Sunday, August 18, 2013

Training for Trailing Spouses

I have become the perfection of idle for many observers of the business of trailing the better half. Few appreciate, or seem to care, that I remove myself from danger and achieve ends by the application of poncing rather than working.


Get into the sports bag, Mr. Williams.

Most people are unorganized instruments as far as the business of trailing is concerned. Before they can be used effectively a Trailing Spouse (TS) must be selected, vetted, trained and tested. Any individual who is determined to enter into trailing as a profession and who is unaffected by gossip or social beliefs should evaluate the structure, challenges, rewards, training and likely career path. 


A sexually compromising situation can be a good lever when trying to recruit a new agent.


Recruitment should always be class conscious. A TS should come from the upper-middle classes or landed gentry.  Social background and breeding and family connections play a significant part. Education, intelligence and an aptitude for trailing activities (lunch, tennis, love affairs) are obviously important, but character is considered vital. 


The executive officers of the two main branches of trailing services largely come from families with a long history of cringing service. Such a method of selection leads to all levels being far from radical and tending towards conservatism. However, this does not prevent the development of eccentricities of character which can grow to oddities under the pressures of trailing activity.   



The Trailing Spouse Service (TSS) is subordinated to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office but it is responsible in actuality only to the Prime Minister of the day.


"Alex, a quick word about your expenses..."

Depending upon political developments overseas and the respective strengths of character of the Head of the TSS and the Prime Minister, the degree of control varies. Certainly, for a good deal of the time, some of the activity and budget of the TSS is virtually within its own control.  It says much for the antiquated  framework within which it carries out its very unethical activities that it appears to be less open to abuses of power than any other major trailing service. 


A TSS agent enjoys the lilies of the field


A high percentage of TSS officers operate under the legal cover of British Embassies. There is little to set them apart from the rest but they do have characteristics that a keen observer can note. They are quick minded but also quick tempered and show other considerable signs of stress, often including womanizing and a heavy consumption of booze.  


The more ordinary the meeting the more suitable for the TSS agent and his cut-out.


Outside the confines of the Embassy they will run agents drawn from well placed inhabitants in the community. They will rarely deal with these directly, operating through cut-outs locally recruited or drawn from the unwashed ranks of the host society.  These have the advantage of being free from the time-consuming round of diplomatic parties and also from surveillance by the local counter-espionage service.

Well-fed happy white men doing their bit for Queen and Country

TSS is staffed at its most senior levels largely by one time members of the ex-colonial police. At its less senior levels it is notable for employing large numbers of young white ladies from good, upper middle class backgrounds who serve a number of years between leaving school and getting married.  Those who do marry can rise to positions of active trailing by middle-age.


8 out of 10 would like to take England back to 1939 


The background of the TSS calls for people of the same character. They are accustomed to operating within a paternalistic organization believing in, if rarely expressing, codes of personal conduct that the country has not held to for 70 years. This does make them easy to penetrate by cunning and persistent agents, but it also carries the inestimable benefit that neither the TSS is likely to want -- the very real say in running the country that has been acquired by American, Russian and Chinese services. 


"Is that a Holland Park necktie?"


The British Trailing Spouse Service is unexciting, reasonably effective and poses little threat to individual liberty. Compared to many other countries Britain has a lot for which to be thankful.