Written by Dice
“Lovely day,” commented Jennifer.
“Yes it is,” agreed Alexander, “and feel that 1943 Summer breeze.”
“1943? That explains the soldiers, and the posters.”
Jennifer and Alexander had travelled through one of the Impossible Room’s many doors to a sunny city square with a green park in the middle. At different points around the square pairs of soldiers were stood chatting. Many of the walls and trees were World War Two propaganda and public information posters, most advising against giving away war secrets: “Keep – mum, she’s not all that dumb”, “Loose lips, sink ships” and “Careless talk costs lives” amongst the most popular.
The two were also dressed the part for the period. Alexander wore a standard grey suit with a white shirt and a tie with a simple stripped pattern, while Jennifer wore a plain long-sleeved blouse and a knee-length skirt.
“We’re in London aren’t we?” asked Jennifer.
“Yes, St James’s Square. And over there is the building we’re after – 31, Norfolk House,” replied Alexander pointing to a large brick building towards one of the square’s corners. It was a grand building, but no grander than any other the other buildings in the square.
“Well, let’s go then.”
“Hang on. We just need to wait… there, you see that window.” The window Alexander was referring to was a few floors up and was opened by a balding middle-aged man wearing a dark suit. “And if you look below that window,” continued Alexander tracing his pointing finger down to a women standing directly under the window looking up.
She was blonde with tanned skin holding a large floral bag. She wore a long pleated grey skirt, a white blouse and grey jacket.
“She seems very interested in that window,” noted Jennifer.
“Indeed she is. So you’re going to distract her while I get into position.”
“What?” exclaimed Jennifer. “How?”
“I don’t know, comment on her dress suit or something,” suggested Alexander as he strolled towards a tree near Norfolk House.
Jennifer sighed and set off towards the woman wondering what the hell she was going to say to her. The woman was still looking up at the window as if waiting for something. Jennifer took a large breath and moved in.
“Something interesting happening up there?” she asked.
“Pardon?” replied the women, turning towards Jennifer.
“Oh, nothing, though I have to say I love what you’re wearing.”
“Oh, um, thank you.” replied the woman, though she wasn’t really paying attention to Jennifer, she was again watching the open window.
Jennifer scolded herself for her poor attempt, she looked around for inspiration and found it in a poster, more specifically the slogan.
“New is it?” she asked.
“I knew it!” shouted Jennifer, surprising herself as much as the stranger. “And where did you get so much cloth? ‘Make do and mend?’ Indeed. Make do and flirt with the tailor more like.” Jennifer grabbed the women’s bag trying to peer in. “I’d bet my week’s rations that you’re having it off with the butcher too! How many sausages did he give you this week?”
A little out the way in the shade of a tree Alexander smiled to himself, Jennifer was doing better than he expected. There was a breeze and his attention was broken by a fluttering above the arguing women. A piece of paper had blown out of the open window. Alexander circled under the paper, watching it glide through the air, and as soon as it was close enough he grabbed it with one hand.
Meanwhile two soldiers had separated the two women and Jennifer had taken the chance to slip away. She had noticed Alexander catching the paper and wanted to know what it was.
“Very important,” he explained showing her the document. Jennifer didn’t get much chance to read it before Alexander snapped it away, but she did she a ‘Top Secret’ mark and the words ‘Operation Overlord.’
“Also known as D-Day,” clarified Alexander. “Wait here.”
Holding the document close to his chest, Alexander roughed up his clothes and staggered towards the door of Norfolk House. He presented the document to the soldier standing guard.
“Excuse me son, this piece of paper flew out of one of your windows. My eyes aren’t want they used to be so I don’t know if it’s important, but thought you’d want it back just in case.”
He handed the document to soldier and, on seeing the top secret mark, quickly hurried it inside. Alexander simply walked away, opened a door to the Impossible Room and lead Jennifer through.
Dice’s HHC entry was written as a dedication for the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. The events in this Alexander episode were actually inspired by events that happened in the summer before D-Day. In fact, Dice has pointed us in the direction of a particular BBC quote from 1943: “In the summer of 1943, a copy of a secret Operation Overlord plan blew out of a window in Norfolk House. It was later handed in by a man who said his eyes were so bad he had no idea what it was.” – You can find the link to the section, here. If you enjoyed Dice’s Alexander short, you can read more with “Gone” and “A Wonderful Thing“.