Florrides, is one of four polo players arrested last week for procuring young boys. This morning the Mail reporter who broke the story gave the Queen's press secretary twenty explicit photographs of Camilla's polo club roastings. The photographs show Camilla is usually on top. Half-an-hour ago her chauffeur driven Daimler was hit by a brick as it left Clarence House. The lady in the car however was not Camilla...' 
Pity. Thought Millie. She turned the radio off. She had better things to think of than disgusting royals. Coming into view up the deserted coast road was the Sholtren Hotel. Originally a granite built coastguard station ordered by mad King George when Napoleon threatened invasion. The high turrets looking out to sea retained the air of a fortress. Millie parked in the cliff-top car park opposite the hotel. 'Once more into the breach' she said to herself as she grabbed her shoulder-bag. A shiver ran down her spine as she locked the Jeep. In their kennels somewhere behind the hotel the Sholtren foxhounds were howling at the weather. Millie didn't mind the odd rumble of thunder.
It was going behind enemy lines that was creeping her out. The smell of the listless sea did nothing for her butterflies as she hurried across the road out of the cold. Entering the gloomy lobby she was greeted by a yapping Labrador pup. No one was manning the small reception desk. The pup started chewing her boots. She picked him up. Snarling down from the wall was a huge tigers head. The brass trophy plate hadn't been polished for decades. She squinted to read.
            Indian Tiger. Nine Foot Six Inches. 
           Simla. January 1912. Shot By The Sixth Earl.

Millie peered into the unlit alcove opposite the tigers head. She made out the mounted head of a large rhino. 'Good God! Are you safe living here?  She whispered to the pup. She walked into the saloon bar where a middle-aged man was putting out beer-mats and ashtrays.

'Hello. You must be Miss Campbell?'  

'Millie.' She smiled.

'I'm Don, I see you've met Sidney. I'm afraid Thelma couldn't make it. Her son's place was flooded-out this morning. She asked me to see you. Come through we'll have a chat in the office.'

He led her through the bar flap through a storeroom into an untidy office. He noticed there was no warpaint, no perfume, baubles, bangles or beads on the girl in boots. Millie noted the office had lost it's door. The thick iron bars across the window were brown with rust. The carpet was threadbare. The décor belonged with the Charleston. He moved a scruffy wicker chair to face the old colonial desk. On the desk, half hidden by box-files was the hotel's computer, an aging Dell. 

'Take a pew, my dear. Thelma tells me you are at East Anglia.  Doing medicine?'

'That's right. We finish next week for Christmas. I worked in a pub last year. I've brought a reference and my passport as requested.' She took the references out of her bag and handed them over.

'Before we go any further. I know Thelma asked you on the phone. But you have nothing against foxhunting. Have you?'

'As I said on the phone I used to follow the hunt.' She could have added 'as a devote saboteur,' but smiled her sweetest instead.

'Do you ride?'

'Yes. But not for some time.'

'We have to ask because the hunt meets here five days a week. You'll be surrounded by arrogant types. Barmaids have walked-out in the past. Do's bad language make you uncomfortable?'

'Not really uncomfortable. I can close my ears to it.'

Don nodded as he glanced at her Passport and reference.

The shade-less light bulb reflected off a black and white silhouette hanging on the office wall. Looking at the image, Millie asked. 'Isn't that Wallis Simpson?'   

'Yes. That's her. That was done when she was named the best dressed  woman in the world. We had our own concrete runway when Wallis stayed here. We can't get permission for a hot air balloon these days.'

'Wallis stayed here?'

'Many times. Grandfather was the last of the big spenders. He kept an alcoholic artist in work doing silhouette's of all our guests.'

 'Yuh. Your? G -Gr-Gr-Grandfather?' Millie stuttered.

He grinned. 'Yes my dear. I am the present Earl. But I much prefer Don.'

He tried not to notice she seemed a little lost for words.  'If you are interested in that period. You'll find the regulars are still living in the nineteen-forties. Dads Army isn't in it.'  He smiled as he handed her documents back. 'Those are fine.'  He hadn't really read them. The girl-in-boots spoke good English. Not the yah-yah-clap-trap that used to give Joan unstoppable giggles. The job was hers if she wanted it. 

'I'll show you the accommodation and you can tell me what you think.'

Millie didn't think much of the tiny attic room. But Millie was on a mission. She told him it was fine. Don took her on a tour, explaining. 'Thelma, my big sister, is the manageress but she's only here afternoons to help with the paperwork. The live-in staff run the ship. We have sixteen guest rooms, usually empty since BSE and foot & mouth scared off the tourists but fully booked for Christmas - hunting types who come every year. There are five other staff who live local.'

Downstairs he introduced her to the live-in staff, Rita the housekeeper, John the kennel master, Brendan the chef and his wife Helen, who ran the restaurant.  A heavy shower started as Millie was about to leave. Don made her wait while he fetched a big brolly. He ran, laughing, the forty yards with her to the Jeep. As she got in, he balanced the brolly on the door and the roof. Giving her a solid two-handed handshake, he said. 'It's been a pleasure Millie. I'm sure you will get along fine. Put your seat belt on now and take good care in this rain.'  He watched her buckle-up then he shut the door. Then he waved her out on to the road. Five miles down the road she pulled into a lay-by, screeched to a stop. And thumped the steering wheel.  'Jesus, Mary and Joseph.' She swore at the windscreen. Infiltrating the enemy camp had seemed easy. She never thought she would meet an Earl. Least of all one who insisted on her calling him Don. Reading-up on the Sholtren's in the Newspaper Library she got the distinct impression he lived in America. Even before he shook her hand, the way her dad shook hands, Millie knew she was going to like Don. And that wasn't part of the plan at all. He was catering for sad acts who butcher pregnant vixens with packs of hounds. How could she like him!? She sat, nursing her mobile, listening to the pelting rain bouncing off the roof, wondering should she call to say she'd changed her mind about the job.

She called her sister. 'Stoats and Weasels.' She said. Campbell Code for. It's a lovely day up here, but the port wing just fell off.

'No job?' Assumed Julie.

'No. I got the job. But you'll never guess who gave it me.'

'I give up?'

'The Earl himself was there.'

'What! You've met an Earl?'

'Large as life. I thought he was the bloody barman.'  

'So why Stoats and Weasels? What's to worry?'

'Duping an Earl. That's what's to worry!'

'Why? What happened?'

'Nothing happened. It's what might happen. I'm getting cold feet.'

'Why? You've lucked out girl. You won't meet many Earls. What's he like?  Tall, dark and stupid?'   

'None of the above. He looks a bit like dad with less hair.'

'Well then. It's in the bag. You could be his floozy. Good God! You could end up with a title.'

Julie was laughing but Millie only managed a smile.     

'But what if I screw up?' 

'When did you ever screw up? And anyway Earl's don't send us wonton strumpets to the block anymore. You'll get a fair trial and a fair hanging.'

Millie managed a laugh.  

 

Mr Bloody  

 

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