As he was early, Tompkins showered and changed. He checked for pigeons and replied to a dozen messages. He then sent his own pigeon ‘Houdini’ to Miss Scarlett asking for a reply within two days, detailing her findings in the matter of Stalky Stark.

Tompkins stormed round to The Glitz Bar and ordered a cocktail before bounding over to the table where his friend, Dr Black, was reading The Times.

“Hello, Doc” said Tompkins, “how’s it hanging today?”

Dr Black, whose real name was Trevor Evans-Jones, smiled at the exuberance of his friend, whom he’d known since Varsity days. Dr Black was 6 feet tall with brown hair and an easygoing nature. He exerted a calming influence on those around him.

“Well, Tomcat, you ask the right coded question as usual – you must have a phenomenal memory to keep all those codes in your head all the time. Yes, the man I believe you refer to as Stalin 2.0 is coming here and will arrive at the end of this month – he will visit places up north such as Boston, Leicester, and Manchester. Boston is interesting because they voted for Brexit and yet, and yet, the blighters are recruiting Poles and the like to help them with their cause.”

“Talk about using people for your own ends,” said Tompkins, “I quite admire them for that, y’know. Communists in Boston, well who’d of thought it? That’s where the Pilgrim Fathers came from or started their journey I believe.”

“Clever subterfuge if you ask me,” replied Dr Black, sipping his whisky. Tompkins quaffed his cocktail and signalled ‘Tufty’ Stevens, the barman, that he’d like another.

“Any idea in which order he will visiting these places?” asked Tompkins.

“He will go to Manchester first, then Leicester, finishing at Boston where his allies will send him back to Russia.”

“Good to know,” replied Tompkins, putting up an affirmative thumb before doing a handstand on the table. Concentration was not one of his strongpoints and he knew it, but dammit he couldn’t stop himself, as the gym mistress at school had found during her stretching class.

“There we go the great Tomcat, the athlete,” said Dr Black about Tompkins’s prowess.

“Just having a bit of a stretch, Doc,” said Tompkins, brushing his straw locks back into place once he’d come right side up again, “so where were we, oh yes, our friend Stalin 2.0 is leaving from Boston. I have an uncomfortable feeling we are collecting in Boston around the time he’s there.”

“She’s there, Tomcat, I have it on good authority Stalin 2.0 is a she.”

“Bish and bosh,” said Tompkins banging the table with his fist, causing Dr Black’s whisky to head off towards the ceiling. The doctor caught it on the way down.

“You’re surprised, Tomcat?” said Dr Black.

“Well, yes, rather, I was expecting long overcoat, moustache, brooding eyebrows, hooked nose, emotionless eyes, not good skin, you know the sort of thing.”

“That might still be the case, apart from the ‘tache, although you can never be certain in some families.”

“Tell me about it,” replied Tompkins,”the nanny’s mama had a moustache and I was never interested in her. Still you wonder sometimes, what it would have been like…, anyway I digress, I digress. We must be careful in Boston, that we take no females on our trip overseas. That could cause a few headaches? We don’t want to export Stalin 2.0 by mistake.”