"Have you ever thought of how things might have been if just a few of our cards had been dealt differently?" Sir Andrew looked out of the window at the traffic forming and dispersing below him. A television crew were filming outside of the Foreign Office on the street.
"To be honest sir I never really sat down down thought about it" Kingston-Brown thumbed through paperwork for the days business, attaching multi-coloured tags and post-it notes before placing them very carefully into one of several red ministerial boxes labelled 'for the minister's attention.'
"I have. I've thought about it every day since I left University. My whole working life has been centred around attempting to stop the rot and.." he smiled to himself, perhaps remembering a past memory "..one might think it to no avail."
Sir Andrew turned and headed to the drinks cabinet, he poured himself a brandy and wandered back to the window "There were once two major movements in this country, the tories and the whigs." He took a gentle sip from his glass "the tories were more right wing and conservative in their way of thinking while the whigs were more liberal and radical. On the tory side they had their philosophical champions such as Burke while the whigs had Mills, Paine and others."
Kingston-Brown continued sorting the documents as he listened.
"These two sides were engaged in bitter and colossal combat. Whoever won would have a serious chance of controlling how the world would develop for a long time. The whigs were revolutionary, believing that the world must constantly change and that people must change too, that old systems would be swept away by the tidal wave of new ideas. The tories believed the opposite, that if Britain was to progress in the world it must cherish the checks and balances that had made it such a success."
"And what of liberty sir?"
"Liberty?" Sir Andrew almost scoffed at Kingston-Brown "Liberty was championed by both sides however in different ways. The whigs advocated action by the state to ensure the liberty of the masses, even to the point of prosecution to achieve this. Tories however advocated that the state should stay out of an individual's business come what may."
"So what happened?"
"The two sides were originally allied against a greater more autocratic threat. The Civil war defeated one threat to liberty but created a new one in that what kind of liberty should Britain have? After two hundred years there was a victor. However it was a pyrrhic victory. The tories had won and thus influenced how the world was shaped for the next century but at what cost?"
"I don't quite understand sir?"
"Through endless infighting we had lost sight of our goal. Paine, Mills, Rousseau, Hume, the lot of them all contributed towards our downfall through their own selfish and dogmatic goals." He finished his brandy and put the glass down slowly "at a time we should have been united, we were divided. At a time we should have dispatched our enemies and assumed domination, we faltered and paid the price."
"And now here we are sir" Kingston-Brown said, getting up and heading towards the exit with the ministerial red boxes "sir I'm just going to take a break and I will forward the days telegrams to you."
"Very good Kingston-Brown." Sir Andrew kept staring out of the window "Kingston-Brown...what if I could say that we could engineer our rise back to the top, create a new world order where it is our policy that shapes the world and not that of some tin pot neo-jacobin upstart like the European Union or the United States or even that of China?"
"Sir?" Kingston-Brown turned around to look at Sir Andrew "I don't quite understand what you are saying."
"Go to the archives in building five on Northumberland avenue. In the basement there is a secret archive where you will need several pass codes and identification as well as a signed and stamped letter bearing the seal of a privy councillor such as myself. When you are there you will be allowed to withdraw one file and one file only."
"I want you to withdraw a file with the title 'plan 75' and return it to me in the strictest of confidence." Sir Andrew turned and headed to the table. He took out a letter and wrote something down on it before taking out a metal zippo lighter and lighting a red candle. "I can trust you will serve me well?"
Kingston-Brown looked at Sir Andrew quizzically. He didn't know that there was a government archive on that street let alone a secret annex. This was all quite new to an assistant secretary. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
"I asked you a question Kingston-Brown."
"I shall sir."
"Very good." Sir Andrew signed the document and dripped candle wax over a spot at the bottom. He reached into his draw and pulled out a seal and stamped down on the wax. He folded the letter up very carefully and repeated this step before stepping to Kingston-Brown and handing the letter to him.
"Take the back entrance, instruct security to turn off the CCTV. Do not let anyone follow you. If you think you are being followed, burn the letter and return home for the day."
"Yes sir, of course sir." Kingston-Brown nodded hastily and put the red boxes to one side before leaving.
Sir Andrew smiled before returning to his desk "very good."