The office is currently being refurbished, I can’t say that I am too pleased about it, but at least they aren’t considering the sub-basement, I don’t think it would be possible to print enough forms for the clearance required to have contractors down there.
In light of the terror attacks on the Palace of Westminster, the elected great and good, have in their wisdom, instructed all public institutions to upgrade their security, apparently this also includes us. There are times when the service has to appear to be open and transparent and play along with the rest of folks, apparently this is one of those times. We have been told that, in the interests of full disclosure, we should use this opportunity to re-design the entrance to be more inviting and less threatening. Openness, disclosure, politicians love those terms, they keep telling us they go down well with the public. We’d really rather they minded their own business, politicians that is. The public have always been fine with the Secret Service having secrets but if they will keep on electing these halfwits what can we do.
In order to comply with our pay masters and in the interests of common-sense, a compromise has been reached. We are for all intent and purpose rearranging the outlay of the office in order to confuse any intruder. There is some sound science behind this, casinos use a similar principle, once a punter enters, they aren’t too keen to make it easy for them to leave. I am currently sitting down with one of the appointed contractors explaining things as we see them, and to ask for a few extras we’d like included.
“We’ll need new blast-walls and glass at the entrance and the lobby as open as possible.”
In response to my request the contractor smiles the patronising smile all sales people have.
“I’d recommend putting in artificial walls, to reduce open spaces.”
“Well, I’d recommend you didn’t, our team feels that it reduces their chances…”
“Of an arrest? In the case of a breach? You needn’t worry, our company has been doing this type of renovation for years.”
“…. of a kill shot..”
I really wish they would fully brief people before they come and advise us. I try to explain things simply.
“Its highly unlikely that any terrorist threat would make it down to this level, let’s just say, it would be an interesting way to commit suicide.”
“We have six S.A.S troopers on site at all times, three up top, 2 seconds away from the entrance and lifts, and three more on the lower levels. At anyone time there are…..numerous field agents from M.I.5 and 6 working on this floor, all carrying personal sidearms.”
I let him think about this before continuing.
“You see they’d have to get past the visible police presence outside, blast their way through the front door, fight their way passed three troopers before descending in a controlled lift, to a floor guarded by three more of Herefords finest, and then into a room full of armed agents, as I said, that would be interesting.”
“Do you carry a sidearm ?”
“No, I am what’s called a ferret, it’s my job to oversee the admin side of things and look after some of the techs, ferret around so to speak. If I go out and need an escort, I take a trooper.”
“So there are no other security concerns on this level?”
“Before I answer fully I’d need to see your clearance. There’s the armoury one floor below, but we don’t have to worry about that.”
“ The armoury could be a target.”
“Our armoury…..don’t think so….the techs hardly need an excuse to get their toys out…..it’s where they keep what they call the big stuff……as in, they convert military weapons for….lets say..…vehicles. God knows how many rocket launchers they have, they love those, and belt fed machine guns, more than you can shake a stick at. They really do like things that go bang.
“…well….yes.. I suppose they would.”
“You should see the stuff we make them hand over.”
“Health and safety risk?”
“No, they were making the S.A.S a little nervous.
My new friend pales, takes a breath, composes himself before producing colour charts.
“Would you like coloured glass for the lobby? Perhaps green?”
“Why not…..lets make the place inviting.”