|Visitors to the Tower of London, can watch a Beefeater, in his red tunic and black hat, feeding a raven. At least six are kept and, it is said, that if they desert the Tower, the Crown will fall and Britain with it. A story, but one is always kept caged. Just in case. Us believers, the superstitious Brits, find it comforting to see them in residence. We call it Tradition.
It is England's most secure fortress, full of secrets. No one knows them all. But secrets are always blabbed. Fortisque-Jones told his wife about the wicket gate, who told her hairdresser, who told... And so on. It hit the ears of a certain M. And a seed was planted. Steal the ravens. Better than any messy bomb.
M recruited J, via a dark internet cloud and the two wannabe terrorists plotted the downfall of a nation in M's garden shed. They would sneak in by the wicket gate, go straight to the ravens and capture them. They would ransom them. A billion pounds, the ravens returned and Britain saved. They would be rich heros.
The wicket gate's padlock was easily picked. The dank passage beyond reeked of the Thames with slimy steps at the end. M slipped and hurt his knee. J made him go on, despite the pain. M did not like being called a wimp. He made a pithy reply that nearly led to blows. They fell silent as a door was rattled. Then urged each other on in whispers. M tugged at the door latch and nearly fell down the steps as it swung open. J grabbed him. Then let go. A blinding light froze them.
'Halt! Who goes there?'
Later, M asked who had betrayed them.
'The ravens.' Quoth the Beefeater. Did he grin?