Can I sell you a spare submarine?

2008-01-12 00:00

My God, my God, oh my God. The stuff that arrives on my desk in plain brown envelopes is impossible to believe. Mostly, this is the direct result of the general public’s favourable opinion of the media, which they know can be trusted to tell the truth and right wrongs, although not necessarily in that order.

But to get back to the plain brown envelopes. Never in my long life in media has even one of them contained cash, jewels, unusual pharmaceuticals or subscriptions to illustrated magazines with very little text. What does come from time to time are the secret reports of the network of moles I run. These moles, most of whom are human, are located in every single branch of power throughout this great though sorely misunderstood nation of ours.

So you can imagine the thrill when yesterday’s plain brown envelope contained a very interesting blank sheet of white paper. For most people, this would have been a signal to chuck it in the bin, but thanks to the tradecraft picked up from the complete works of Le Carré I knew exactly what to do with it. In a trice, I set up the ironing board I keep next to my desk at the office, plugged in my iron and after ascertaining — with spit — that it had reached the appropriate temperature, carefully ran it across the sheet of paper. It worked, as they say back at HQ, like a charm. Up came the invisible writing, clear as daylight, but quite a lot darker. And what a story it had to tell.

It seemed, as my fevered eye raced across the text, that this was nothing less than page 93 of the verbatim transcript of the very first meeting between something called The La Luta Continua Widows and Orphans Pension Fund and a friendly group of international arms dealers, all of whom —thank God! — spoke English.

First bid was for the new submarine. On offer was nothing less than the new Rosebud large diesel-electric submarine designed to destroy enemy submarines, surface warships and vessels operating independently or in battle order. With all the features of its predecessor the Sunflower, it included improvements such as enhanced power diesel generators, increased underwater speed, a snorkelling range of 7 500 nautical miles, sound and video entertainment modules in every bunk, toilets with doors, and the 3M-54E Club-S anti-ship cruise missile system together with a variety of advanced electronic support systems.

Not only that, said the salesman, but for every nine you buy you get one free, plus a Merc SUV for your wife or wives, free education for life for all your children and a season ticket to Disneyland.marine? asked a spokesperson. After all, we don’t have the personnel for one submarine, never mind nine of them.

But what are we going to do with the free submarine, asked a spokesperson. After all, we donít have the personnel for one submarine, never mind nine of them. Simple, said the dealer. Al-Quaeda want to establish a secret fleet in the Dead Sea. Phone this number and let them make you an offer.

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