“I do, Spiffy Wiffy. But first, I need to head back to my Jag and get something out of the boot. Goodnight.”

With that, Tompkins turned around and headed back along the same streets he’d run along earlier. His long, searching strides soon covered the distance to the Jaguar, where he removed a box of 350 masks from the boot. Tompkins tucked these under his arm and headed towards the centre of town, loping along in the style that had won him the distance races at his school sports days years ago.

He didn’t notice the weight of the box such was his upper-body strength. Tompkins headed down a side street and left a note on a garage door, indicating both where his Polish mechanic, Jan or Pavel, whatever his name was, could find his car and how soon Tomcat needed it back to him in perfect condition.

“Bish and bosh, Yuri,” said Tompkins under his breath, “I need the Jag back pronto, so I can run down to Bristol to see me pals down in the south-west, make it quick my vodka-drinking, sausage-eating, Russian-hating friend.”

Tomcat Tompkins arrived home and threw the box to the top of the stairs using three fingers from one hand, before heading into the kitchen.

“Filly…, Filly…, are you around – oh what’s this? A note from me wife stuck to the fridge with a magnet of King’s College, Cambridge, how patriotic – woof – anyway, what’s it say?”

“Gone for a jaunt with some whizzo pals to The Dark Side, see you on Friday, Tomcat, dinner is in The Dog as you weren’t here and he so likes Lobster stuffed with Bulgar Wheat. Don’t eat the cat. Love, Filly. PS 3 Pigeons have arrived.” Tompkins smiled at the hidden meanings in her words and wondered how many of the Bulgarians would appreciate being sent to France in this manner.

 

Bigger things were now afoot. Three important pigeons had arrived. This could only mean one thing, secret information waiting for him upstairs in the loft: Who, When, and Where.

 

After bounding up the stairs, Tompkins saw those three pigeons sitting on their perch feeding on sunflower seeds placed in a tray. Besides Tomcat, Tompkins’s other nickname was The Power Station. People thought he had this name because he gave off lots of energy.

 

That was not true though. He had this title because of his extensive connections and the pigeons proved this. The ‘Who’ pigeon came from MI5 and was from a ‘sympathiser’ to Tompkins’s cause. The message on the pigeon’s leg gave grid coordinates plus a page number in code. Tompkins looked in his Atlas and found the right place, St Petersburg in Russia.

“Well, bugger me, the old blighter is on his way, he’s coming here to stir things up,” muttered Tompkins to himself, before removing the message from the ‘When’ pigeon. This bird had flown from a large estate near Sevenoaks in Kent. The terse message read – ‘the 28th’ – four days’ time. The message on the ‘Where’ pigeon, flown from Central London, gave a website address. Tompkins typed the URL into his computer and found what he was looking for.

“That’s a posh way for a revolutionary to arrive,” mused Tompkins looking at the cruise ship’s itinerary. “It’s an expensive way – he might have come with me for half the price in my modest 100-foot yacht – The Whelk.”      

After drinking two tots of 30-year-old Macallan whisky from his finest Waterford Crystal decanter, Tomcat Tompkins retired to bed. Just after his head hit the pillow, he was dreaming of fishing in the lochs around Scourie in Assynt, pulling out the finest trout, and then throwing them back to give another sportsman a chance at wrestling with these most cunning of fish.