CHAPTER 10 – Encryption
“There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.”
The PM held back as the mourners filed out of St Pauls. Crowds and huddles were for others. David Cameron and his obedient puppy, Nick Clegg, both nodded at him politely. Emerging into the breeze, he slipped the double-breasted wool-blend twill overcoat back on.
The streets felt strange on the walk back. Uniformed police, union jacks fluttering. The word ‘limbo’ rattled unaccountably around his head.
He had arranged to meet George in the Lord Raglan, in St Martin’s Le Grand. The pub was nothing out of the ordinary. But the upstairs window seats were comfortable, and the cask ales from the Camden Town Brewery were exceptional.
The landlord greeted him like any other punter. “Hello Eric.” Rather than reply, he pointed to the Gentleman’s Wit beer, a white Belgian brew with a mild English accent. He held up two fingers and handed across a ten-pound note.
“Same music as before Eric?”
“That would be ……. entirely welcome.”
He climbed the stairs. His table of choice had been held in reserve. He stretched out the first sip. Letting through the taste of roasted lemons and noting the hint of bergamot around the roof of his mouth.
The opening track came over the speakers. Taxman. “There’s one for you, nineteen for me,” sang the Beatles, complaining about the huge tax rates paid by top earners back in 1966, under Labour’s Wilson government. George arrived, smiling at the choice of ale and sound.
In unison, Eric and George both remarked on Ringo Starr’s drumming. Then chuckled at the synchronicity. Two old men, white-haired blokes, having a beer and a laugh. They toasted Maggie.
“Sensible girl. Did exactly what she was told.”
“Made a lot of things possible.”
The conversation moved onto the billionaire founder of Amazon. “Jeff Bezos will join the club soon,” predicted George. “He’s making money hand over fist.”
“Those CIA contracts must have been useful,” said Eric.
Revolver played on, like invisible, all-knowing context. She said, I know what it’s like to be dead, I know what it is to be sad….
The album marked the Beatles’ last recording project before their retirement as live performers. Eric gazed out at the lunchtime traffic. Bankers prowling the streets, phones at their ears, working their cigarettes. “Just a matter of time for Bezos. The outstanding question is whether he plumps for phase two,” he said.
“And becomes Jeff, pure and simple,” said George. “Joins our ranks.”
Revolver played on, the guitars hinting at eastern mysteries and material transcendence.
Please, don’t wake me, no, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am, I’m only sleeping
Trillionaires Eric and George chatted on for another half hour. Officially dead, no surnames, reconstructed faces, no traceable addresses. Fully encrypted, to all but those who were needed.
The one beer was sufficient. They left just as the last track, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, wound to a close.
So play the game ‘Existence’ to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning…