“Dash it you’re right, the struggle is more important than shagging the arse off some Albanian tart every few minutes” he said.

“She’s from where?”

“Tirana, wait you don’t think she’s part of the opposition, do you? Is that why she’s always so willing and then asks me what my plans are when I am in an aroused state?”

“Almost certainly, she’s pumping you for information while you’re pumping her for, well, pleasure I suppose?”

“I have to get rid of her, don’t I?” said Stalky.

“Tuesday night’s run to Belgrade, she’d better be included otherwise, no more pigeons for you, you’re risking the whole operation.”

“Quite understand, so they’re closing in on us, aren’t they?”

“They are and they’re everywhere, bugging my car, in three different places, would you believe it?”

“The bastards, what did you do, Tomcat?”

“Found the transmitters and transferred them to a lorry heading for the Baltic, y’know.”

Tompkins indicated the apparatus he had used to achieve this, which he was carrying in his hand.

“Three places is a bit steep, isn’t it, though?”

“That’s the biggest insult, by far, so far in our little game,” replied Tompkins.

“Right, so the au pair is off limits now, and she’ll be in the next Belgrade assignment – how do I confirm that?”

“Picture in the lorry, without her mask, sent to my phone number will get you a pigeon by return of post, as it were. Anyway, I have to be off, as I have to meet The Man with a Plan at The Old House, and for pete’s sake don’t tell your au pair anything else.”

“All right, understood loud and clear.”

“Wait here until I have gone from this place,” boomed Tompkins, “I don’t want her knowing who I am, you do understand that Stalky?”