Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Character: George Caldwell

Another character blog for Heaven & Hell, this one set at a point earlier in the book...


For Queen and country.

For thirty five years, that's been my cause. Service to the Queen, and to my country. Safeguarding national security, and all that.  I'm the Director of the Security Service. In common parlance, it's MI5. We're not like our colleagues over in 'Six'. They're the ones who get to travel all over the world. We're the ones dealing with the threats right here at home. It helps that we all get along with each other now, though to be honest... that hasn't always been the case.

When I started my working life as what some refer to as a spook, we spent our time ferreting out Soviet infiltrators and traitors. We had to cope with terrorists on the leash of the Russians... or the Irish problem. These days? Well, the world's changed, and not really for the better. The Russians might be free market these days, but there's still an autocrat running the country like his own private fiefdom over there and causing trouble over here.

The IRA might have put down their guns, but that doesn't mean all of them agree with it, let alone all of their opposition in Ulster. There's the growing problem we're seeing with anarchist groups. And there's no end of radical Islamists right here in the United Kingdom looking to start a holy war.

We find ourselves worrying about that chap sitting across the aisle on the Underground... or that woman coming into a packed library. We wonder if they're a suicide bomber. That's the way things have been since the London bombings a few years back. The British people are used to it, granted. We got through the Battle of Britain and the Irish Troubles. We got on with it and carried on.

I've been at the top of the Service for the last two years. I earned my way here by being right far more then being wrong. I've listened to my instincts, I've acted decisively, and I've learned a long time ago that a little healthy suspicion is a good thing. Even if by a little I really mean a lot.

Two days ago, the Palestinian President was murdered here on British soil. On my watch.

He was staying at the home of a friend, an Oxford professor. Alex Hastings, a self righteous prat who didn't like the notion of security personnel properly mounting a full security detail on his property. Apparently in his world, his dislike of government authorities, particularly the security services, is more important then the life of his friend.

It's a hard fact that an assassin will find a way through any security detail if they're that bound and determined to remove their target. A terrorist sniper gunned him down outside the manor, and it's set off a firestorm. The best chance of peace and a two state solution between Palestine and Israel... paid the ultimate price.

To his credit, the Prime Minister isn't asking anyone to fall on their swords. His predecessor would have. Instead, he's asked us all to make sure it doesn't happen again. He wants the killers hunted down, even if it's to the ends of the earth. It's out of my court now, and into the responsibility of my counterpart over at 'Six'. Claire Tavington runs MI6 well. She has outstanding agents at the ready, and I'm certain they'll be sent out against the Covenant.

Meanwhile, my people have to continue the investigation here. And I wonder... how long will it be before the anger in the Middle East spills over here? How far might we have to go to stop it?
Yes, it's a peculiar choice, but I could easily see Michael Palin as this character...


  1. You've really researched your characters' backgrounds--very realistic! Bravo!

  2. Caldwell's actually going to get more time then I initially thought as I set out... I really like writing him.

  3. Great character set-up...It would be very difficult to have to live with yourself for letting the person that you're supposed to be 'babysitting' die...

    Great blog, William.

  4. Ooo... this sucked me in. I thought maybe you were reporting on real life, but kept thinking,"no, wait, William's in Canada ..."

    lol! Awesome!

  5. I don't keep up with world politics as I should, so you had me taking your word for the general state of affairs. I had to keep reminding myself, this is fiction - it may or may not be right on the money for real life.

    Well done!

  6. Wow!!! I've been sucked in like the rest.

  7. A lot of the background tends to lean as close to real world as I can get it.

    Even if I'm half expecting my MI5 chief to blurt out, "Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!"


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