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TheButterflyComposer

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So, the comparison with the veneration of the office of POTUS is fascinating. The reality is often so far removed from the ideal…
The myth of the best man for the job, not even letting himself be called 'his excellency' but Mr. President, working at the desk made of a broken up slavery ship etc etc

Of course he lives in a bright white plantation house built by slaves, riddled with bullet holes, makes 10x the amount the average American makes in a year and since 2003, has practically unlimited power.

Pretty much the opposite of the royal family, come to think.

...

MI5 seems to cultivate an uncool vibe on purpose, which makes sense given their job is to spy on their own citizens. I never understood why the FBI and NSA tried to make themselves out to be super cool all knowing spy agencies to the American public when their job description is spy on the Americans public.
 

Specialist290

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MI5 seems to cultivate an uncool vibe on purpose, which makes sense given their job is to spy on their own citizens. I never understood why the FBI and NSA tried to make themselves out to be super cool all knowing spy agencies to the American public when their job description is spy on the Americans public.
To be somewhat fair, when it was first founded, the NSA's official line was that it didn't actually exist -- to the point that people "in the know" used to call it "No Such Agency."

I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that the CIA are pretty much seen as the go-to "bad boys" of the intelligence committee due to their previous track record, and the FBI is at least ostensibly a law enforcement agency, which the American public seems to have love-hate relationships with in general.

----

As for the update itself, I definitely picked up on a hint of John le Carre in there. I remember enjoying the film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a long time ago -- one of these days I should actually track down the book.
 

DensleyBlair

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I forgot to say this before, but this update struck me as something right out of an Ealing comedy. I could see a young Alec Guinness playing our man in the field as he capers about Putney! :D
 

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The locations in London are / were as described, and in the absence of a more compelling occasion I came up with a football match, from which the rest of the story and locations blossomed. If it feels narrow and suburban then good, I didn’t want casinos and dinner dress and anything else (apart from the Le Carre/Fleming touch with the club porter) from the stories.
Well it was a fantastic and thrilling episode. I quite enjoyed how you portrayed the chase, I actually became rather anxious while reading it.

MI5 seems to cultivate an uncool vibe on purpose, which makes sense given their job is to spy on their own citizens. I never understood why the FBI and NSA tried to make themselves out to be super cool all knowing spy agencies to the American public when their job description is spy on the Americans public.
I don't really know why the NSA is portrayed as cool (other than that the intelligence agencies are all benefiting from the culture-generating class' war on the Orange Man), but the FBI has always marketed itself as less "the Secret Police" (which it is) and more as the "Ultra-Police," a posture that I think is helped by America's tradition of local policing, which makes it much easier for the FBI to only investigate the cool cases and not get caught up in some of the more embarrassing incidents that local police get themselves into (Mark Fuhrman, etc.)

The German secret service seems suspiciously competent at the moment!
My favorite conspiracy theory I've ever invented is the one where Enigma was never actually cracked, Himmler was actually an Allied agent and that's why they whacked him.

I forgot to say this before, but this update struck me as something right out of an Ealing comedy. I could see a young Alec Guinness playing our man in the field as he capers about Putney! :D
That would rather undermine the tension, though.
 
Last edited:

TheButterflyComposer

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I don't really know why the NSA is portrayed as cool (other than that the intelligence agencies are all benefiting from the culture-generating class' war on the Orange Man), but the FBI has always marketed itself as less "the Secret Police" (which it is) and more as the "Ultra-Police," a posture that I think is helped by America's tradition of local policing, which makes it much easier for the FBI to only investigate the cool cases and not get caught up in some of the more embarrassing incidents that local police get themselves into (Mark Fuhrman, etc.)
To be fair to the americans, everyone in the Anglo-sphere loves spies. Super spies, thriller spies, etc etc. Curiously, the best spy books tend to be grim reading, dark as fuck and often fairly realistic when it comes to individual 'agents'. Spying takes a long time and teamwork. When you call for one person, you're calling for an assassination, which is what James Bond is. Pretty much every famous spy in fiction is actually a government hitman of sorts.

Strange how that ended up being the most popular and visible aspect of intelligence services both in fiction and reality.
 

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To be fair to the americans, everyone in the Anglo-sphere loves spies. Super spies, thriller spies, etc etc. Curiously, the best spy books tend to be grim reading, dark as fuck and often fairly realistic when it comes to individual 'agents'. Spying takes a long time and teamwork. When you call for one person, you're calling for an assassination, which is what James Bond is. Pretty much every famous spy in fiction is actually a government hitman of sorts.

Strange how that ended up being the most popular and visible aspect of intelligence services both in fiction and reality.
I mean, it's the most interesting part of spying, no? It would take a People versus O.J. Simpson level production to make the actual business that comprises 90% of tradecraft into something watchable. So much of intelligence work is just bureaucrats sitting in a room looking at photographs or reading documents, then leaving work at 4:30 to go get their kids from soccer practice.

Much easier to toss someone into a pit of genetically engineered death orangutans and say something like "go bananas."
 

Bullfilter

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Well it was a fantastic and thrilling episode. I quite enjoyed how you portrayed the chase, I actually became rather anxious while reading it.
Same here! Good to see some game event driven intel action derived from the new DLC. It suits the period well, given things weren’t quite as ‘developed’ as they are now. Still a bit of amateurish and gentlemanly goings on in the British services, especially at the top (Stewart Menzies at MI6, for example).
 

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So, GRIPE WITH THE GAME ALERT…

MI6, MI5 (or for that matter, MIs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 (no 13, presumably for some mad superstition?), 15, 16, 17) WERE ALREADY SET UP BEFORE 1936. I loathe the fact that I have to build an intelligence agency.
To be technically correct (which as we all know is the best kind of correct) we only got as far as MI10 by the end of WW1 and a few of them got shut down when the war ended. They then got recreated with different roles for the second round at various points.

But of course your point still stands, MI5 and MI6 were well established at this point and it is a stupid game play mechanic to force countries that already had spy agencies to build them. :)

@Bullfilter : It’s impossible to write in this period and not think of Wodehouse.
This is also true and all the better for it.

The myth of the best man for the job, not even letting himself be called 'his excellency' but Mr. President, working at the desk made of a broken up slavery ship etc etc

Of course he lives in a bright white plantation house built by slaves,
Which is why the British very kindly burnt it, and the rest of Washington, to the ground in 1814. It gave them a chance to rebuild the White House using a less shameful workforce, alas I believe they probably failed to take this generous opportunity.

Luckily the US did the rebuild on the cheap (losing the War of 1812 had been expensive) and then failed to maintain the new building properly, so the entire interior collapsed in the 50s, leaving only the facade as in any way 'original'. Given that facade work was skilled and highly paid it is unlikely any slaves were trusted to work on it, so the Presidents have at last escaped living in a house built by slaves. Seems a bit of faff though, might it have been easier just to abolish slavery and gets some proper builders in the first time?
 

TheButterflyComposer

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It gave them a chance to rebuild the White House using a less shameful workforce, alas I believe they probably failed to take this generous opportunity.
Seems unlikely, given most of the rest of the city was also built by slaves. Like the Capitol building and the Washington memorial (impressive engineering that it is). They also rebuilt the White House in 1812 and then maintained it for many years. Presidents had a habit of bringing their own slaves in to help out too.

Funnily enough, the statue of freedom on top of the Capitol building was started by a slave but by the time it was done he was a Freedman because of the emancipation proclamation. Dodged a bullet there.

If course if we expand 'built' by slaves to mean built by slavery, then quite a lot of stuff was built by slaves across the world. Depressing stuff.
 

Le Jones

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upload_2020-4-18_21-29-27.png


Chapter 6, Broadcasting House, London, 1 March 1936

upload_2020-4-18_21-36-47.png


The car swept up to the front, the King noting the crowds cheering; they bowed, deferentially, when he alighted. He shook a few hands (earning a raised eyebrow from his equerry) and walked briskly up the steps.

Waiting for him, just inside the building, and staring impassively at the King with a lugubrious look, was the Director General of the BBC, Sir John Reith. The King felt his usual distaste for this dour, canting Scotsman, and offered a very tight smile.

upload_2020-4-18_21-30-17.png


“Your Majesty,” Reith said, and the King was baffled by Reith’s ability to mix disapproval with reverence.

“Sir John,” the King said flatly, and decided to try and outmanoeuvre Reith; he offered him his hand. The towering Scot looked momentarily lost, and then recovered to shake the King’s hand.

“You’re in studio Four B today, Sir, it’s a small studio, one of the news studios. Wells Coates designed it”.

The King nodded, he had met Wells Coates, a Canadian architect, and admired his work. That was a good move by Reith, the King conceded.

Another figure seemed to half emerge from behind the tall Reith. “Your Majesty,” Lord Eustace Percy, Minister without Portfolio in Baldwin’s Cabinet, greeted him. “It is good to see you, Sir,” he said with real warmth.

“And it is good to see you Eustace,” the King said informally, shooting a sour look at Reith. “Are you my minder for today?”

Percy laughed, and also gave a throwaway look to Reith. “A King’s first broadcast to his people is an important matter of State,” Percy said, slightly reverentially. “There was a huge fuss at Cabinet and I volunteered; Ramsay MacDonald refused to go anywhere near this place and I didn’t think that you would want Halifax in support!”

The King rolled his eyes at that idea as they followed Reith up a bright, very modern stairwell to a long corridor (this was darker). The King took his speech from an aide.

“It is the usual procedure”, Reith said to both of them, emotionlessly. “You’ll see, when you go in…” the King’s mind wandered as Reith, carefully, described the process of the broadcast. He found Reith, and his rather Victorian principles, so suffocating. Wallis, he knew, would be at Belvedere listening rapt to his every word. He feared the inevitable criticism from her that he failed, in some way. The King was suddenly aware of Percy staring at him.

upload_2020-4-18_21-31-11.png


“Sorry, Eustace, I am not good company.” He realised that Reith was also staring at him. “I, er, was focussing on my speech.”

“An admirable notion, Sir,” Reith said with a look of grave disappointment as he rolled his ‘r’s. They were briefly introduced to the BBC engineers and technicians. Finally, settled into the studio, Percy retired with a simple nod. Reith lingered.

“I shall see you, no doubt, when I am finished?”

“Depend upon it, Sir,” Reith said heavily, gravely.

There was a pause, he sipped on his water, and it was time to speak.

“It has been an ancient tradition,” he began, his voice an odd mix of thin and slightly gravelly, “of the British Monarchy, that the new Sovereign should send a written message to his peoples”. As ever the rhythm was slightly odd, slightly contrived. No one really speaks like this, he thought with irritation. “Science, has made it possible, for me, to make that written message more personal, and to speak to you all, over the radio. Queen Mary, my family, and myself, have been greatly helped by the worldwide tributes of genuine sorrow, which we have received from every side.” He frowned at that line, ‘every side’. He just about kept the pace. “It is wonderful for us, to know, how universally my father’s great qualities,” he paused slightly here, his own swirling emotions catching up with him, “have been appreciated and valued. It is no mere form of speech to say”, he said heavily, “that he reigned in the hearts of his people.”

He was comfortable now, the ta-da ta-da ta-da rhythm settled. “And it was his happiness to know, before he died, that his long years of unstinting service, were rewarded with a devotion and an affection so perfectly expressed in the jubilee demonstrations, of last year. It now falls upon me to succeed him, and to carry on his work.”

The King looked down at his speech and, with a wry smile, decided that he would speak from the heart; it would also ‘rattle’ Reith sufficiently. “I am better known to most of you as the Prince of Wales; as a man who, during the war and since, has had the opportunity of getting to know the people of nearly every country of the world, under all conditions and circumstances. And, although I now speak to you as the King, I am still that same man who has had that experience and whose constant effort it will be to continue to promote the well-being of his fellow men”.

He smiled at the knowledge that those with copies of the speech would be searching for those lines and went back to script for the closing. “May the future, bring peace, and understanding, throughout the world.” There was an oddly placed pause, as he took a breath. “Prosperity, and happiness to British people, and may we be worthy, of the heritage which is ours.” He sat silently, waiting.

There was a gentle knock at the door and Percy, followed by Reith, entered gingerly. Percy had a look of searching confusion, Reith just glowered. “Your Majesty,” Percy said hesitantly, “did you improvise that bit about wellbeing and your fellow man?”

Percy knew that he must have done, the King realised, he wasn’t that stupid, and smiled. “This speech lacked my stamp on it, Eustace,” he said chidingly, “I wanted to say something, from the heart.”

Reith rolled his eyes but thought better of saying anything. Percy smiled knowingly. “I had wondered what I would have to discuss with Baldwin and Chamberlain,” Percy said with wry amusement, clearly not annoyed with his sovereign, “well now I know.”

“Will there be trouble, with Baldwin?”

“I’m not sure, it’s not as if Your Majesty declared for a Soviet here in London,” Percy said in an open enough manner. “Neville and John Simon can be the mother hens, if they don’t cluck then Baldwin won’t. I’m not sure that you weren’t correct,” Percy said, in his muddled way, “there is more to be done for the people.”

The King made the ‘knowing look’ that Percy had seen him make before when dealing with someone that he believed to be sympathetic. “Have they decided who is going to be sent to me?”

Percy paused, saw the look of expectant waiting on the King, and complied. “Not yet,” he said, hesitantly.

I was thinking,” the King said carefully, “of approaching someone myself.” He looked in careful scrutiny for a reaction. “Would that be acceptable to Baldwin?”

“I’m not sure, Sir, I will ask.”

They were at the entrance; Reith wordlessly bowed, while Percy coupled his with a broad smile. “As ever, Your Majesty, an honour and a pleasure.”

“And for me too, Eustace,” the King said, nodding at Reith as an afterthought.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

GAME NOTES

A really gentle update, but one that I wanted to get in before more Earth-shattering events take over.

Picture Edward VIII in your mind and at some point within the first few minutes the famous abdication speech will play in your head; the bit that everyone remembers is the “as I would wish to do” with the odd emphasis. The contrast between that last speech as King as this little-known first speech is fascinating, he doesn’t sound as exhausted as he would later in the year. Here, you can tell that the King is reading – unlike the Dec 1936 abdication speech he doesn’t particularly invested into what he is saying. There are a couple of odd pauses, and the rhythm seems mad to our modern ears, but, for 1936, it was quite polished. The bit about a cheeky diversion is true, he did add the bit about promoting the well-being of his fellow man which raised a couple of eyebrows in Westminster (although it would appear that nothing was done by Baldwin or his ministers). Wallis Simpson, listening at Fort Belvedere, was delighted, and wrote to her friends about how well he had done – she was aware of the diversion so there is a possibility that they had discussed it beforehand.

Not much has been made of the earlier speech, all the attention now is focussed on the later crisis. What attention is given seems to portray this speech merely as a ‘warning unheeded’, in that the King was wayward and here was an opportunity, missed, to slap him down. I prefer to see it as the King testing his public persona a bit, testing out a theme, or a line, that he might want to explore later in his reign.

Reith and Percy are real, it is not documented that the DG was at Broadcasting House on 1 March but to me it is unfathomable that he would be absent for a Royal visit and broadcast. He is, sadly, (I have a lot of time for the BBC and what it does) as dour and canting as portrayed and, like Archbishop Laing, he is an Establishment figure who unhesitatingly took Baldwin’s side against the King. Is there a similarity? Well, I hesitate to seem anti-Scottish, I’m genuinely not, but there is something to the fact that both Laing and Reith were very upright (uptight?), dour, probably quite patronising Scots from very strict protestant upbringings who robustly defended the status quo against the forces of modernisation. They were miserable company, and I cannot think of anything more likely to irritate the King. While I have known a couple of old Scottish Tories, who had a slightly earnest side to them, they (mercifully) knew how to party. To me, Reith and Laing are the last of the Victorian Scots, terribly earnest, capable enough, great if you need a railway cutting through Africa, but not much fun to be around.

Percy is, as you may have guessed from the surname, a member of the famous (infamous) family that has run much of the North East of England for hundreds of years. I quite like this one, for a Tory he seems extremely liberal and was phenomenally loyal to his region. Not hugely remembered now, I genuinely think that, sounding trite, his ‘heart was in the right place’.

And we have the POD, again, which is the aspiration, from both the Government and the Crown (although the Crown’s is more of a canny acceptance to placate Baldwin, I think) for some senior national figure to mentor the King. This will take some time to play out, and it is time to leave the King for a few updates; this is Europe in early 1936, and major events are on the way…

@DylanMultiverse : I hear you, the AAR is more of the meandering, “I’ll get there in the end” type; I’ll deliberately swerve away from the Abdication arc for a few updates, both to show what else is going on in the world / UK and to avoid repetitive ‘he’ll have to go’ conferences-style updates.

@stnylan : Thank you, I actually enjoy complete fiction as much as the ‘based on a real meeting’ updates that form much of this first (largely historical) part of the AAR. And I couldn’t resist that throw away line from Kell.

@TheButterflyComposer : I think that much of MI5’s tone comes from Kell: certainly in the early days, pre-WW1, he was aghast at the more dramatic escapades of MI6.

@Captured Joe : All good stories need a menacing villain! You could argue that as MI5 has rumbled the German network they’re not that good…

@DensleyBlair : Thank you! While I knew that I wanted Butler to have some fun adventures, the update was a “rainy day in lockdown” production…

@Specialist290 : Wow, that’s quite the compliment there. I tried to make it a bit lighter (in places Tinker, Tailor is a bloody dark story) but am very heartened by your comment…

@DensleyBlair : A joint Le Carre – Ealing production then? That would be hilarious and menacing…am not sure who would play Butler. I’ve drafted (in my head) a couple of updates for the late summer which flesh out his character a bit more, and having done that I’m not sure that a young Guinness (an ironic selection given the Le Carre comments above!) would do the trick.

@H.Appleby : Thank you, as ever. The chase scene took a few rewrites, particularly the bridge bit (it was a lot shorter, initially).

@TheButterflyComposer : You are correct, and this is actually why I do like Le Carre, he at least recognises the work of the researches and administrators who make up the bulk of intelligence agencies.

@DensleyBlair : True!

@H.Appleby : So this comment reminds me, strongly, of Rory Kinnear’s observations on his character in Skyfall, along lines of “at the end of the day, Bond goes off with the car and the gadgets, Tanner gets on the Circle Line”.

@Bullfilter : So yes, I think that La Resistance offers a lot of writing potential, particularly for Britain, where almost every international ‘angle’ attracts British interest (in theory).

Urgh – Menzies (shudders)

@El Pip : Completely agree, and my point was that the list of ‘M’ sections had been raised, used, fiddled with and (in many cases) merged or disbanded long before early ’36.

@TheButterflyComposer : To respond to this point is quite a challenge, actually. You make your point very well.
 

TheButterflyComposer

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“Sir John,” the King said flatly, and decided to try and outmanoeuvre Reith; he offered him his hand. The towering Scot looked momentarily lost, and then recovered to shake the King’s hand.
He couldn't have looked more put out at that action than if the king had dropped his trousers.

the people of nearly every country of the world, under all conditions and circumstances. And, although I now speak to you as the King, I am still that same man who has had that experience and whose constant effort it will be to continue to promote the well-being of his fellow men”.
...somewhere in the wilderness Churchill drops his cigar and screams Communism! and he doesn't know why.

It could very easily be twisted by the left, including the far left in the UK. Especially during the abdication crisis and afterward. Its actually in line with soft-core fascist speak too, so they could make trouble also. Wonder why the more radical bits of politics didnt really around the really (at the time) radical monarch under attack by the dour establishment? Or did they?

To respond to this point is quite a challenge, actually. You make your point very
I'm entitled to my opinion...WHICH IS THE SAME THING AS BEING RIGHT!

It was more of a diversion from the Great Amercian Myth which was itself a diversion from the Great British Myth of Royalty. Not very relevant but it could be argued jingo-busting has to be done in HOI every so often to avoid falling for old rhetoric.
 

DensleyBlair

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Gentle, as you say, but a lovely update all the same. I appreciate AARs that have the confidence to take all the breathing room they feel they need in getting to the meat of the story. :)
 

Bullfilter

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We will see in due course whether Edward gets to make more than a First and an Abdication speech. And indeed whether they will be decorative and platitudinous or of substance.
 

stnylan

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It indeed a humbling thing to consider that just how recent the idea of a public telecommunications address (radio, tv, internet) is. The written circular - well they had been in practice for thousands of years in one form or another. This sending speech across the airwaves is revolutionary.

I've known a dour Scot or two in my time, and without exception they all had a wicked sense of humour, no matter how idiosyncratic it might be, or how deeply buried / locked away (as the case might be). Though I can quite imagine someone as relatively carefree as Edward VIII would not ever get a chance to discover it.
 

Specialist290

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And here we have the problem in its most condensed form. Everyone expects the King to follow along with a program laid out by them beforehand, where every motion is carefully choreographed and every contingency is (or seems to be) accounted for in advance. Edward VIII is not a man who likes being confined to a set program, leading to a distressing habit of going off-script -- in this case, quite literally.
 

Captured Joe

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What's all this nonsense about the well-being of our fellow men? Are we sure His Majesty isn't covertly courting the Communists?:eek:
 

El Pip

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And we have the POD, again, which is the aspiration, from both the Government and the Crown (although the Crown’s is more of a canny acceptance to placate Baldwin, I think) for some senior national figure to mentor the King.
That I believe is the issue, the lack of a figure that the King will respect and listen to who is acceptable to the Government. At a minimum he needs someone to give him the Gypsy's Warning in a way he will understand and listen to and the earlier the better.

What he actually requires is one of those infamous Sandringham Sergeant-Majors, the ones they use to break in the high ranking over-seas students. "You are quite the most disgracefully slovenly monarch I have ever had on this exercise square, your majesty, sir!" That sort of thing.