Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Bloke
Smiley was seated on his usual bench by the Hanover Bridge in Regents Park as Haydon approached him. He didn’t look up even when Haydon joined him on the bench. Smiley’s gaze remained fixed levelly on the rooftops of Primrose Hill.
A moment hung in the cold November air before Smiley spoke.
“It’s bad, Jim.”
“I guessed as much.”
“One of our chaps has gone rogue.”
“I see.” Smiley remained mute. Haydon felt obliged to fill the silence
“Defection? Turned by the Comrades?”
Smiley shook his head imperceptibly. Haydon shrugged.
“Then he’s been fingered by the Cousins?”
Smiley looked at Haydon for the first time. His eyes were dark and impenetrable behind the bifocals.
“It’s worse, Jim. This threatens the whole circus.”
“Then what’s he done?” Smiley turned away to regard the rooftops.
“He’s……..started writing for a satirical spoof news website.”
“Oh Jesus. Who is it?”
“His operational legend was Blokefromstoke.”
“I remember. He was a departmental legend at the Berlin Centre. Then he dropped off the radar. What happened to him?” Smiley dropped his gaze to the cold grey waters of the boating lake.
“It isn’t pretty, Jim. He….” Smiley’s lip curled in distaste “He went into teaching.”
Haydon sighed “Poor Bastard.”
“He isn’t the first Jim. The craft devours the best and brightest. Always has. I remember Titus. He came back from Prague in ’78 a broken man. Only fit for punning headlines. And Wrenfoe. We lost him for nine months in Cambodia. He walked out of the jungle unable to say his own name, but able to put together a ticker gag in seconds. And poor old Dick Everyman. After his year with the Mujahadin, he was found in a Calcutta hotel room giggling over a Nib about Wombles he’d just written on the shower curtain.”
Haydon snorted involuntarily “Oh yes. I remember that. Quite funny, actually.”
Smiley regarded him impassively. He rose from the bench.
“Blokefromstoke is out of control. That FP about Osborne’s valet was the last straw.
This needs to be handled with a modicum of firmness.”
“I’ll handle it personally, George.”
“Be discreet. Keep a distance from the Circus. I need your best wet ops man on this.”
“Yes. Use Lens Cap.”
Wordlessly, Smiley turned and walked away along the edge of the lake. Haydon waited until Smiley had gone through the gate towards Baker Street and, for the first time, relaxed. That had been close. Too close. For an awful minute he thought Smiley had blown his cover. He took out his mobile. After a moment he was answered.
“Oxy, it’s me. Dick Everyman. Smiley’s onto Blokefromstoke.”
“Poor bastard. Still. He had a good run.”
“Hey listen, while you’re on, I got this idea for a Nib. Gove puts Justin Bieber’s lyrics on the GCSE syllabus.”
“Too late. Bloke’s already done it.”
“Shit. Got anything else?”
“I dunno, Francis Bacon painting made out of real bacon?”
“Mmmmm. Maybe Miley Cyrus offering training for school leavers.”
“Twerks Experience? Yeah. Like it…”
Some hours later as Regents Park surrendered to twilight, Everyman was still on the bench trading NiBs, unaware of the powerful binoculars trained on him from the tangled undergrowth of the island in the middle of the lake. From within the fake pigeon loft a radio handset crackled.
“Report please. Target Accquired?”
“Affirmative. Target acquired”
“Affirmative. Wayland Out.”
The handset crackled and died. Wayland’s lips curled in a smile……