Bogol (17)

Episode 17 (of 18)

Why was I always asleep in the dark when trouble came to the door?

Dad returned from his ‘Grand Tour’ after nearly two years and seemed to slip straight back into his previous life. He spent most of his time ‘in the forest’ as he referred to his home, but was a regular visitor to The Close. He no longer stayed overnight, the spare room had been requisitioned by two of our children, but I did visit him more often at his. He was happy, there was no mistaking it. He had interesting work, so he told me, sorting and processing all the material he had gathered and produced whilst he was away. I knew better than to ask him what he was working on – or for whom.

His story becomes more fragmented from here; some documents, many scribbled notes and a few first draft sections. His writing method seems to have been to draft short pieces covering specific events and then add the contextual and link stuff later. The latter discipline seems to have eluded him in later years – or he simply ran out of time.

So I have done my best to string it together for the following five years, adding more of my own observations and memories to try and make it a cohesive tale.

 In retrospect I remember that he did show a particular interest in the developing news from Eastern Europe. As the revolutions followed one another through Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania he became increasingly pre-occupied and seemingly anxious. When the Berlin Wall came down he started to talk about needing to find somewhere else to live – but he never did, he never moved.

In the ‘treasure box’ was what was obviously a hastily scrawled note, still in its envelope addressed to Dad at the forest:

Terrible news Bo

Have been recalled to Moscow – fly out tonight.

No time to see you – can’t trust the phone.

I love you

Светлана x

This sheds some light on Dad becoming a virtual recluse in the forest over the following year. I was worried for him, without having a clue what was going on. He was always pleased to see me when I visited but he stopped travelling to us. Then it all changed again and the following, almost complete draft, seems to cover what must have triggered this.

— x —

Why was I always asleep in the dark when trouble came to the door?

The vehicle pulled up in the yard with a scrunch of churned gravel. Its lights shone directly at my front door and by the time I had got to it and opened it (in my pyjamas of course) a tall dark figure stood silhouetted in their glare.

‘Boryslav Golinski’

I won’t add the question mark the statement might have warranted. It wasn’t a question. The figure knew exactly who I was and I have to confess my knees started knocking together as I nodded.

‘May I’. This wasn’t a question either.

— x —

‘Well Bogol, what have we been getting up to? ……. Oh sorry ….. my warrant card.’

I read the name as the card flashed passed my eyes – Geoffrey Martin MI6.


‘I er …… well ….’ Where was I supposed to start? Or not start? Could I start a bit … and then stop? I must have been employing my trusty inane grin …

‘Bogol this not funny!’

‘No …. No …. Sorry …. I … er,’ How much did they know?

Fortunately Geoffrey made a little mistake, ‘We know you were approached by the Soviets …. short of money I suspect when you lost your pension appeal’, he laughed, ‘for bringing the service into disrepute,’ he laughed again, ‘what are they going to call this?’

I garnered what resolve I still had and … well had a go. ‘I just played them along …. gave them lots of useless stuff, stuff they already knew  …… you know.’

‘Yes I know ……..’ His eyes narrowed (I think that’s what writers say when it feels as though someone is looking right through you) ‘you must have had fun all those years camped by The Solent.’

‘It was all nonsense, just like the review of the Solway Firth.’

‘Just a lot longer.’

I grinned, ‘I hope it wasted a lot of their time.’

‘Mmmmm ….. that seems to be your forte.’

I grimaced. I guess that was a true reflection – and admittedly a handy one in these particular circumstances, but not something any self regarding chap could concede without some degree of dismay.

‘Has there been any contact since November?’

‘No …….. nothing.’

‘Looks like you might be struggling for money.’ He looked around the decidedly shabby front sitting room.

Please don’t look at the rest of the place…. Please don’t look …

‘Well you may be able to redeem yourself Bogol.’


‘Work for us instead.’

‘Work for you ……’ repeating stuff was probably better than the inane grin approach but I suspected it had a short shelf life …

‘C’mon you’ve watched the films … we’ll turn you ….’

‘Turn me …… ?’

‘Become a double agent!’

‘A double ……’ I had a sense that all this was not going to go away.

‘We pay well, probably …..’ he gave another disdainful look round the room, ‘better than a failed state anyway.’ A white envelope was produced, ‘here’s some to be going on with.’

‘What do you want me to do?’

‘Nothing …. well not yet – just wait until they contact you and then tell us. We’ll work it out from there. My contact details and code words are on the envelope. Don’t use your phone, they’ll have it tapped’

‘Oh …… OK ….. er … thank you,’ I took the proffered envelope.’

‘All used £20 notes, nothing traceable, I’ll bring more next time.’

‘Yes …. Well …..’

‘What did you make of Svetlana?’

Again his tradecraft let him down, it’s on the small details that situations often turn and he wasn’t paying close attention. He was rising to leave and therefore missed the blush that started heading northwards from my neck.

‘Not much, only met her a few times ……… a bit fierce I suppose.’

‘No don’t suppose she would have had much time for you,’ he laughed as he was walking to the door, then, seemingly talking to himself, ‘Major Svetlana Preobrazhensky, Head of KGB Military Intelligence Western Europe, I wonder where she is now.’


Bogol (16)


Bogol (18)


  1. Ian Ridley

    Hmm, Bogol changing sides may not go down too well with Svet… unless…?
    Great stuff.

  2. Bryan

    Unlessly so!

    ‘Changing sides’ suggests rather a lot of agency for someone who just seems to blunder from one thing to the next ….. and as for Svet’s view on all this ……….

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