FROM Graham Greene to Len Deighton, when it comes to secret headquarters to powerhouses of espionage, nine times out of ten the ambience is one of anonymous backstreets.
I felt something of that atmosphere when, after twisting and turning around Paddington, my taxi deposited me at a house in North Wharf that turned out to be the London Headquarters of British Forces Broadcasting.
Security at the front door, some other normal business operation on the first floor (suspicious) and security again on the second floor, where at least one studio, visible in the tiny reception area, pulsed with life.
A forceful character called Tommy Vance was interviewing a demure-faced lady about Royal jewellery and playing a record every so often. Soon I
was ushered in and found myself talking to I-know-not-where, Tommy voraciously interviewing me and, every now and then, throwing his head back and chortling a great chortle before giving me a big thank you.
Almost without knowing it, I was ushered back to the lift by a lissom brunette, whisked down and out into the normal streets of London. The MI5 feeling hadn't left me. Then I remembered. I could still see Vance's face across the tapedesk, just above the two elongated notices right in front of my nose. One simply said BFBS.
The other "Wednesday". I now remembered him saying as he introduced me "This Wednesday, here in London".
The problem is. It was Friday.
JAZZ FANS are a world unto themselves. They talk another language, purr with pleasure and create in your mind a dreamland you long to enter. Alas, although too often you are not quite up to it when you step inside, I give them full marks for poetry and persuasion. It was a little bit over the top, however, to hear a Radio Eireann voice full of Jazz intimacy whisper to us after quite a classy number . . . "that was recorded live in the Opera House, Cork, last Saturday."