Dirtection Inc: episode 2

The secret history of fluff - now it’s war...
People often ask me if it’s boring.
The job, I mean – cleaning other people’s computers. “Boring?” I say,
“Is white-water rafting boring? Is tightrope walking over Niagara Falls boring? Is swimming naked with man-eating sharks boring?” If they are being honest, they generally say “No,” or “Probably not”. At which point I snap my fingers, affect a smirk of superiority and say, “Pah! Dull as dishwater compared to cleaning computers!”

Not many people believe me but, all the same, it’s true.

To the expert eye, you see, a piece of fluff can be every bit as incriminating as a crystal goblet of cyanide covered with blood-stained fingerprints. Take, for example, the ‘Saucy MP’s Sex-Romp Shocker!’ of which you have no doubt read in The Times or The Telegraph. It was my discovery of a piece of fluff containing a single blonde hair in the aforementioned Saucy MP’s photocopier which eventually led to the uncovering of that remarkable scandal. In retrospect, things would have been much simpler if I had accepted his claim that the incriminating fibre had been deposited there by his Yorkshire Terrier, Tootles. But my professional integrity got the better of me and, accordingly, my report was accurate to the point of indiscretion. Precisely how his wife (a brunette) managed to obtain a copy of that report, I really cannot say. I am told that she spent the bulk of the divorce settlement on a villa in Capri which she now shares with a teenage limbo dancer named Eric. And all because of one small piece of fluff.

I had no idea whether the piece of fluff which I had purloined from the keyboard of the Director of the Pen Wiggessy Research Base — which, if you have been paying attention, you will know is the top-secret Government place at which I am currently stationed — would lead to such dramatic consequences. But I had my suspicions.

Sadly, the Inland Revenue does not consider the scientific analysis of fluff to be a necessary part of the computer cleaning business and my pleas to offset tax against a few electron microscopes and a molecular isotope separator have fallen upon deaf ears. Which is why I was obliged to cycle up to the village post office in order to send the fluff away for further analysis. That was when I noticed the horsefly. A particularly fine specimen was merrily feasting upon the arm of the post mistress. I felt it my civic duty to bring this to her attention.

“Do you know,” I said, “that there is a horsefly even now sucking away your life’s blood?”
“Oh, yes,” she riposted, smiling jovially.
“His name is Harold.”

I was musing upon the significance of this somewhat curious reply as I cycled past the churchyard a few moments later. It was then that I happened to catch sight of the vicar. He’s a decent enough chap, as vicars go. But I am very much of the prejudice that vicars should wear vicarly garments rather than ill-fitting pyjamas and, if seen lurking in cemeteries at all, they should be doing so for vicarly reasons such as burying the dead rather than, as seemed the case at that moment, digging them up again. However, I am by no means a connoisseur of the ways of the countryside, having spent most of my life in the town, so who am I to pour scorn upon the foibles of the locals?

In addition to flies, vicars, fluff and post mistresses, there was one other thing on my mind that morning. You may recall that I had, just the day before, nefariously modified some data on the Base’s computer system. I had done this out of purely personal motives (the data in question happened to suggest that I be got rid of in ways too horrible to contemplate), but absolutely without authorisation.

When I arrived at the Base I was struck by the fact that there were a good many military types swarming around. This would not have been unusual had it been a military base, but it isn’t. Pen Wiggessy is an agricultural research facility dedicated to entirely peaceful endeavours such as the development of juicier tomatoes, pipless pomegranates and lettuces that actually taste of something. If we get visitors at all, they tend to be of the tweed and dung-stain variety. Combat jackets and blood stains were a new and unwelcome development.

Maybe my guilty conscience was beginning to get the better of me but it struck me that my modification of the database followed by the arrival of half the British army might be a sequence of events that was not entirely coincidental. So when, as I was chaining up my bike in the bike shed, a ferocious voice bellowed out — “That’s him! That’s the fella!” and I turned around to see a red-faced general pointing at me and two brawny soldiers with rifles running towards me, I may have been stunned, shocked and staggered but I cannot say that I was entirely surprised.

Revelations from fluff forensics in...Dirtection, Part 3 in our next edition, out Jan 2008.


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