Hambleton Walk – 21st Sept 2023: all is not always as it seems

Photographs by Simon Bradford, commentary by our man on the spot.

I recently received a rather curious note from a Dr Michael Halfwhistle, of Thames House in Millbank, London SW1, in which he asked in what I took to be a most unnecessarily stern manner, not just what I and my “fellow suspects” had been doing in Uppingham earlier this month, but why I had then so rashly published the pictures on what he called a “global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of connected networks using standardized communication protocols.”

I told him we called it the internet, and he then cited Rule 17, subsection 9 paragraph 4 of the 2021 protocol concerning specified meeting places for what he called “handovers.”

I assured him I knew nothing of such matters and if he was talking about unmentionable activities then I would prefer it if he didn’t mention them, thank you very much.

Next thing I knew two burley gentlemen and a lady (one does not of course describe the physical characteristics of a lady) were found to be a-knocking at my front door, demanding immediate entrance and claiming they had a warrant.

Naturally being an Englishman and thus knowing a castle when he lives in one, I denied them access whereupon they burst in without so much as a bye your leave and demanded copies of all my photographs.

I then told them that this would cost them a pretty penny and no mistake, eventually quoting two shillings and sixpence, and after much dillying and dallying they left in a minute and a huff.

Of course, I have followed this up via my close friends within the military intelligence circles and it seems that several of our walks of late have been through zones in which enemies of the Kingdom have been spotted passing by.    MI5 have now reached the conclusion that we are being used as a messaging”conduit” as I believe they call it.  I told them not to be so silly, and they duly arrested me on the grounds of having possession of surveillance equipment that could be used to provide information to an emeny of the state: to wit, a mobile phone. I protested with a certain amount of vim and vigour and pointed to this website, whereupon they suggested that no less than 40% of our recent walks had been in places of “particular interest” to the intelligence services.

After nine hours of questioning without the chance of a single pint of Guinness I was told to shut down the website and cease and desist from all actions liable to be of benefit to His Majesty’s enemies.  In particular, I was instructed to avoid conversing with swans.

Now I am not at all sure why swans were singled out at this point, but I can only imagine that they are central to the work of Sluzhba vneshney razvedki Rossiyskoy Federatsii who are known to frequent Peterborough and the surrounding areas in search of birds on whose ankles they are attach secret messages.

Of course as you know if you are a reader of my regular commentaries on this site, I don’t normally care to stray away from the facts of our walks but I do feel I must warn my fellow walkers, that we may have been infiltrated.

And contrary to popular mythology the outsiders may not be immediately recognisable through wearing balaclavas and shubas and dublyonkas (a type of fur and sheep skin coat, warm fur and wool hats known as ushanka, papakha and budenovka, or so I am told).

I have thus forwarded the collection of pictures here to the FSB pointing out that no one on any of our walks is wearing such garb and that any swans passed en route are English swans with impeccable pecks, not to say a strong national identity.  I do hope this reassures all members.

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