25th October - a few photos of the operation (courtesy of Carol's digital camera), and Trouble at the Immoral Hotel - a short story by Di based on the event. This made me chortle so loudly my five and half year old "Bodie in Training" Kai came into my office demanding to know what was so funny in the email. I understand it caused my co-conspirator DC Good a few problems of the rib-tickling variety too. But can we actually leave it at that? Do we want them to escape? Can't we get them back....?
The Balmoral (that's Balmoral, not immoral...)
Operation Susie was an induction course for new recruits (although they didn't know it before they arrived...), held at The Balmoral Hotel in Nottingham to avoid compromising the security of CI5 HQ. Attendees were required to cover their own expenses as an indication of their keenness to join the organisation.
The first test was to actually find the Hotel - unfortunately most attendees failed their first attempt, and tales of U-turns on petrol station forecourts abounded... Operation Susie brought the bus lanes of Nottingham to a standstill. However, they all made it by registration. Just. (They did all manage to find the bugs in their rooms, too. Sue Tier thought her spider was Messianic - it walked on water...)
All attendees signed the unOfficial Secrets Act, then their operations folder containing their Operation Susie Agenda, CI5 Rules and Regulations, ID Badges, passes, and Application forms, were handed out, along with the first two tests - the Bodie Award for the Most Inventive Excuse or the Most Implausible Explanation and the "I'm sure that wasn't in the script..." Caption Competition.
All then adjourned to the V.I.P. Lounge to watch videos - Obsession, Back to Business, and others, including Commando Leopard, but fortunately by then the room was so noisy no-one could hear it...
The following morning, breakfast was served whether people wanted it or not, and most managed to consume a healthy amount. As far as the Deputy Controllers could gather no one crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. although some only managed to crawl into bed at 5 a.m.
The official welcome was however fully attended. Mr Cowley's traditional Roses and Lavender speech was delivered by Deputy Controller Taylor, and as you can see, certain attendees were of the impression they'd heard it all before. Application Forms were then collected and the real business of video-watching got underway, with Fugitive followed by Samurai Wind. The Deputy Controllers retired to their office (Carol's room aka the Cellar) to consider the Application Forms. (We're told the gales of laughter could be clearly heard from the Car Park.) For further details, see Appendix A
At 12.15 hrs, the Initiation Exam papers were distributed consisting of 105 questions on both historical and current CI5 operations and operatives, with a special section concentrating on eating habits. Lunch was then served (CI5 sandwiches - standard issue but no liver sausage or raspberry jam) and to the accompaniment of the Robin of Sherwood episode The Sheriff of Nottingham (how appropriate) a certain amount of brow-scratching went on as attendees attempted to complete their exam papers.
At 14.00 hours, a sequence of four short observation tests took place. It was - interesting... The Deputy Controllers noted the difficulty some attendees had in taking their eyes off the operatives to focus on the background and special training may be required to remedy this potential security hazard. Whilst the Deputy Controllers retired to consider the results of the Observation Tests, Klansman and Tusk Force were shown.
The Bodie Award and "I'm sure that wasn't in the script..." were collected (a little late) at 15.30 hours, although one attendee had to be threatened with writing "I love Doyle more than Bodie" 200 times, unless she completed her forms in the next ten minutes. (She did...)
Initiation Exam papers were collected (with some difficulty) and associated productions (Facelift extracts and The Bullshitters) were then screened before dinner, whereupon it was discovered that certain attendees had gone AWOL. The somewhat alarming discovery was also made that our bar was running dry, because our host in a 'friendly hotelier sort of way' informed the Deputy Controllers he hadn't expected the attendees to drink quite so much... He promised to rectify the matter for any future CI5 operations.
The evening's viewing kicked off with Ladder of Swords, followed by Stakeout, Discovered in a Graveyard, Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown and Choice Cuts while the Deputy Controllers retired to the Cellar with the Initiation Exam papers for marking and a couple of very stiff drinks...
At 01.00 hours, they finally stopped laughing and started adding up the scores, and at 02.00 hours they joined what remained of the attendees in the V.I.P. Lounge for a FF view of Slush Fund, eventually locking the door at 03.00 hours. (Deputy Controller Good wishes people to know she really cannot function on this little sleep...)
Debriefing at 10.00 hours was once again fully attended (just) and the Deputy Controllers delivered their assessment of attendees' performance, highlighting certain notable talents, skills and abilities.
To quote from Deputy Controller Good's report: The Application Forms were interesting, and we noted the following in particular. Di and Alyse will be appointed to the Department of Mis-Information immediately. Louise will be posted to Alaska undercover as a Polar Bear, and we're sure we can find Tasha a contract job, somewhere. Sue (Salter) who apparently can walk sometimes may need to report to Macklin so that we can be sure. Jill and Chya are going on a mattress-testing course, since we apparently need to enhance their bone-jumping skills.
The general standard of education was impressive. Attendees have apparently taken instruction from the Marquis de Sade and Secret Squirrel, amongst others. And the Deputy Controllers will be certain to point out to Mr Cowley and Mr Malone that St Trinian's should be closely watched as a place to find potential new recruits since so many attendees apparently went there. The specialist qualifications were excellent, ranging in languages from Latin and Japanese, with someone who apparently can speak cat and dog, down to someone who talks complete bollocks. Physical qualifications ranged from black belts in martial arts, through excellent night vision (although we're not sure what that's used for), down to someone who has a powerful stare learnt from Paddington Bear. We also have several competent computer wreckers, although we're quite sure everyone can manage that.
Overall, we felt Lynn's explanation of why she wanted to join CI5 summed it all up: "To make the world a better place. Oh, and to drive fast cars, shoot people and make things go kaboom..."
The Deputy Controllers awarded Sue Tier a set of handcuffs (since she is now married to the job) for the most impressive application form, and because she fixed them with her very powerful stare (that she learnt from Paddington Bear).
The next award was given for the "I'm sure that wasn't in the script...". For the Tommy picture, we received many answers (and didn't know we had quite that many subversives amongst us) but went for one of the cleaner responses - "I hate these telescopic umbrellas..." - and presented the prize of a CI5-issue Capri Workshop Manual to Sue Salter. For the Bodie and half-naked girl photo, we liked the answer given by Alyse (which had Deputy Controller Taylor ROFLMAO-ing) - "And you would be a... woman, right?" She was awarded a signed photo of Colin Wells (aka Sam Curtis) which was kindly donated by Heather and Sue.
Next was the Bodie Award. The explanation of the photo in Bodie's phone was provided by Louise: "It's like a bat phone - it glows when Cowley rings Bodie", for which she was awarded a framed CI5 restricted issue photo of Malone. For the photo in Doyle's flat Heather provided the explanation - "He keeps it on the mantelpiece to keep the nephews, nieces and dog away from the fire at Christmas", and she received a framed CI5 restricted issue photo of Cowley.
There was a possible score of 27 points available on the Observation Test - the highest score was achieved by Chya, who received 26 points. This did include an "Och, don't be daft" bonus point for suggesting that the airplane sticker was advertising Interflora. Chya received a pair of binoculars to assist observation. Second prize went to Jill, with 23 points, who received one of the library books featured in Fugitive.
The Initiation Exam was (surprisingly) high-scoring. The Deputy Controllers were unable to give exact scores due to the highly complex scoring system they had to devise. (Not that it mattered, because their decision was arbitrary and final in any case.) A large number of "Och, don't be daft" and "Don't be cheeky" bonus points were awarded - in the case of one attendee these totalled twice the number of right answers...
Jennie was top in the Exam, and received a Commando kit. Di (with just one point less) received a replica of Bodie's shirt (as worn in Stakeout and Hunter/Hunted), styled by Well'ard Shirts of London, sold exclusively by Boutique Bonehead and Foyle of Carnaby Street.
A special prize was awarded to Kate for the Food & Drink section of the Initiation Exam - a CI5 Lunchbox, consisting of a packet of sliced liver sausage, a small box of Pizza-flavoured Pringles, a raspberry Swiss roll and a bottle of Budweiser.
Special mention was made of Lynn, who despite suffering food poisoning earlier in the week (and not, we hasten to add, from the Hotel) still attended thereby showing the sort of commitment (and she probably should be!) required by the organisation. If the Deputy Controllers had suspected she was malingering (see Rule 9) she would have been shot, however, a prize of a superspy listening gadget will help in her new career.
And a special prize, for the attendee who irritated us the most by playing the theme tune on their mobile phone, went to Di, in the hope that a plastic mobile phone might be quieter. However, hopes were dashed as soon as she opened the packet and found it made noises...
Not everyone could be top of the class, but everyone survived the Operation Susie Induction Course, and received a Certificate of Achievement, personally signed by the Controllers and the Deputy Controllers, to be displayed wherever attendees felt would be most appropriate. (In the downstairs loo, or in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.)
The Deputy Controllers would like to thank everyone for attending - we hope you enjoyed the experience! (We did, although next time we'll try and get to talk to more people.) We're sure you're all looking forward to your probationary periods and further training...
We'd also like to thank everyone for our watches! Ye gods..... Who needs a Superman watch when you can have James Bond talk to you on the hour, every hour...? (Admittedly, if he sounded a bit more like Bodie or Doyle it would be nice. But then we'd never get anything done, so I suppose it's better this way....)
Very special thanks go to Tasha (and Rob), for bringing their video projector and five-foot screen (so we could drool over our Lads at larger-than-life size!) Special thanks also to Jill, for uncut versions of The New Professionals, Jo, for Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Lynn for the rare Theatre Programmes. And we can't leave without a special mention of our genial host, Phil, who allowed us to handcuff him, put a gun to his head, and photograph him spreadeagled over the bonnet of the Capri...
Finally, Deputy Controller Taylor would like to thank Deputy Controller Good for sitting and typing this report whilst being subjected to stereo back-seat html-ing...
Update 2nd Nov. - shame upon me, I forgot to add a special thanks to Carol for all her help in making the event such a success. From sitting howling with laughter as we made up the rules, through designing and formatting all the stationery, to doing the bulk of the printing, to sharing the marking - and actually making sure I got to Nottingham in the first place! Many, many thanks!
Although, that being said…
Sorry Di, we're not covering your bar bill! Back
Although they both attempted to issue a disclaimer at this point Back
© 2000 Joules Taylor & Carol Good
© 2000 WordWrights.