Inspired by the following Decamot items: drainpipe, bureau, abacus, frogman, mosque, Zephyr, blinkers, Wessex, couscous, judge
A sleek limousine with blacked out windows bearing diplomatic number plates pulled up at the entrance to London Zoo. It was 5.30 am on a chilly misty January morning.
The chauffeur stepped out, opened the nearside passenger door and saluted. The US Embassy having moved near to MI5, South of the Thames, Zach Bernstein wanted to familiarise himself with landmarks on the North. It was all part of his cover story. As newly appointed London bureau chief of the CIA, he needed to prove his fitness for the job. The London Central Mosque on Regents Park was his main target on each circuit.
The task in hand required acute concentration. As he made his way round of the Outer Circle for the second time, a frogman was practicing dives in the Boating Lake. On Hanover Terrace he noticed that even the drainpipes had royal crests engraved on them, although their monarchical ownership had long since switched Houses from Hanover to Saudi. He tried to judge the distance between the famous terrace and the Outer Circle road and wondered if the ancient Greeks in 500 BC could have made the calculation using an abacus? He even cast himself in the role of Zephyr, the Greek god of the west wind; boredom being the handmaiden of tedium and a dangerous state of mind for a professional spy.
Two mounted policemen, their horses sporting decorative leather blinkers almost caught him unawares as he approached the intersection with Park Square. He smiled to himself as he recalled his classical education; Zephyr was the father of two immortal horses, Xanthus and Balius; irrelevant for the task in hand, but useful for keeping his mind active. As he crossed Chester Road he was overtaken by an official car taking the Earl of Wessex to Aldwych for a diplomatic couscous luncheon at the Indian High Commission.
By arrangement, Zach Bernstein’s chauffeur collected him from the York Bridge entrance on Ulster Terrance behind Madame Tussauds at 7.15. This gave him enough time to return to the Embassy, have a shower and be ready for work before any of his staff arrived.
It was a routine he repeated throughout January, February and March until he was satisfied his plan could be successfully executed. It was vital that no one suspected his true motive. If all else failed he could claim diplomatic immunity; there were after all plenty of sympathetic embassies to choose from.
On Sunday 28th April 2019, Zach was interviewed live on BBC TV as he crossed Tower Bridge on target for his sub 3hr London Marathon, his sponsor, *Stonewall, proudly displayed on his official running vest. The image was broadcast to millions around the world.
Speaking to Garry Richardson of BBC TV who was running backwards towards the north side, a breathless Zach said he was proud to be out at such a fine and historic location.
That afternoon, President Trump defended his decision to dismiss his London CIA Bureau chief with a classic tweet “when it comes to National Security it is my duty as your President to put America First. There is no room for poofs or perverts in my administration”