In Defence of the Realm

Chapter 2

It was getting to me and I hadn’t slept well. Questions kept coming into my head; was I not good enough to be trained how to deal with those “special” letters Jacob dealt with? Was I untrusted? What the hell was wrong with me?

It was only 5am and the office was only thirty minutes away. It was way too early to go in, and there was no point in trying to get back to sleep before the alarm went off; I knew the questions would start up in my head as soon as it hit the pillow.

I turned on the radio and listened to the day’s breaking news. More extreme weather it seemed, more corruption in the banks – some that went back almost half a decade. The journalists still attempting to break up the government even after two years of trying – they didn’t get the idea of compromise, because each and every one of them were their own editors now, and all hung their hat on the back of morbid curiosity – the skill of engaging readers, lost, due to sheer laziness – I was certain the days of great reporting had been killed off in the late ’80s with the advent of the scoop.

The world was going to pot and no one was stopping it.

My alarm buzzed loudly and I looked at the clock; 8 a.m., it told me. This gave me an hour to get ready and get to work. Somehow the three intervening hours had melted away, but during that time I had resolved to query Jacob about his weird and unmarked lever-arch folder.


It was busy. The results of the ongoing campaign were bearing fruit and it wasn’t until the mid-morning tea break that I was able to approach Jacob.

As I did, I was still in two minds; questioning one’s boss about something, that really wasn’t the done thing, at least it wasn’t the done thing in the army, by a long chalk.

“Mr Brizelthwaite?”

“Ah! Young Derek. What can I do you for today?”

I didn’t like this one bit. “I’m a bit confused.”

“Confused? By the workings of a post room? You surprise me, Derek. You’re an intelligent lad. What could possibly confuse you?”

“I could be mistaken, but I’m sure you’ve missed out something in my training.”

Jacob shook his head. “Lad, you’ve been here three months now. I’ve shown you everything. And you’re doing a great job. In fact, I can tell you this; your probationary period is over and you will be joining us fulltime. I pray this is acceptable?” As he spoke Mr Brizelthwaite arched his hands together, fingertips and thumbs touching.

That statement ended any thoughts I had as to querying him about his lever-arch folder. I needed the job and the money. “Thank you, Mr Brizelthwaite. Of course it’s acceptable. Thanks.”

The day continued and I was over the moon. And for a short while, the questions about the strange lever-arch folder slipped to the back of my mind.