“Tomcat, daaaaarling,” said Miss Scarlett, rising from her seat at a corner table in the restaurant. She gave him a hug and, as usual, was most impressed at his bulging chest muscles, strong shoulders, and boulder-sized biceps. 5ft 6 inches tall she wore a mustard-coloured hat, green scarf, white dress, black shoes, and peacock broach.

“Woof,” said Tompkins, “that felt wonderful, Miss S. Can we talk freely here, won’t we be overheard?”

“I’ve booked all the tables around us for an hour, so we will be fine for 60 minutes, starting now. I’ll just give the waiter an extra big tip although the way he regards me, I think he wants to give me his big tip, but I am hors de combat after last night with Stalky.”

“Why what happened, he didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“No, but he was rough and he tried to bite me at one point, but I was throttling him so I suppose it should be no surprise.”

Miss Scarlett ordered her starter and a bottle of red wine for them to share. Tompkins ordered a main course as an appetizer.

“So what happened last night, Miss S, when did you arrive and how long was it before Stalky talked?”

“Well, Tomcat, he was rampant. I said I’d come for the recently advertised job as an au pair. He suggested that he would try me for size or words to that effect. We were having sex and I was asking him questions, which he didn’t answer at first, but when he flagged and I started to drive things, he told me about the gang, the HQ, and what our plans were for the next month.”

Miss Scarlett stopped to check her phone before continuing.

“By that time, I’d heard enough. I’d decided to muffle him for the common good of our pack of patriots. He almost bit me on the inner thigh, but I stopped him and soon he was limp between my legs. I left him where he was, Tomcat, and covered my trail, even changing all four tyres on the auto to confuse the boys in blue.”

“That’s my girl, Miss S, I am so proud of you and the work you do on behalf of the country.”

“Think nothing of it,” replied Miss S, smiling, “any gal would do the same for the good of England.”

“Well, woof to that,” replied Tompkins, “and woof again. You saying that makes me feel so damned patriotic and no mistake.”

“What I found out raises a few questions though, Tomcat,” continued Miss S, “given that Stalky spilled the beans so, who knows what he told his previous au pair? It’s possible the opposition know about you and our HQ as well as our Ops for the next month. What should we do?”

“Well, thanks for the concern, but I have seen no evidence to suggest that our operations are compromised at all. His previous au pair was from Albania, so perhaps she didn’t understand English too well.”

“Well, I would be careful, Tomcat, change things around, go through Folkestone for two weeks. Old Rumpy Short is in charge down there now, so I am sure he could ignore a minibus of East Europeans every so often?”

“Are you offering to persuade him, Miss S?” said Tompkins winking at her.

“I think you’ll find he wouldn’t be interested in me, Tomcat, he’s more interested in 300 pound girls wearing tutus and boxer shorts.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s something that’s well known in the clubs of south London, I just keep my ears open for information.”

“And other things too.”

“Yes, Tomcat, you are right, but, I am just doing my patriotic duty for the good of Old Blighty.”

At that moment the wine and first courses arrived. Both ordered a main course, in Tompkins’s case with three side dishes. They drank a toast to the health of England, Great Britain, and the UK, not forgetting Wales and Scotland, before starting their high-class French cuisine.

“Tomcat, how’s Filly getting on with her foreign coach trips over to the other side of The Channel?” asked Miss Scarlett.

“She’s enjoying them, Miss S, the only problem is making sure you don’t look conspicuous to the people on the other side, so she dresses up as a French person when she arrives, you know onions round the neck, baguette in hand, bottle of wine open on the dashboard.”

“That seems a bit stereotypical, Tomcat, are you sure she has to do that – couldn’t she drive off at high speed?”

“Well, it’s worked so far, she’s not been stopped. Despite Stalky Stark and his wandering hands and careless tongue, I wonder whether you’d be interested in shadowing a major contact of ours who’s arriving on our shores on 28th June at Harwich from St Petersburg in Russia.”

“Oh,” replied Miss S, “is this the Stalin 2.0 I’ve heard about from our pals?”

“That’s the one, although I should tell you that Stalin 2.0 is a girl.”

“What – and you’re hoping she’s a lesbian, are you?”

“No, no, nothing like that. I was hoping you could just be an impartial observer of proceedings and see what happens in Manchester, Leicester, and Boston when she meets her friends, sympathisers, and adherents in those three places.”

“Wait a minute, this makes something Stalky said rather important and I didn’t understand what he meant by it, but when he was in his brief, rampant phase last night, he said he’d have to make the most of our time together as he would soon leave for Parkeston Quay.”

“That’s Harwich, the old name for Harwich port,” said Tompkins, polishing off his first main course of the lunch, “but hold on, in our plans, he wasn’t going anywhere near Harwich. He was driving down to the house on the Sussex coast and meeting with our pals to discuss how the monitoring exercise on Stalin 2.0 was progressing.”

“Well, it looks like he had no intention of doing that, Tomcat, he was going to Harwich to either meet or monitor Stalin 2.0 in person, so it looks like he has been playing his own game for a while.”

“Damn and blast – this is all unravelling in front of our eyes. Right, this is pigeon time, Miss S, we have to know who’s on our side and who isn’t, don’t you think?”

“Absolutely, let’s get the boys together and sort things out.”

“Not yet, that’s what they will expect us to do, Miss S. I will sort my pigeons and ensure everyone knows the drill, hook, line, and sinker,” replied Tompkins holding up a giant paw to denote caution in matters.

Miss S looked disappointed and adjusted her hat – “Well, Tomcat, it’s your game, so we shall play things your way – I hope there aren’t more traitors in our midst in the same mould as Stalky Stark. What did the police do with the body of the Albanian au pair, do you know?”

“Yes, I got a pigeon about that this morning from my contact in Sussex – the au pair’s in the morgue in Chichester, awaiting identification, though I am not sure which person will do that, as her family is based in Tirana and can’t come over here without a visa. They also found an East European unconscious between her legs and he will be released this morning without charge. He claims he was knocked unconscious by an English football hooligan.”