Authors: James Craig
has worked in London as a journalist and consultant for over thirty years. He lives in central London with his family.
The Inspector Carlyle series
Never Apologise, Never Explain
Buckingham Palace Blues
Constable & Robinson Ltd.
55–56 Russell Square
London WC1B 4HP
First published in the UK by C&R Crime,
an imprint of Constable & Robinson Ltd., 2012
Copyright © James Craig, 2012
The right of James Craig to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All rights reserved. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
A copy of the British Library Cataloguing in
Publication Data is available from the British Library
ISBN: 978-1-47210-651-3 (ebook)
This is the first short story featuring London policeman John Carlyle. It follows the publication of three full-length Carlyle novels,
London Calling; Never Apologise, Never Explain;
Buckingham Palace Blues.
will appear soon.
The Enemy Within
recounts one of Carlyle’s early experiences as a young copper and fills in some of the backstory that is touched on in
It is set during the bitter mineworkers’ dispute of the 1980s, a formative political experience for anyone of my age. I would like to thank Michael Doggart for his support in getting it done, along with Krystyna Green, Rob Nichols and all of the team at Constable, not least the real Martin Palmer, who, as far as I know, never worked for MI5.
My greatest thanks go to the deadly duo, Catherine and Cate. This story is for them.
The enemy within is just as dangerous to our liberty . . . It is a battle that we must win.
They were skilled and courageous men who had built the prosperity of Britain. They were treated like criminals . . .
Clowne, South Yorkshire, June 1984
‘That would be lovely, thank you.’
It was nice to have company, whatever the circumstances. Beatrice Slater poured a cup of Earl Grey into one of her best bone china tea cups and handed it to the young man perched nervously on the edge of her sofa.
‘Would you like some milk and sugar?’
‘Black is fine, thank you.’ Martin Palmer patted his already expansive waistline and smiled sadly. ‘My mother has had me on a strict diet for almost a month.’ He made a face. ‘I’m supposed to cut out the dairy products wherever possible and have lots of green vegetables.’
‘She thinks I need to lose almost four stone.’
‘Gosh, that’s a lot, isn’t it?’
Palmer stared morosely into his tea. ‘What she doesn’t understand is that I’m big-boned, just like my Dad.’
‘It’s an ambitious target,’ Beatrice agreed. ‘How are you doing, so far?’
Martin grinned sheepishly. ‘Depending on which scales I use, I’ve either lost one pound or gained two.’
‘I know,’ the boy groaned. ‘That’s why the diet is supposed to run until Christmas.’
‘Oh dear,’ the old lady said, with feeling. ‘What a shame.’
‘Yes,’ the young man looked down at his belly sorrowfully, as if unable to understand quite how it had come to be there, ‘it’s terrible.’
‘Christmas . . .’ Beatrice mused, conscious of the sunlight streaming into the conservatory. Today was just about the first nice day of the year, so far. Summer remained little more than a hopeful smudge on the horizon. ‘That’s rather a long way off, isn’t it?’
‘Quite a way, yes,’ Martin agreed, eyeing the plate of Mr Kipling French Fancies that his host had unthinkingly placed on the table between them.
‘I’m sure that one won’t hurt, dear,’ Beatrice said, following his gaze. ‘After all, they are rather small.’
A glimmer of hope appeared in the boy’s eyes. ‘Yes.’
‘And there’s still plenty of time.’
Martin looked at her blankly.
‘For the diet, I mean.’ Pouring a cup of tea for herself, Beatrice added a dash of milk, stirring the mixture with a teaspoon.
‘Yes, of course. Well, you’re quite right.’ Placing his cup carefully on the coffee table, the young fellow reached over and grabbed a cake. ‘The pink ones are my favourite,’ he explained, ‘along with the chocolate ones.’
‘Have one of each,’ Beatrice smiled, taking a sip of her tea. ‘What your mum doesn’t know won’t hurt her.’
‘I’m not so fond of the yellow ones,’ he reflected, as the entire cake disappeared into his maw, ‘but I’ll eat them if that’s all that’s left.’
Finishing his tea, Martin placed his cup and saucer carefully back on the tray and sat back on the sofa, wondering about the wisdom of eating that fourth French Fancy. Ah well, he thought, it’s too late to worry about that now. What was it that Shakespeare said? What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief. It was something like that, anyway. Not for the first time, he wondered whether he should have kept on with his English studies. He could have become a teacher, or maybe found a nice job in publishing. That would have been ideal: long lunches and home before five. Something more suited to his temperament than his current line of employ.
Looking round the room, he had to admit that the old girl had a very nice place. Her redbrick Victorian villa was at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, in a small village half an hour from the motorway. After travelling up from London, he’d had some trouble finding the place, having to ask directions twice. On both occasions, the people he spoke to knew exactly who Beatrice Slater was; the old girl was clearly something of a local celebrity, which was rather disconcerting, given what he had to do.
The house itself was too big for her on her own but the atmosphere was both comfortable and relaxed. It reminded Martin of home. Or at least, home when he was a kid. These days, things were different. He knew that his parents were keen to see the back of him, particularly now that he had a job, but Martin didn’t see the point of leaving the spacious family home in Finchley for the kind of flea-ridden bedsit he would be able to afford on his paltry salary as an entry-level intelligence analyst.
Not wanting to think about imminent homelessness, he reached over and sniffed the bouquet of white roses that had been placed in a vase next to the sofa. ‘Aah!’ He turned to Beatrice and smiled. ‘They’re lovely.’
‘Thank you,’ the old lady beamed, ‘you’re very kind.’
‘Not at all; I like flowers. These are very nice indeed.’
‘I grow them myself.’ She gestured towards the garden which stretched from the back of the house for maybe a hundred yards before giving on to farmers’ fields. ‘I’ve been a member of the Amateur Rose Breeders’ Association for more than fifty years now.’ Martin nodded. Beatrice guessed he must be in his early twenties, but sitting on her sofa, with his tie at half-mast and crumbs around his mouth, he looked about twelve.
A boy sent to do a man’s job.
‘My mum likes her garden, too, although ours is a lot smaller than yours.’
‘Yorkshire is famous for its roses,’ Beatrice explained. ‘The white rose of York dates back to the first Duke of York in the fourteenth century.’
‘Yes,’ Martin nodded. History wasn’t his strong point and he was already feeling hungry again. There was one French fancy left on the plate, a yellow one. Not ideal, but better than nothing. He couldn’t grab it, could he?
Beatrice pointed to the vase. ‘Those ones are called Margaret Thatcher.’
The boy frowned. ‘After the prime minister?’
His eyes narrowed as his brain tried to compute this latest piece of information. ‘But I thought you hated her?’
Beatrice placed her cup on the table and gave the young man a steely glare. ‘“Hate” is a very strong word, Mr Palmer,’ she said primly, ‘particularly when you get to my age.’ She was conscious that she was slipping into schoolteacher mode, going back to the days when she tried to instil some interest in mathematics amongst the flotsam and jetsam passing through the third year in King Ecgbert’s school in Sheffield. It wasn’t necessarily her most friendly demeanour, but at least this lesson would be short. ‘I don’t hate Mrs Thatcher. Apart from anything else, I have never met the lady. But I don’t particularly like some of the things that she says and I don’t like some of the things that she does.’
‘Ye-es . . .’ Settling in for a long lecture, her guest kept his eyes firmly on the last cake on the plate.
‘I look at all the conflict and violence taking place right now and I wonder just why it is taking place.’
‘And I wonder if we had more intelligent, thoughtful political leaders we might not be able to avoid it. All this shameful nonsense about the miners being “the enemy within”, it is crass and unhelpful, the language of a woman spoiling for a fight.’ On a roll now, conscious of her elevated heart rate, she glared at young master Palmer, ‘and using useful lackeys like you to do her bidding.’
‘I am sure you will disagree with me. Indeed, you are paid to do so. But the strikers are just normal people with families to support. They are the exactly the same as you and me.’
Speak for yourself, grandma, Palmer mused.
‘It seems incredible to me that such a basic truth can threaten the thought police so much.’
Palmer blushed. ‘I’m hardly the thought police, Mrs Slater.’
‘So why are you here then?’ she shot back. ‘What have I done that demands this visit to try and shut me up?’
Palmer shifted uneasily in his seat. ‘No one is trying to shut you up.’
‘I’m glad to hear it,’ Slater said gently. The boy clearly wasn’t up to much in the debating stakes. ‘As long as I stay within the law, I am allowed to express my opinions. Is that not right?’
Tearing his eyes from Mr Kipling’s bounty, the young man looked up at his host, nodding furiously. ‘Of course,’ he stammered.
A sly smile drifted across her face. ‘You believe in free speech, don’t you?’
‘So, why, precisely, have your masters in the security services sent you up here to try and threaten me?’
A loud extended fart came from the prostrate body in the nearby bed. Police constable John Carlyle – badge number V253 – turned away, hoping that the smell would not reach him.
‘Who’d have thought it?’
‘Huh?’ Irritated by yet another interruption, Carlyle looked up from his copy of the
New Musical Express
and scowled. He had just come off a fourteen-hour shift, standing around on a patch of waste ground just up the road in South Yorkshire, doing fuck all other than eyeballing a bunch of striking miners. All he wanted to do now was read his newspaper, get some food and have a kip.