Straw was enjoying his breakfast, if that was the word for it.
The hotel had a breakfast bar supplied by a Chinese company called 'McFarm', which was supplying yolk-free eggs and salt-free pork patties in muffins, like the real thing but without the flavour.
A blue Chinese Rover 75 pulled up outside the lobby, and the driver waited while a shaven-headed SSS man – sorry, SP, they'd changed their name to Special Police – bounded up with a fresh smile and a banker's coat.
The announcement went out from the lobby desk for Robert Travis.
Arthur walked over, with an outstretched hand;
“Hello, good morning, everybody calls me Rab.”
“Good morning mister Travis, I've come to take you to see the big man. You ready?”
The brightness and head jerking exaggeration of the SP man were something Arthur disliked immediately. He smiled.
“Certainly, let's go.”
They walked out to the Ersatz Rover, which really had some sort of unpronouncable Chinese name, and the rough diesel moved them briskly through the streets, West to Whitehall.
Straw took in the sights with a deceptively idle gaze; gone were the sandbags and barbed wire at Trafalgar Square. Instead the approaches were preserved behind a gated wall similar to the Peace Wall in the Falls Road in old Belfast.
“Notice anything different?” asked the SPC.
“Can't say I do. Years since I came South. I'm guessing the barriers are new?”
“Yes, mister Travis. There was something of a terrorist problem a few years back.”
“Sectarians, malcontents, what you will.”
“We're safe now though?”
“Oh yes.” Again with the exaggerated smile.”Quite safe.”
There was a hint of madness about Straw's grin.
“That's good to know.”