To be honest, there are not too many perks associated with being a pulp fiction writer. You know, perks like earning so much as a fraction of a living. Today, Amazon are telling me I have earned about £30 so far this month. Which makes it a pretty good month by the way! Sales of your actual printed page books in April? Ah. Well, that would be a big fat zero.
For pulp fiction writers like the author of this post, the worst job in the world goes something like this. You add up all of the hours you have spent researching, writing and promoting your books. OK. This is Figure A. Then you add up all the money you have earned from punting them out. Figure B. Then you grit your teeth and divide Figure A by Figure B and lo and behold you discover the hourly rate of pay achieved. For me the figure is something which hovers around 10p per hour. I doubt if I will ever manage to seriously threaten the paycheck of an Indonesian sweat shop worker. It's why those of us who don't go by the name Grisham rely on our day jobs to keep the lights on.
So I reckon we deserve the odd perk here and there, right? One such perk is surely the right to indulge in the occasional conspiracy theory.
So here we go.
A spy swapped Russian from the icy depths of the Cold War and his daughter are poisoned in Salisbury. Now that part is about the only straight forward element to the whole affair. Everything beyond this basic fact has become lost in a whirlwind of claim and counter claim. It is amazing how you can start with a nerve agent attack in a leafy English town and end up worrying about the fate of one cat and two hamsters. Mad world, right?
Almost everything we have watched go down over the last couple of weeks has been extremely weird. Nothing much seems to add up.
Here are a few of my head scratchers.
Ex UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, knocked out a blog quoting a Porton Down report from two years ago which explained why they hadn't added Novichok to their list of dastardly chemical and biological weapons. They had never actually seen Novichok. It was merely a story told by a defector from 1981 who had worked on making it. They didn't say there was no such thing. They merely played a bureaucratic straight bat and said they couldn't talk sensibly about something they had never actually seen. Fair enough.
Which made it a tad hard to explain when they were suddenly able to name and shame Novichok within hours of the Skripals being found at death's door on a park bench. Now Craig Murray pointing out this inconvenient truth wasn't exactly a problem for Russia. Quite the opposite. Which begs a big question, namely who was it who launched a monumental cyber attack on his blog page? And I mean massive. 12.5 million attacks in 24 hours.
Then there are the anomalies about Novichok itself which nobody seems to want to talk about. To start with this stuff was hailed to be the most wickedly toxic substance on planet earth. The name certainly made it seem that way. So how come the Skripals seem to have made a pretty good recovery? This is hardly the norm when the Russians set out to get their man. The Kremlin doesn't exactly have a track record of choosing duff poisons.
Then there is all the usual stuff about Vladimir Putin. Once a KGB man always KGB man! Sound familiar? I have heard a few ex spooks describing one of the espionage game's most treasured unwritten rules. You never, ever top anyone who has been a part of a spy swap. Why? Simple. Because if you ever do succumb to the temptation of whacking someone you have swapped, well, there won't be any more swaps. And if you lose the option of the spy swap, then you lose the chance of ever getting your guys back if and when things go wrong. All the spooks say this is something a true ex spook would never, ever give up. Once a KGB man always a KGB man?
But the big one for me is the reaction of the British State. I found my way to an extraordinary series of articles from Buzzfeed which you can find here if you are interested.
LOTS OF RUSSIAN KILLINGS IN THE UK
Basically is seems Sasha Litvinenko was far from being alone. Buzzfeed reckon there have been at least 14 killings over the last few years carried out on British soil by the Kremlin or the Russian Mafia or both. And who told Buzzfeed? Multiple sources from within the CIA and the NSA.
One case in particular jumps from the page - Alexander Perepilichnyy.
Now Alex started out as a bit of a bad boy. His finger prints were all over a Russian mafia heist which scalped $230 million. When he fell foul of the guys with power drills and blow torches, he got out of Dodge (Well, Moscow) and fled to London. And then he did the poacher turned gamekeeper thing and took the Eurostar to Paris to spill the beans to a bunch of Swiss prosecuters.
It seems the lads with the power drills and blow torches were less than amused. A hit was put out and within a week of returning from Paris Alex dropped dead from a heart attack on his morning jog along the leafy byways of Surrey. You would have though the Met might have found this somewhat suspicious. Alex was a relatively young man who had only a month earlier undertaken a rigorous medical for a new life insurance policy.
Well they weren't suspicious at all. Nothing to see here chaps. Natural causes. Case closed.
What of the coroner? Same thing. Nothing to see here.
And when the Governments of The USA and France and Switzerland started kicking up a fuss, what did our gallant Home Secretary have to say about it? Nothing to see here.....
And there it might have ended at the familiar stone wall of the British Establishment. But it didn't end there because Legal and General refused to write a cheque on the life insurance. They sued for another autopsy and in the end they got one. And guess what they found? Traces of a rare Chinese flowering plant called Gelsemium. Not the kind of plant which grows much in Surrey. It has a nick name - 'Heartbreak Grass'. Because if you eat Gelsemium it does exactly what it says on the tin. It gives you an instant and massive coronary. It literally breaks your heart. It renders you very dead indeed.
Now this is much more like the Kremlin's usual choice of poison. As in the kind that leaves you deader than dead as opposed to released from intensive care and on the road to recovery.
Armed with this rather clear proof, every man and his dog demanded an enquiry. Well of course they did. Did they get one? Nope. Our gallant Home Secretary who of course is now our gallant Prime Minister said an enquiry was out for the questions due to issues of National Security. This reason came from a well worn play book. It was the same reason Sasha Litvinenko's widow had thrown in her face for ten long years. It was the reason Sasha Litvinenko was the only murdered Russian to be enquired into.
Reasons? Why the stone wall? Why the complete lack of interest shown when 14 Russians are whacked in plain sight. Well Buzzbeed asked this question of people in Washington described as 'senior intelligence sources'. The answer came dripping with contempt. In their view, the London Establishment had become totally addicted to the heroin of dirty Russian money. And so long as dirty Russian money continued to prop up dividends in the City and mansion prices in Belgravia, then the Kremlin was more than welcome to kill any enemy they liked on British soil. Enjoy your special London murderer's Oyster Card, tovarich. Pay up and poison as you go. Nice.
But now everything has suddenly changed. A failed poisoning along with two dead hamsters and one dead cat has hailed the return of the Cold War. All of a sudden our gallant leader is willing to turn her back on all that lovely dirty Russian money and all Hell has been let well and truly loose.
So what has precipitated this dramatic change of heart? Well, here comes my conspiracy theory.
The big change is the same big change as it always is. Brexit. I think the government is taking rather more notice of its own economic projections than they are letting on. They know only too well just how screwed the UK really is. Basically they see a Realm where only two regions stump up more tax than they consume. One of course is London and the South East.
The other is Scotland.
So how are things looking for London and South East? Pretty crap, that's how. It seems pretty clear the City isn't going to be cut any breaks by Brussels. And what chance for tourism when all those super smart, super polite, super capable young Europeans stop coming? And who will be there to sweep the roads and empty the bins and man A&E and build stuff? Ouch. Brexit is about to hit London like a 38 tonne truck with an ISIS guy at the wheel.
The UK's balance of payments is already completely dire. If London takes a hit, it will get even worse. My oh my, it seems HMG is going need to hang on to all that lovely Scottish trade surplus at all costs.
Oh my God! What if those Scottish bastards have another referendum? What if......
Oh yeah. It just gets worse. Especially as more of the Brexit pigeons make it home to their roosts and London bows to the inevitable and signs off on the kind of deal on the Irish Border which will have Rees Mogg spitting with rage. Because here's the thing, if they agree a completely open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, then they can't make up scare stories about a future hard border between England and an independent Scotland.
And this will only be one of the many lies of September 2014 which can never be told again. Remember Ed Milliband's warnings of fences and watchtowers at Gretna? I certainly do.
They will be able to see the writing on the wall as clearly as we can see it up here. Last time we started at 29% and took it all the way to 45% whilst they told every lie they could think of. This time we start at 45% and all their lies are used up. This time they're going to lose. They know it only too well. If only we had the confidence to know it as well, but that is another story.
So how would it play out? Scotland sails away. The rest of the UK falls into a massive balance of payments crisis. Run on the pound. And in the blink of an eye London will find itself knocking on the door of the Third World.
Time for Plan B.
As in don't let those aforesaid Scottish bastards get the chance of having a second referendum at all. Sounds good, but how? What reason could be given? Threatening them and telling them to do as their told probably won't wash all that well.
So how's about this? Why don't we take the opportunity to poke the Russian bear? You know. Really get in their faces and ramp it up. And so long as we get the tabloids onside, then we'll be able to start scaring everyone to death. And once everyone is well and truly bricking it, we play out our aces.
The only thing standing between our treasured way of life and the marauding Russian hordes is our treasured Trident deterrent. Without Trident, we're all doomed. Without Trident, every man, woman and child in Britain will be transported to Siberia and forced to eat live rats. And at this time of national emergency, these communist loving Scots are threatening to take away our last line of defence and leave us all exposed to rape and pillage from vast hordes of savage Cossacks.....
Well people of Britain, let me tell you this. I cannot and I will not allow 5 million irresponsible, traitorous Scots to put the sixty million inhabitants of these Sceptered Isles at risk of annihilation. Oh no. Never! Not on my watch! There will be no Scottish Referendum! Not now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not ever. From here on in we are all in this together......
For reasons of National Security.......
Just a thought!