Friday, 12 June 2015

Stoneburgh Spy Campus Archive . . . (Pt. 4) R.A.P.I.E.R. Birth of a Plausible Intriguer and Enterprising Rogue.

As outlined in the first of these occasional bulletins from the Archives of Stoneburgh Military Academy, the noted socialite ‘Barbara Ely’ had been seconded to the Applied Behavioural Science and Psychological Operations unit of military intelligence based at Stoneburgh; an outcome that was surely almost inevitable, given her close friendship with Anthony Blunt

As a psycho-scenarist of criminal rôle-play for lectures in state espionage, this dazzling socialite won a reputation within intelligence circles that was close to legendary, a reputation evidently strengthened by the corpus of training ‘featurettes’ she devised for the instruction of probationary intelligence agents. 

The scenarios range over a number of countersubversion activities encountered in the IOC (Intelligence Operations Course) taught at Stoneburgh, including Diplomatic Cover, Turnaround, Bona Fides, Rogue Agent, Stalking Horse, and the functions of a Useful Idiot.

For Turnaround see:

Here (in an extract from Rogue Agent) is Barbara’s sketch of disaffected fifteen-year-old (a youth modelled we have no doubt on the formative years of the traitor George Blake, a warped Calvinist) which gives us a glimpse of the schooldays of the ‘justifed sinner’ Blake professed himself to be. The ‘featurette’ is in the confessional mode of a schoolboy diary.

See also Profiling MI6’s Predestined Mole:

‘Of course, Judas was reputedly a southpaw; medieval iconography invariably
depicts his bag of thirty pieces of silver clutched in his left hand.’
(Detail: Altar of the Holy Blood, lime-wood, Circa 1500, and arch traitor George Blake.
Note the Lacoste ‘Krokodil’ brand on Blake’s sports shirt; maybe his intended nod to 
Soviet political satire of Western capitalism.)

Friday, September 5 : I was put ‘On Report’ last week because of my late submission of an essay demanded by the school chaplain. 
  Old Hopalong [Rev. H. W. F. Walmesley] was once a star track runner, a champ of the hundred yard dash until invalided out of the army. His faith, like that of my father’s, is of a doctrinaire brand of muscular Christianity, and he is no less stern in censure of a miscreant’s lapses from high conduct.
  So when this afternoon I was called out of class to report to his pastoral office in the school chapel I was pretty much prepared for any outburst of outraged godliness I may have provoked.
  I found him in the robing-room of the vestry; a thin, dry, raw-boned man, with a curiously lazy right eye, which causes his active eye to gleam with greater fixity on the penitents summoned before him. 
  I saw my essay lay on the shelf of the ambry where the sky pilot and the choristers hang their vestments.
  Old Hopalong was evidently in a tailspin. He sighed then huffed again on his spectacles to polish them.
  ‘I confess I am grievously displeased to see a debauchee so strayed from the path as to have wholly lost his way. I fear the clear light from the candle of the Lord no longer shines on your soul.’
  He limped to the shelf and leafed through my manuscript.
  ‘I agree, sir,’ I answered placidly, ‘my premise is a somewhat complicated and abstruse calculation.’
  Judas Iscariot: How the Twelfth Man Won the Match, my casuistical entry for the Divinity Prize Essay on the set topic of Predestination and the Betrayal Paradox, draws on the laws of cricket to examine the fulfilment of prophecy. I cited a recent notable county game in which the match was saved by a left-handed substitute player no less able than his fellows. (Three left-handed catches in two innings! A county record!) Of course, Judas was reputedly a southpaw; medieval iconography invariably depicts his bag of thirty pieces of silver clutched in his left hand.
  My contention, then, has been to reveal to my schoolmasters that Judas was not the villain-of-the-piece nor unusually wicked, and the lesson we can learn from Judas’s rôle as fate-conniving instrument in the drama of the Apostolate is that out of any twelve men chosen for the advancing of an enterprise – in fact, out of any twelve men assembled on a field of play, never mind the cricket pitch – one man probably is, or will be, a Judas.
  Old Hopalong pressed his hand to his forehead with all the febrility of a neurasthenic. Clearly he was impervious to reason, so I savoured all the more this unequal duel of brains.
  He snorted and examined me forbiddingly over misted specs. 
  Qui vult decipi, decipiatur. I am not among the gullible who wish to be deceived, young man, nor shall I be deceived. My faith is a true blade that cuts through deceit.’
  He pointed to an initialled comment scrawled in red pen on my essay’s title page.
  I nodded and smiled encouragingly.
  ‘I can’t pretend to say I understand you very well.’ 
  ‘R.A.P.I.E.R.!’ He roared. ‘The Ready Answer of a Plausible Intriguer and Enterprising Rogue!’  
  His face had darkened a shade. He eased the celluloid of his dog collar as tears gathered in his failing eyes . . .

Note: Kim Philby, the Third Man of the Cambridge Five spy ring, was an avid follower of cricket and occupied himself after his defection to the Soviet Union mostly by reading The Times sports pages.

Catherine Eisner believes passionately in plot-driven suspense fiction, a devotion to literary craft that draws on studies in psychoanalytical criminology and psychoactive pharmacology to explore the dark side of motivation, and ignite plot twists with unexpected outcomes. 
see Eisner’s Sister Morphine (2008)
(where the counterespionage operations of Stoneburgh may be read in Red Coffee)
and Listen Close to Me (2011)

No comments:

Post a Comment