A big house always has its secret passages. And like all
good shows, the servants must appear as if from nowhere if
this house is to be seen to run its seamless ilusion.
You locate the right passages fast, and now we’re climbing
up and up, winding one stairwell, then another, snaking our
way around in this unseasonal gloom, past a nevertheless
palpable build-up to tonight’s grand party. It takes ten
minutes to reach the top corridor. It seemed longer; but
we’re professionals focused on the job ahead. In the din I
monitor my breathing and my soft, ballet-like steps against
the constant force of rain; we’re both acutely aware of any
Suddenly, two servants advance. We don’t know if they’ve
spotted us; yet instinct and experience dictate we dissolve
like shadows into the background. Doors augment the
corridors at continual points; we hide in one of these.
Footsteps striding in our direction, sounds so purposeful.
But the chatter soon tells us they’ll pass by. They do. Close
Now we’re alone, and it’s on with the mission. Your nod
leads the way to Brompton’s private study, towards the end
of this corridor. Steadily and stealthily we make our
But hang on. There’s a peculiar noise coming from one of
the other rooms. You shoot a look at me. My eyes frown: an
unnecessary distraction. Yet you persist, and I know why.
Ok, I advance towards this door, quietly, firmly taking its
handle in my hand, gently turning, shuddering at the creak,
shuddering again - the door whispers open. A little bit… bit
more… until we both peer within. “Ah-ha, told you,” your
eyes twinkle at me. All right, so a couple’s shagging as a
computer screen relays some athletic-looking porn.
Someone’s paid their subscription; so I guess I owe you a
pound for your hazelnut collection. Hmmnn… I feel your
eyebrows brimming under that balaclava: “Yeh, yeh, shut up,
we’ve got things to do.” I close the door gently. Don’t think
they noticed us, they were having too much fun.
Finally, here it is, Lord Brompton’s private study. Within:
those stamps. But you tell me he’s installed the most
sophisticated security system money can buy. Your analysis
of it had better be right, every single aspect of it. Otherwise