This novel is something a little different for me. It is a satire set in the UK at the present moment. There are striking parallels between these days and the 1930s. There’s a lot of racist people around who are crawling out of the woodwork as they have been encouraged by the implications of the Brexit vote.

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“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. Now I have a question for you, 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 Scarlett, “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.”