JOHN LE CARRE tries a chick lit romp
Fiona had finally persuaded hunky George Smiley to book a mini-break, and in the morning she received a printed postcard, second class. ‘Come to the Mason’s Arms, Railway Road, Beaconsfield at five o’clock. Ask for Mr White.’
Fiona screeched to a halt outside the hotel in her red Jilly Cooper Gti. The reception area smelled of… Bovril and paraffin. She had hoped for a log fire and champagne. After a sotto voce exchange by telephone, the night porter gained clearance to show Fiona to a safe room on the first floor. The single bed had a candlewick counterpane, and through the net curtain she could see the exit and the entrance to the car park.
George returned from the bathroom down the landing and cleaned his spectacles on his tie, slowly, carefully, then replaced them on his nose.
‘Did anyone see you come in?’ he said.
‘Only the night manager,’ said Fiona. ‘Now, come on, Mr Grumpy, get those braces off.’
‘Were you followed?’ said George. ‘Do Brian’s people know you’re here?’
‘Brian’s at work, darling, I’ve told you.’
‘But who’s Brian working for?’ said George, taking off his glasses again and squeezing the bridge of his nose.
‘Abbey National, I’ve told you!’ said Fiona. ‘Ooh I love that thing you do with your nose.’
‘Mmm… I think Brian may have been turned,’ said George grimly. ‘Bradford’s been on to him. So’s Bingley.’
‘Darling,’ said Fiona. ‘Get under the blankets. Do that thing where you pretend to be a mole.’
George took off his glasses — yet again — and did as he was told, without committing himself.
‘That’s heaven,’ called out Fiona. ‘And how is it for you, George?’
‘I really couldn’t say,’ said Smiley, getting up and putting on his hat. ‘I have to go now. My wife telephoned. We’re taking the children to the Circus.’