One of my favourite things about going to Westminster station every day is rubbing shoulders with all the preposterous characters who comprise our fine civil service. I’m not talking about the statisticians and think-tank grey men. No. I mean the spies and assassins.

A guy overtook me on the escalator this morning. He was 5’11”, thin, wore a dark suit, had an immaculately trimmed sinister silver goatee, closely cropped silver hair, cold blue eyes and a protruding nose.

It was as if he was Pinnochio’s psychopathic cousin, his nose growing every time he killed someone. I say this because I had a flash of insight as he walked past me. ‘This man has killed many people’, I thought to myself. ‘He carries around syringes and vials of cyanide in a black leather case – I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life’.

I picture him entering a small basement room, lit by a single 40w bulb. He stares dispassionately at the naked, bruised and weary man tied to a chair. He snaps on surgical gloves and then opens his syringe case. That kind of thing.

I wondered if my over-active imagination was getting the better of me, until I emerged from the underground and saw him briskly entering the Ministry of Defence building on Whitehall. Picking up his next manilla envelope, no doubt.


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