Exclusive: the tapes that the spies didn't want to leak

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The Independent Online
I HAVE been lucky enough to secure a transcript of a highly confidential tape recording made at one of the royal residences. It seems to be a conversation between two MI5 operatives at a rather explosive stage in their relationship. They are discussing where to put a highly sensitive bugging device:

A: Over here?

B: On the bedside table? That's a sodding stupid place to put it.

A: Why? That's where people have intimate discussions. In bed.

B: You don't know anything, do you? If people have anything in bed, it's intimacy. Bed's too bloody intimate for conversations.

A: All right, clever clogs. Where do you want to put it, then?

B: In the overhead light?

A: You're joking] We all know what happens with bugs in overhead lights. Bulb blows. His Royal Highness gets on the blower for a new bulb. Electrician comes up and says: 'What's this funny little gadget 'ere, then?' and we're all blown.

B: Maybe His Royal Thingy changes his own bulbs.

A: Maybe I'm Barbara Cartland.

B: OK, then. What about putting it behind the picture by the window?

A: And if they don't go over to the window?

B: Blimey. Look at this. Have you ever seen anything like this painting? You'd think the Royal Family would be able to afford something a little better than this.

A: You ignorant git. That's his.

B: Whose?

A: His. He paints, you know.

B: Bit wishy-washy. A washing-up watercolour, so to speak.

A: Actually, I like it. It's quite atmospheric in its own way.

B: Shows how little you know. Remember that job we were doing the other day at what's-her-face's . . .? A: The Rimington woman?

B: S'right. Those carpets you were raving about? They were vile. The amount of high-ups' rooms we've bugged, you'd think you'd have picked up some taste by now.

A: Oh, come on - being high-up doesn't give you taste. Remember all that religious stuff we saw in John Gummer's bedroom?

B: Yes, I'd forgotten that. And d'you remember how we thought we'd picked up some really explosive stuff there - total proof of his advanced dementia?

A: . . . and it turned out we had just recorded him saying his prayers?

B: Right. Apparently they're using that tape for the Christmas party cabaret this year.

A: So where are we going to put it?

B: What about by the bathroom door? Then we can get all those conversations that people have when one of them is in the bathroom and the other sitting on the bed, hurling franknesses across the bathroom tiles. I always fancy people talk more frankly when they can't see each other, don't you? Like they do on the phone.

A: I never talk frankly on the phone.

B: I'm not talking about us, you (expletive deleted). We know better than to say anything interesting on the phone.

A: Who'd be interested in what we say anyway?

B: Who'd be interested in what the Rimington woman said?

A: I often wonder what she'd say if she knew the things that go on . . .

B: So where shall we put it?

A: Under the bed?

B: Fatal. Remember that Cecil Parkinson recording we had? All twanging springs and no Parkinson?

A: Right. I'm making a decision. I'm putting it under this table here.

B: Just a minute. You put two under there.

A: Two what?

B: Two bugs.

A: No, I didn't. You're crazy.

B: Yes, you did. Look]

A: Ah. Oh, yes, so I did.

B: What's the game, Trev?

A: Nothing, Sid.

B: Are you having our conversations bugged?

A: Course not.

B: Then what . . .?

A: Promise not to tell a soul?

B: On my honour.

A: One bug is for official records.

B: Yes.

A: The other's for the newspaper.

B: What newspaper?

A: Well . . .

B: I don't believe it] Are you taping these conversations privately and selling the transcripts to a paper?

A: Well . . .

B: You unprincipled baboon] You mean you're doing all this and not cutting me in?

A: Look, Sid . . .

B: You bastard] I've had enough] I want to get another partner.

A: You don't mean . . . separation?

B: And why not?

A: We've always worked together]

B: That's what I thought till I came across this little scam. Now I find you've been double-crossing me . . . A: Sid, let's just talk this through. Give me another chance . . .

More exclusive MI5 tapes tomorrow.