BY RICHARD NASH
WARNING – CONTAINS MILD PERIL
A Posthumous Briefing From Sergeant Bill Tell
(Second Covert Battalion, The Royal Deniables)
Killing for a living’s no life; the pay’s flexible, the
hours are generous and there’s no point planning
for a pension. Take my advice and tread a less
treacherous career path, there’s a crevasse around
every corner. Still, life’s too short to listen to an
assassin’s whinge. Mine certainly was. These words
are my own, but if you’re reading them, this writer’s
already a ghost.
First of all, congratulations: you found the lock-up.
It can’t have been easy. Battersea’s riddled with
slaughters and this was one of the rustiest.
I hope the instructions triggered by my death
weren’t too heavily coded, but this was my life
insurance policy, may I rest in peace.
You’re now the proud owner of my journal (sorry
about the praying mantis stains), the retarded
Intelligence Officer’s transcripts (amazing what you
can swap for a pair of Carling Cup tickets) and the
notes he stole from the Chief Inspector (just because
the Met’s only socialist folk musician is on
permanent work-to-rule and prefers paperwork
to policing, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go with
his gut: it’s got feeling).
I’ve also included hand-drawn maps of Outer Ggaga
and Wandsworth, a glossary of regimental and
floricultural terms and a few links to relevant
Walloon arms dealing websites.
The whole bundle should be enough to take the
bastards down: unless, of course, you’re one of the
Cat-Taming the SAS way
I was trained to stick to the facts. You see, a soldier’s
marooned in the moment, grappling with the present,
dealing with the deadly now. Dream of the future and
you won’t have one, linger on the past and you’re
But if everything’s How? and never Why? then
life’s a bit So What?
I never used to be burdened by an imagination,
but a light came on and I can’t switch it off.
Marie-Thérèse, sub-Saharan Africa’s best-read
nocturnal businesswoman, conjured my brain back
from the dead, the Ambassador’s deception forced
me to question authority and Jezebel O’Hell
(née Geraldine), Wandsworth’s most bashful
dominatrix, taught me compassion. I’m grateful
to the three of them, but they’ve crowded
this killing machine with benevolent ghosts.
Once, my mind was fully occupied with matters
of operational detail; now, fuzzy feelings clog up
my nervous system, doubt blurs my vision and pity
slows my hand. I’m a better man, but my own worst
enemy. That’s self-improvement for you.
I’m a professional squaddie, well past my shoot-by
date. I was blooded inBelfast, kidnapped in Kosovo
and abandoned in Angola. I’ve worked undercover
in the SAS, pulling the plug on a demonically
devious mercenary recruitment scam, but
overcover, I’m a Military Policeman, Close
Protection Unit. We might be a bunch of
ruthless bastards, but at least we’re nicely
turned out: royal blue blazers, lily-white shirts,
ties knotted in perfect Windsors, trousers pressed
beyond the wildest imaginings of Corby, shoes
shinier than an Osmond’s dentistry and dinky
shoulder-satchels packed with pieces of self-
I might be nerveless, but I’m built like a jockey:
scraping five-foot two in my reinforced yomping
boots. By tradition, shortarsed CPO’s are nicknamed
‘Legs’, but everyone just calls me ‘Big Man’. Irony, eh?
I’m more heavily decorated than a Norwegian spruce
in late December, but medals are cheap when you’re
indifferent to Death and Bravery’s fine if you’ve
got nothing to lose. I wanted something to lose or,
to be more exact, someone.
I may have nightmarched naked across glaciers,
convinced the IRA and UDA to kneecap each other’s
quartermasters and swum the Euphrates under hostile
fire, but off-duty I still live at home with my mum.
Now don’t get me wrong, Rose is a gem and I’m
happy to post her all my danger money, but a nice
cup of tea, a slice of Battenberg and a single bed
do not a life make. All I’m saying is it’s easy to put
your life on the line if you haven’t got one.
The events described take place principally in the
Walloon Republic of Outer Ggaga, the London
Borough of Wandsworth and the Chelsea Flower
Show. You won’t have heard of the Walloon
Republic of Outer Ggaga: if you have, there’s been
an almighty cock-up in operational security.
Safe to say, it’s dangerous. The skies are riddled
with ghost planes, black helicopters and
unexplained Zeppelins. The roads are plagued
with Walloon petal trucks, windowless SUVs and
retired Routemasters in silent convoys. It’s an
open invitation to the scruple-free; control the
rose routes and you can run diamonds, drugs
or guns. The country is East Africa’s very own
Chinatown; a nexus for dark occurrences,
double-dealing and deniable transactions.
This is no place for conspiracy theory; it’s the
capital of conspiracy practice.
The Outer Ggagaan Trifijd (the ‘j’ is silent) is
perhaps the world’s most secret currency; you cash
it in and out on the border like casino chips.
Named after Norbert Trifijd, the Belgian botanist
who cultivated the country’s first field of Paul’s
Lemon Pillar and started the Rose Rush, it’s
ideal for rinsing any ill-gotten swag as white as
Sergeant Bill Tell masters a new vehicle - the Barbie bike
I make no apologies for the graveyard gags, nerdy
moments and overall blokishness. I need to maintain
my morale in adversity and I aim to entertain – call
me a circus troop. So, welcome to my war memorial.
It’s either a bleeding slab of hairyarsed Git Lit or
“hardboiled magical realism”, if you believe Marie-
Thérèse. She suggested I call it “Get Angela Carter”,
but I’m no Michael Caine (we may have the same
accent, but he’s about a foot taller than me and
when I act, no one survives to applaud).
Marie-Thérèse was generous with her advice:
Show don’t tell, Tell (my actions have always
shouted for themselves), Don’t try too hard
(unfortunately, I always give a four-figure
percentage) and Keep it plausible (as far as my
life’s concerned, Fate’s surname might as well be
Munchausen – weird shit occurs hourly).
I suppose it’s my fault for not giving peace a
chance. Pacifism’s disarming, but I’ve never
been one to lie down and be discounted. I don’t
choose the wars; they choose me.
By example I led, by mistake I fell, after a
kickboxing Walloon, a stampeding warthog
and a fornicating priest left me floating
rudderless on Lake Excrement and triggered a run
on the Outer Ggagaan Trifijd. That’s how I ended
up working as target man for one of Wandsworth’s
most ruthless florists, a firm linked to a series of
gangland deliveries. They needed me to give the
good news to a woman they thought had
kipperstitched them like a bunch of
bornyesterdays (why use two words when one
will do – even if it is longer and non-existent?).
The florists wanted me to take her out; I did and
we had a great time. Now I’m next on the hit list
and she’s absolutely furious.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that my first attempt
at romance went arse-upwards. If you need
someone to tame a Tamil Tiger, improvise a bivouac
in the enemy rear or infiltrate a Colombian
Narcoterrorist cartel, I’m your man, but when
it comes to matters of the heart, you’d be better off
consulting a breezeblock.
I know Death’s a fact of life, but another decade or
three would have rounded things off nicely. I thought
all this was a mid-life crisis; now, it’s looking like an
I’ve had a good innings, but my Ashes can wait.
I’m torturing a metaphor, but there’s no Geneva
Convention for grammar.
So, this is how I infiltrated an international
gang of homicidal florists, recovered the world’s
most valuable conflict diamond (The Great Star of
Mount Heha) and found love on the Wandsworth
Gyratory System. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m
about to enter a nine-sided shoot-out with FARC,
ETA, Hamas, Mossad, Agnostic Jihad, an uneasy
coalition of Chechen Warlords, the Real UDA and
Belladonna’s Floral Deliveries.
TO BE CONTINUED… (Another free upload soon)
LOUISE GREENBERG BOOKS ltd
The End House Church Crescent
London N3 1BG England
+44 20 8349 1179 +44 (0)777 448 0889
Incorporated at Cardiff (England & Wales) No 4676766
Registered Office 14 Accommodation Rd London NW11 8EP