“Fergie Denies Plot to Remove Agent” (headline in Evening Herald).
The phone rang in the Manchester United Players’ Lounge. Agent 11, Ryan Giggs, picked it up, listened and then handed it to Agent 10. “It’s for you,” he said.
“Cheers”, said Agent 10, “put the phone on scramble”.
“Don’t need to”, said Agent 11, “it’s Fergie”.
Agent 10 took the phone and listened to the dulcet (*) tones of the head of MI6, Sir Alex “Fergie” Ferguson. “Seeyoujummy hootshoots muttermuttermcmumble absolooly gityerfuckenarse up here noo”, he heard. (*Dulcet, by the way, is an old Scottish word meaning “sounding like a cat being passed through a bin lorry”).
“I think he wants to see me,” said Agent 10, and headed out the door to the “Manager’s Office”, as Fergie’s room was known.
It was now over 30 years since MI6 gave up its cover as trading company Universal Exports and assumed the guise of a leading football club instead. The new cover was far more beneficial. As Manchester United, MI6 could sign Agents of many nationalities without having to explain themselves. They always had an excuse for travelling abroad in large numbers. And the income from the sale of United shirts was so large that it entirely financed the Gadgetry Department.
It also meant that they no longer had to have female Agents, which was an advantage since they spent most of their time on missions falling in love with their opposite number and going around in revealing attire.
They had not expected that the team would actually prove so successful, but in hindsight this was not totally surprising. After all, expertise in moving about quietly and unnoticed made their forwards very hard to mark, while the fact that the defenders knew six different ways to silently disable an opponent meant that they weren’t troubled whenever an opposing corner-kick was swung into their penalty area. Not after the first corner, anyway.
Now MI6 had a problem. An independent foreign Agent, Kia Joorabchian, had taken total control of one of MI6’s Agent, Carlos Tevez, using a mind-control technique (he offered him 32 million pounds). The men at the top had decided not to pay this man, and had directed Fergie to get rid of him. They had told him to send his top man.
His top man was busy, however, so in a moment of weakness he had sent Agent 10.
Agent 10 gave the secret knock and entered Fergie’s room. He took off his baseball cap and threw it towards the hatstand, and they both watched as it bounced off the wall and spun on the floor on its crown, like the centrepiece in a game of ‘Spin the Tortoise’. “Allright, boss,” said Agent 10, “the name’s Rooney. Wayne, er…” he stopped, took a card from his pocket and looked at it. “…Rooney”, he finished.
Fergie sighed. Wayne Rooney was a Special Agent. There is more than one possible meaning to that sentence.
Now Fergie had to hear his mission report. He was dreading it. He had not forgotten one of Agent 10’s earlier missions, where he had been sent to interrogate a granny in Liverpool and “find out everything she knows”. And by God he had. Some of the stuff the granny turned out to know still caused Fergie to wake up sweating in the middle of the night.
“Sit doon, Agent Rooney, I need to ken hoo ye got on wi’ tha’ mission I gave ye.”
“Well, boss,” said Rooney, wondering vaguely who Ken was, “I think I did really well this time. First of all I got some equipment from Um.”
“You mean M?”
“No, Um. That’s what I call the Serb bloke we have playing at centre-back. I can’t pronounce his real name.”
“What sort of stuff did you get from him?”
“Well, hair gel, Lynx deodorant, stuff like that”.
Fergie started to feel a sinking sensation. “Agent 10, what exactly was your mission?”
“Well, you told me to find Kia Joorabchian…”
“… and you explained that that wasn’t a Korean car…”
“… you explained that it was this Agent who was messing our Carlos about…”
“…. and you said you wanted him taken out.”
“Well, I took him out. We went for a few beers and then went trying to pull biihds.” (I’m sorry, you try writing “birds” in a Liverpool accent).
“Och, mon,” said Fergie, “that wasnae what I meant. When I say I want somone taken oot I mean I want them did. Though, o’ course, if ye were caught I’d have to disavoo any kenness o’ your actions.”
Agent 10 hung his head. “Sorry boss, I didn’t understand.” Then he brightened. “Hang on, though, there’s a chance he might have caught that swine flu”.
Fergie looked at him excitedly. That would be perfect – topical, with no known cure, and completely untraceable back to MI6. “Really? How did ye manage to give him that?”
“Well, at the end of the night we went for a Mexican.”