In Defence of the Realm

Chapter 1

With all the downsizing going on, I’d decided to take redundancy from the army. I’d been one of the lucky ones, no family to consider, just myself to take care of.

I’d now been at the head office of Markent Marketing Ltd, just outside Gloucester and backing onto the Forest of Dean, for the last three months, having started in April. Although I wasn’t in any significant position, and just worked in their post room, I was quite enjoying the job – not having to look over my shoulder, or check where I was about to place my feet, or any other intense crap I’d had to put up with whilst on duty.

It was a total and utter relief, and, believe it or not, the pay wasn’t that much different, either, though I missed the benefits associated with my army career.

However, days flew by because Markent Marketing had major accounts with insurance giants, banks and loan companies, sending out and receiving all their junk mail, and we were in the middle of large promotional campaigns.

The guy, my mentor, Jacob Brizelthwaite, had been at the company since it’d been started by David Markent in the late ’90s. But to me it seemed like Mr Brizelthwaite had been operating this particular post room even before Markent had taken over the building, and David Markent had just absorbed Mr Brizelthwaite’s post room into his operation.

If I was to guess, I would have said that Mr Brizelthwaite was at least twenty years past retirement. Don’t get me wrong, he seemed astute enough, mobile enough, but his grizzled face, unruly, almost white hair and circular specs atop his short nose, spoke of someone a lot older.

Since joining the company I’d watched Jacob intently; one thing was for sure, I was going to do this job and do it well. And I’d mimicked him, questioned him and done everything he’d told me.

But on occasions, when he thought no one was watching, he would do something he’d never mentioned during my three month probationary period.

On occasions he’d open one of the letters as normal, stare at it intently for a moment then file it in an unmarked lever-arch folder – making sure no one was looking. I don’t think he understood the training we got in the army.