We had a rendezvous at the reform Club, in London. Lord Bixby had scheduled an appointment there for tonight. I wanted to see who his companions were and if they were showing up. Maybe they would know something about his disappearance.
There was among the other cars a rather sporty looking, white, Mercedes convertible, in the large garage. Which she unlocked and started with a flick of her slim Super-Fit_byte watch.
So I got in and before the electric garage door was even two thirds up she had powered us down her driveway and onto the main road. Heading south to the Reform Club.
Ch 13 – Heading South
“What’s all the conflict with you and that Chief Inspector,” she asked me, as she drew on her E-cig and drove at speed down the near empty Hendon Way.
The incredible transport planning disasters that had removed millions of vehicles from the roads had been a real bonus for the likes of Lady Bixby and the Elite. The streets had reverted to a 1950’s traffic level. Only the richest, or those with others paying, could afford to use them. The Mercedes was making great time. The different sensors built into the dashboard top recording every toll and tariff and racking up huge fees for the Mayor. That he would spend on more cameras and tolls and tariffs, in order to raise the taxes and tariffs, to make up for the vastly reduced number of road vehicles, that was caused by such huge tolls and taxes. It was a diminishing lefty-return of taxing of the rich until the whole system did a Venezuela and we all ate our pets.
I saw we were nearing Brent Cross. I could see the Wembley arch. And the searchlights and watchtowers to the south, at the New BBc centre at Ealing. Guarded day and night and with drones and helicopters. It was a major target for the radicals and revolutionaries. And ITV dissidents.
I thought about lying about Flittock. But then, what difference did it make if she knew?
“I was in The Department as you know,” I told her. “We had a lot of rivalry with the Twatter Police. They have a lot of power, the biggest budget, and do the easiest job.
Monitoring Hurty Feelz and arresting populists for thought crimes and politically incorrect sentiments. And as almost anything can be a hate or hurt crime, they have a lot of investigation officers and a lot of money to lavish on them. Government demands they police the right to live in a safe space environment, of only purethought.”
“I have no idea what you mean,” Vanessa said as she slowed for the speed cameras.
There were quite a few corporate ones on this stretch. And they were always active.
Plus the rain was starting to come down quite harder now. Spotting the glass and slicking the road.
“Yes you do, “I told her. “Flittock’s people investigate the right to not be offended by anything, ever. Someone has a song on their playlist you don’t like? Call the twatter Police to have them remove it. Asking someone to marry them, before they are ready for commitment? Twatter Police. That Alan Partridge comment from the 1990’s, you remember it? Monkey Tennis? That made him a star back then. Today he’d probably get twelve months for racial hatred and threatening the well-being of Prince Archibald.”
“You exaggerate, Mr Malone. You know you do. It isn’t like that. I’m in the media business. I know full well the acceptable boundaries. And anyway, don’t you think it better to live in a more wholesome, less racist world?”
“Yes. But the abuses of power from the endless laws to shield the snowflakes from reality are legion. And if I do exaggerate, its only be a matter of degree.”
“I think,” she said with that hint of her smile way she had, “…You were jealous of the CyberPolice, isn’t that so, Mr Malone?”
I told you she was perceptive. And the ‘Isn’t that so, Mr Malone?’
Was I back in court? I remembered she was a top Elite. She would have many high profile legal friends. They probably all spoke that way, all the time. “Pass the Malaysian Carrots, please Cynthia.” “Indeed..Please observe..the carrots are being passed in a controlled fashion. We shall label the bowl, exhibit A.”
“A little,” I reluctantly admitted. Meaning, a lot.
“They get all the media attention. The Department, where I worked, do a similar amount of pointless criminalising. But don’t ever get the recognition. Just because we don’t control the media and the internet.”
“Sore loser, Joe. If I remember correctly, that Flittock was the officer who brought down that Robinson character.”
“That dumbbell !” I said to her with real anger. “Flittock sat in an armoured van with the doors locked. He was petrified the whole time.”
I had sparked at her. Never shout or tell off a client. You learn that day one in business. The same day you learn that if they don’t pay, you don’t eat.
The rain was still coming down as she smoothly took the roundabout, getting through on all the Green Lights.
I calmed myself and evenly explained to her, “He was the Officer in charge of the final Yaxley-Lennon arrest, yes. And he left his officers to face the Tommy mob while he fled up the Post House Tower to the helicopters. It was like the last days of Saigon! He was just lucky a press picture caught him in the act of pushing Robinson into the chopper. So he looked diligent. In fact it was the opposite. He was trying to pull him out of the way so he could get in and save his own arse.
The co-pilot was one of our men. Said Flittock shook like a leaf all the way back to his offices. It was actually Robinson who had to comfort him. Put one of the silver blankets round him and fed him oxygen. That big baby. And Flittock was the one who had given the all clear codeword. The one for “team secured.”
When in reality, two officers were not secured for Evac, and had been left behind.
Those two were lucky to escape that riot alive.”
“How do you know two were left behind?”
“I was one of the two.”
She turned her eyes from the road to look at me. “You can’t be serious? You were in that awful riot.”
“I was first in. I was in the line when the whole of Tower Hamlets went up. It was a botched operation. And Flittock was Gold Command. And it was a disaster from the first moments he appeared.”
I stopped talking. Suddenly recalling the shouting. The noise of the sirens. The smoke and the flames. And the bloody smear on my boot that I don’t recall how it got there.
I was crouched behind some industrial bins when I first noticed it. Avoiding the paving stones being hurled by all sides. It was shaped like a raised middle finger.
Which was apt.
“Go on.” she said. I looked across at her. To see if she really wanted to know. She nodded at me to continue as her eyes looked from me to the road.
I began the story. Not all of it. Just the highlights that she’d know from the news.
“The planning for that day was way off. Allowing his group to hold a rally in Tower Hamlets was insane. The idea to arrest Yaxley at a highly controversial, well attended rally, and a certain flashpoint protest march was insane.
Everyone in the police force knew where Robinson lived. We arrested him every other day, for Chris’sake. A.C.E had him on speed dial, so they could tell him to pack a bag, as they were picking him up. He had one ready at all times, anyway.
But Inspector Gloria wanted a big public spectacle. Wanted the media there for the big take down. Government was serious this time. Had put the pressure on A.C.E to arrest him for something that would stick.
That idiot Flittock thought if he could get some disturbance at a rally, in a racially sensitive zone, that would be enough to get Robinson a long term prison sentence for inciting racial hatred. And him a promotion to Chief Superintendent.
His deputies warned him of the dangers. But, as is not uncommon, some junior admin over there had got the likely numbers wrong.
Instead of the predicted Thirty Thousand attendees for Robinson, they typed Three Thousand. And instead of the Forty Thousand counter-rally of the assorted anarcholeftist groups, they wrote the estimate up as Forty.
Gloria was attending with his Force of one hundred plus another hundred and fifty back-up. Which was plenty for those numbers. But not for the real numbers that coming. They ended up near to eighty thousand when all the residents kicked off too.
One of his deputies knew this was a disaster in the making and so called us in.
That’s why I was there with The Department. Because we had a lot of overlap with A.C.E. We often worked different ends of the same cases. If not harmoniously, then at least professionally.
I paused. That was a bad day. I didn’t really want to talk about it with someone I hardly knew. Though the therapists say that is the best way sometimes.
Did I mention to you The Department had evolved from the old Health And Safety Executive? I really should have told you lot of Puffins that earlier.
How do you think The Department can go anywhere and do anything, to anyone, without search warrants or evidence?
Suspicion is all that is needed.
“Hey..you the business owner? I have reason to believe you have a cardboard box of Red Bull in your corridor. And the water filter on your staff room tap might be out of date. I have three officers here who will carry out a detailed search and file a report.”
“But..I ..I don’t have a water filter..”
“You serious? You don’t have a water filter? Contrary to section 76 paragraph nine of the public health act [shops and businesses] 2019? Want me to shut you down? You want to be closed for six months pending investigation? Look lady, we are very busy people.
If I fix an ‘under investigation – closed until further notice’ C657/b to your door, you are closed for business. And even after six months, we might find nothing wrong here. But we might not have time to come back to remove the enforcement of closure sign.
Maybe for another six…So go busy yourself on something and stay out of our way, while we use your premises for a surveillance job, for a few days, Ok? And get us some of those Red Bulls too..”
The regular police agencies, like The Met, got more and more restricted by legislation. Unable to stop and search. Unable to arrest a first offender. Unable to detain a suspect for more than sixteen minutes, and so on. So they moved more and more into just doing community and social care. The nail painters and high heels face of local policing.
The Department, and Advanced Cybersocial Enforcement, became the most powerful policing organisations in the land.
You may recall those crazy airline protesters. The ones chaining themselves to aircraft and gluing themselves to wings, to prevent failed asylum deportations and wail about the environment. The Judge ruled the penalty for all that damage and delay they caused was just a police caution.
So then next time the Hippies got all beardy weirdy on board, The Department was asked to prosecute the ‘No-Soapers’ for wilfully obstructing an aircraft emergency exit. Failing to secure an overhead locker. Using a mobile phone while in an aircraft on the tarmac, and failing to fasten their seatbelts. Their leader got two years.
“The Department has the some of the most unconstrained freedom to act in the land,”
I said to Vanessa. Deciding I might as well tell her the tale.
“Except maybe for the on-line monitoring police. The Twitter cops. Gloria, I mean, Willow Flittock, he is Twitter Police.
They were running the show that day. I was just there with another Department guy to monitor Tommy Robinson’s microphone decibel level. We were going to get him on noise pollution if the race hate charges didn’t stick.”
I looked to see if she was still listening. She seemed to be. Even as she swapped lanes and timed the traffic and pollution monitoring lights.
“Why don’t you tell me about it all,” she said to me.
And as we were still away off from Westminster, I thought, what the heck, why not. And I settled back into the very comfortable passenger seat of her sporty Mercedes-Benz, and told her my tale.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file