Anyway, Michael says to give him a ring if youre interested. Ive got the
number. Fetch a pen.
I tried to stop her. I didnt like the idea of her putting shape on my life,
but she was insistent.
Not everyone gets a chance like this. Youre twenty-four now. Youve only
got that small amount of money your father left you in his Paris account. Its
time you started thinking about a career and stopped working for that crooked
I argued with her a little more, just enough to convince myself that if I
went ahead it would be of my own volition and not because of some parental
arrangement. Then, two days later, I rang Hawkes.
It was shortly after nine oclock in the morning. He answered after one ring,
the voice crisp and alert.
Michael. Its Alec Milius.
About the conversation you had with my mother.
In the supermarket.
You want to go ahead?
If thats possible. Yes.
His manner was strangely abrupt. No friendly chat, no excess fat.
Ill talk to one of my colleagues. Theyll be in touch.
Three days later a letter arrived in a plain white envelope marked private
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
Dear Mr. Milius,
It has been suggested to me that you might be interested to have a discussion
with us about fast-stream appointments in government service in the field of
foreign affairs which occasionally arise in addition to those covered by the
Open Competition to the Diplomatic Service. This office has a responsibility for
recruitment to such appointments.
If you would like to take this possibility further, I should be grateful if
you would please complete the enclosed form and return it to me. Provided that
there is an appointment for which you appear potentially suitable, I shall then
invite you to an exploratory conversation at this office. Your travel expenses
will be refunded at the rate of a standard return rail fare plus tube fares.
I should stress that your acceptance of this invitation will not commit you
in any way, nor will it affect your candidature for any government appointments
for which you may apply or have applied.
As this letter is personal to you, I should be grateful if you could respect
Recruitment Liaison Office
Enclosed was a standard-issue, four-page application form: name and address,
education, brief employment history, and so on. I completed it within
twenty-four hoursreplete with liesand sent it back to Lucas. He replied by
return post, inviting me to the meeting.
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