TUESDAY, 27 AUGUST 1991
"Here we are, my darling." Archivist Evelyn Warren was known throughout Macdonald House for her thoroughness, her lion-like temper towards those she despised (as well as her enthusiastic fondness for those she quite liked), and her spectacles, which on this day were bevel-edged and monogrammed and set in a frame of diamond-studded mauve plastic. She placed an boxload of paper still warm from the laser printer onto the counter. "I'm afraid I had to go on an expedition through MI5's database for much of what you asked for, which accounts for the delay. I'll tick these off as I pass them over to you, shall I? Just to make quite certain I haven't missed anything. Post Office - deep level tunnels to secure communications. Underground exchange at Kingsway. Whitehall excavations...Buckingham Palace - engineers building the Victoria Line had to divert 350 yards to the east to avoid the Queen's underground apartments - that's a nice euphemism for air raid shelter, isn't it, my love? They keep her personal jewellery collection down there these days, I'm told. HM shelter linked to Citadel tunnel network at the opposite end of The Mall...Fortress London - the Whitehall complex linked to Citadel at St. Paul's, Bastion at Covent Garden, Rampart at Waterloo, Fortress at Moorgate...."
She paused to allow Ian time to straighten the stack on the countertop.
"Now then - Emergency HQ of London's civil flood control centre. That's the abandoned section of tram tunnel at Theobold's Road. The rest of it's been converted to a traffic bypass between Holborn and Waterloo Bridge. Bit of a liability if you want my opinion, down below the level of the river and sitting bang on top of one of the city's main interceptory sewers. But there you are. And the telephone exchange between Hatton Garden and Red Lion Square, created from a deep-level air raid shelter - two tunnels, a hundred feet down. Eating, sleeping and working facilities on the Red Lion side, telecommunications plant, generators and repeating stations at Hatton Garden. They've also got four extension tunnels running underneath Chancery Lane tube station."
Ian was double-checking the printouts against the inventory list. There was one subject left.
"Yes, my darling, your sound cannon data." She licked a finger and retrieved the pages from the bottom of the box. "Very hush-hush in its day. The last time anybody had a good look at the file was 1966. I'm quite certain it's since been declassified, but for official purposes it's still Eyes Only, so you won't leave it lying about on a bus or in a public lavatory, will you, my love, or I shall have to Deny All Knowledge and that would be grim, as I've used your identity number to access the system." She took off her spectacles. "All right, then?"
"Understood, Mrs. Warren," Ian said, bundling the papers under his arm. "Thank you."
"Not at all, my darling." She took his list. "Come and see me anytime you like, except on Friday afternoons when I'm away at my Country Line Dancing lessons."
She replaced her spectacles and returned to her desk. Ian exited Archives to the unmistakable grinding whine of a shredder reducing his scribbled jottings to bits and pieces of square-edged confetti.
He met his father and Emma twenty minutes later, in St. James's Park.
"I don't suppose you've any idea what this vast body of water's actually called, do you?" Evan said, as they walked together towards the bridge. "I've never been able to find out."
"It's called The Lake in St. James's Park," Emma replied, sensibly. "It was once a swamp." She quoted from some long-ago referenced guidebook, now largely forgotten. "'The park is a favourite place for Government Ministers and officials to enjoy some fresh air away from their Whitehall offices nearby, and Londoners take little notice when seeing, among the many people feeding the birds from the lake bridge, the familiar faces of a statesman or two.'"
"Or a spy or two," Evan added, humorously. "Any luck with the travel agency?"
"Number 84, Romilly Square," Emma confirmed. "The very same site as Seasound Radio's business office in the 1960's."
"How big's the agency?" Ian asked.
"Not very. Harry Dailey, Proprietor, and two assistants - Maureen Johns, lives in Wimbledon. Sara Woodford, West Hampstead."
"Which means we can't easily infiltrate," Evan said, thinking.
"I was able to discover something else about the building, Evan. It was once a tube station. Romilly Square. I thought I recalled it from the war, so I rang up London Underground and they verified it for me. There might be a new avenue of possibility for you in that."
"There might, indeed," Evan replied. They had reached the bridge. "Have you had a chance to look at the package we retrieved from the Covent Garden drop?"
"Briefly, yes. It's a bit mouldy, but I believe I can make do. I was quite the dab hand at that sort of thing in my heyday at the Firm."
Without comment, Evan reached into his pocket and scattered the remains of a breakfast roll into the water below, where they were immediately set upon by a convention of squabbling ducks.
"I do hope you know what you're doing," Emma added.
"I think I know Victor and Nora," Evan replied. "And I believe I know something about human nature." He turned to Ian, who was deep in thought, his hands clasped over the side of the railing. "What's the matter, old son?"
"The girl in the travel agency - Sara Woodford. I've come across that name before. Years ago."
"In Vancouver," he said, perplexed. "For some reason...." He stopped. "I know," he said. "Yes."
Below the surface, British Museum was a ghost. For thirty-three years it had been a vital, living entity, and then its stone and iron platforms had been demolished and its white-painted walls allowed to grow dull in the darkness, its usefulness to the travelling public surpassed by a new interchange constructed one hundred yards to the east, at Holborn.
You could still see the remnants as you travelled down the Central Line. One feature of the old Central London Railway had been a rising gradient of 1 in 60 at the approach to each of its station platforms - to help with braking - and a drop of 1 in 30 for a hundred yards on the way out, to encourage acceleration. The hump in the tracks was still there, as was the sudden widening of the running tunnel, followed by the faint white gleam of the station tiles on the walls. You could still see the steps at the far end of what used to be the platform.
Anthony had brought his camera with him, and his faithful notebook, its pages filled margin to margin with details of impassioned history, his cramped, left-handed writing so neat it might have been mistaken at first glance for printing. He had amassed volumes on the three dozen abandoned Underground stations of London. He'd made them sit for portraits, he'd undertaken pilgrimages, he'd paid his respects.
British Museum's unused platforms had sheltered Londoners during the air raids and, after the air raids were over, the Ministry of Defence had moved in, and turned its tunnels into an administrative office for the Brigade of Guards.
He slipped his headset down - he'd been listening to The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset, one of those songs that evoked a long-ago memory of ragged grey clouds and twilight, of people rushing home to warm yellow sitting rooms, of that peculiar smell of city train stations on wet days: soggy newspapers and damp concrete.
He was looking for a building, an ordinary structure of light brown, unglazed terracotta, dating from the turn of the century, upon whose flat roof he had heard a contemporary brick office block had been imposed.
Was that it?
Anthony went closer. There was a modern bank, flanked with greenery and planters and paving stones. There was a small lane, signposted: BLOOMSBURY COURT. And there was a building on the other side of the lane, nondescript, a block of brick flats on top of a terracotta-walled sandwich shop.
There was a tiny sign painted on the side of the building, an old-fashioned direction, a hand with a pointing finger:
With one foot on the concrete planter belonging to the bank, Anthony primed his camera, framed the shot, and took the picture.
Slinging the camera over his shoulder by its strap, he continued his westward jaunt, going underground at last at Tottenham Court Road.
It was by far the most colourful tube station in London, its Central Line platforms bright with raucous Italian mosaics, abstract patchworks of musical instruments and tape decks, headphones, vacuum tubes, transistors and turntables.
He was surprised to discover his father waiting for him underneath the train indicator.
"How did you know I'd be here?" he said, curiously.
"A professional secret," his father replied.
Anthony was unimpressed. "You followed me."
"For a little while, yes."
"Why can't you use a telephone, like a normal person? Why does it always have to be this mysterious cloak and dagger business?"
Evan didn't say anything.
"You enjoy playing the part, that's why," Anthony decided, sitting down. "Jarrod Spencer is alive and well and re-living the 1960s in London. To what do I owe the honour of this particular encounter?"
"I was wondering whether you might agree to do another spot of research for us, Anthony."
His middle son contemplated the platform.
"It's to do with the Underground," Evan added.
"Yes, I thought that would get your attention."
An hour later, Anthony pulled open the glass door of the Transport Museum at Covent Garden, paid his fee at the turnstile, and was admitted.
Here there were graphic panels chronicling two centuries of London's mobile past, and audio visual displays. Briefly, he stopped to examine the cream and red double-decker trams and the antique steam trains, then strolled along to the Underground exhibits. There was a working mock-up of a section of tube tunnel, with a hissing, slamming, pneumatically-run track junction and a detailed explanation of what the various strings of wires represented, and which two rails were for running trains over-and which two were crawling with 600 volts of electricity.
Just down from the mocked-up tunnel was the cab of a tube train, another working display, a simulation. Anthony joined the end of the queue, which was short and comprised of children in school blazers who crowded into the cab three and four at a time, and who clambered out again well before their five minutes were up.
His turn next: he entered alone. The interior of the cab was spartan and painted regulation green. He perched tentatively upon the driver's stool, surrounded by the smell of the Underground, the sounds, the aura of complete enclosure and the deep darkness.
He pressed a button and the journey began. The front of the train slipped into a black hollow pinpointed by the faint grey speck of the next station, a long way in front.
The simulated trip was over five minutes later. Anthony stepped out, filled up, carrying the experience away with him in the same way that communicants left the altar in the Catholic church.
It took a moment to re-orient himself. There, against the wall, was what he'd really come for: a retrospective photo display of The Blitz. There was also a map, studded with push pins: red flags for the locations of public shelters, under King William Street, Borough, Aldwych, City Road, British Museum. Blue for vital war offices set up in disused station tunnels: Brompton Road, which had been closed in 1934, a victim of the opening of the Hans Crescent exit of nearby Knightsbridge, reprieved a decade later to become the operations centre for London's anti-aircraft command. Down Street, closed in 1932, one of its obsolete lift shafts retained for ventilation, its underground passageways appropriated by the Railway Executive Committee. Dover Street, made redundant by the opening of Green Park in 1933, its entrance tunnels used during the war by London Transport as their emergency headquarters. Twenty years after that, Dover Street's abandoned lift shafts had been re-employed to shift spoil during the excavation of the Victoria Line.
Stations that had received direct hits. Anthony followed the fine thread lines from each of the black-flagged pins, across the map to the litany of damage, the reports of the dead and injured varying as wildly as the locations of the bombsites -v ictims not only of the Luftwaffe, but also of wartime censorship and questionable record-keeping. Marble Arch, September 17, 1940, anywhere from 7 to 18 dead. Trafalgar Square, October 12, 1940, 7 killed. Bounds Green, one night later, 19 dead and 52 injured. Balham, the night after that, 600 shelterers buried alive, if the worst could be taken as gospel. Sloane Square, November 12, 1940, 82 injured. Bank, January 11, 1941, anywhere from 56 dead and 69 injured to 117 killed outright.
And the last one. Safety in the heart of the West End, shelter for actors and audience alike, never without a roaming troop of entertainers to occupy the hours while chaos prevailed above. Opened in 1907, closed forever on January 14, 1941, after a bomb dropped from a lone German Heinkle burst through the grassy square on the surface and completely destroyed the northbound platform, burying at least twenty shelterers in a deadly mountain of ballast, sand, gas and water.
Anthony copied the details into his pocket notebook with a fine-pointed, felt-tipped pen.
He closed the notebook, then backtracked to the Transport Museum's Way In to see what there was in the bookstore.
British Security and Intelligence maintained a number of outlets in London - satellite offices, bureaus, assorted departments. The grandfather of these had always been MI5's headquarters in Mayfair. The reality of modern times, however, had necessitated a relatively recent removal from these very public environs in Curzon Street, to an altogether less compromising property Somewhere Else in London.
Somewhere else in London, Rupert Chadwick, aged 22 years and six months, was diligently at work at his newly-assigned office near the main staircase.
"Sir," he said, as his immediate superior appeared in the doorway with yet another armful of files which needed to be appended. "Did you know that nineteen feet below the MOD offices in Montagu House, there's a wine cellar?"
"Is there indeed?" Victor Barnfather deposited the cardboard folders on the fledgling's desk. He was impressed with his charge: young Rupert was conscientious to a fault. And the Chadwicks had money: their son had gone to good schools. He dressed impeccably: white shirt with pinstripes, navy tie, charcoal suit.
"Cardinal Wolsey's wine cellar, in fact, sir. Sixty-four feet long, 32 feet wide, and 20 high. And in 1947, when the Army was digging out its subterranean fortress underneath Montagu House, the government arranged to have the cellar-encased in steel girders and cushioned on blocks of mahogany-moved, on rollers, a quarter of an inch at a time, for 43 and a half feet."
"And then," Rupert said, "after the excavations had been completed, in 1949, the cellar was moved all the way back again, a quarter of an inch at a time. It's open to the public once a month. That sort of thing does fall under our jurisdiction, doesn't it?"
"If it's beneath the streets and accessible by man - yes, Rupert, it does. Among other things, this department maintains ongoing records on all of the city's underground works, particularly those in close proximity to our more sensitive installations."
He was holding back one of the files.
"Yes, sir?" Rupert inquired.
"I'd like you to have a look into this, if you would. It's just a routine inquiry, nothing too out of the ordinary."
Rupert opened the dossier. "The Fitzroy Theatre," he said, thinking. "That's up near Cambridge Circus, isn't it, sir?"
"And they've had an electrical outage?"
"The second one this month, apparently."
"Is it something we ought to be terribly worried about, sir?"
"Not really. Apparently the theatre's built on top of some sort of Roman ruin and just before the blackout there was a report of a loud bang from below. When they went to have a look they found the place awash in water. Ring up the appropriate authority, Rupert, ask for a copy of their written investigation - if they bother to issue such a thing - and put it in the file. That's all."
"Why is it important to us, sir? The Fitzroy Theatre, I mean?"
Victor considered the fledgling. "There's something else for you to do, Rupert. In fact, you ought to make it your next project, after you've dealt with this blackout business. Look up Fortress London in your computer, and see what it tells you."
"Fortress London," Rupert repeated, jotting it down on his Things I Must Do Today message pad and putting a large star beside it.
"After you've sorted out the Fitzroy Theatre," Victor said again.
"Yes, sir. I'll get onto it right away, sir."
Nora Darrow bent down to collect Harry Dailey's morning post, which had been dropped through the mail slot in the door, and scattered across the tiled floor of the front hallway. Harry Daily was himself Not In, but as he had impressed upon her on numerous occasions - especially after she'd had one of her eruptions with Simon and needed a sympathetic shoulder and a stiff drink - my house is your house, Nora, the spare key's in the flowerpot on the back step, don't hesitate to make yourself at home.
She had, in fact, made herself quite at home, although she doubted Harry would mind. He was a strange sort of fish, Harry Dailey, somewhere in his fifties, unmarried, and not the least bit inclined towards engaging her in any sort of romantic liaison. Not that she doubted his sexuality: there were plenty of girlfriends, all of the much younger variety, in it for the good time, Nora suspected - the promise of a quick jet-away to Morocco or Tenerife, the lure of a luxury cruise round the Greek islands.
Nora had first made Harry's acquaintance at one of Simon's do's - some promotion or other he'd been involved in, the grand prize being an all-expenses paid trip to Disneyworld - and Harry'd been on hand to draw the names and book the seats. In theory, he was friends with both of them, but in fact, he had always preferred Nora's company to Simon's.
Sorting through the letters, she was surprised by a typed postcard, addressed to herself.
Frau Darrow, it said, briefly. Please ring me. I have in my possession something which may be of interest to you. There was a telephone number, and a signature: Lügner.
Intrigued, Nora carried the postcard into the sitting room. Who could possibly know that she was staying here? Unless....
She dismissed the thought. Harris wasn't that clever. He didn't have the resources at his disposal. She'd been keeping a close eye on that man: if he'd enlisted the help of anybody at MI5, she certainly would have known about it.
Placing the telephone on the arm of the settee, she dialled the number.
"This is Lügner." He had a pleasant enough voice. Very German.
"And this is Nora Darrow."
"Frau Darrow! How good of you to ring."
"How did you happen to know I was here, if you don't mind my asking?"
The German voice at the other end was noncommittal. "I have my ways."
"Your postcard mentioned an article which might be of interest to me."
"Indeed, Frau Darrow."
"What is it?"
"Perhaps you would care to meet me, in order to discuss the matter."
"But I know nothing about you," she deferred, charmingly.
"You know I am called Lügner, and you must know I am German. I am East German, in fact, but this is no longer important, as we are all meant to be good friends now, are we not?"
"Where shall we meet, then, Herr Lügner?"
"Shall we say the London Dungeon, Friday afternoon at two? You know of this place?"
"I think I ought to be able to find it. How will I recognize you?"
"I am older. I am grey-haired. I promise I shall wear a white carnation in my buttonhole, and I shall carry a shopping bag from that famous department store, Harrod's."
"I can't wait."
"You will not be disappointed, Frau Darrow. This I can guarantee."
"Until tomorrow afternoon, then, Herr Lügner."
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