In this Testament I must write of my one and only meeting with The Master. I had been given an appointment on a Wednesday morning at 11.30am and I was punctual. I was recognised by security and admitted without any particular precautions. Everything was friendly and informal. I introduced myself to The Master’s PA, a woman in her thirties who was the model of modern professionalism. She asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee as I waited in her office. The PA’s office was connected to The Master’s office as well as having its own entrance. The Master’s office also had another door which led into the interior of the house. I accepted the offer of a cup of coffee (it was of surprisingly low quality) and made small talk as I waited nervously for the meeting. The Master was in a meeting with the Health Minister. Occasionally I heard loud and jovial voices from The Master’s office. The Master usually exuded bonhomie so this was not surprising. I was nervously watching the clock. We were running ten minutes late. I could feel my stomach starting to churn a bit. I started to sweat. But I maintained a relaxed appearance. This meeting could be of crucial importance to my career. All that striving might be undone, or at least, I could be put back a couple of years.
The PA’s phone rang and she answered.
“You can go in now,” she said pleasantly. “Take your coffee with you.”
I declined this offer, leaving the cup on her desk. I didn’t want the problem of dealing with such a complex prop during the meeting. I tried to get control of my nerves and headed towards the door. I knocked and received the reply.
“Peter – come on in.”
I entered The Master’s office. The Master was at his desk. Indicating the chair on the other side of the desk he said grab a seat. He gestured towards the chair as if anxious that I would not experience any inconvenience for a moment longer than necessary.
I sat down. On being admitted to the presence of The Master I immediately began to feel more at ease. There was an element of nerves disappearing once the game has started, but it was more than that. The presence of The Master was itself massively reassuring. It was as if I was in the place where nothing bad could really happen. This was the magical quality that The Master could communicate through the media. It was an innate quality, but also one he had worked hard to develop. The Master asked me how things were going. He seemed genuinely interested. I immediately gave in to the temptation to say that things were going better than they actually were. As I did so I was annoyed with myself but I was compelled to feel that I should be positive. The Master himself exuded positivity. We moved, seemingly effortlessly, to a discussion of the real subject of the meeting. No official agenda had been set. But we both knew what the meeting would be about. My enthusiasm for the proposed war with Turkestan was now becoming an embarrassment to the party. The diplomatic situation had recently changed dramatically.
The Master thanked me for my support in recent months. He and the party were grateful for the courageous way I had spoken out in favour of military intervention in Turkestan. My concern for freedom and democracy was admirable. The Master did not make any direct criticism of my stance. If anything he was full of praise for it. But he tactfully raised the issue of how we needed to rethink our policy in the light of new developments. He used the word “we” a lot. And why not? We were all members of the same party after all. We all had the same essential aims. We relaxed into a discussion of the present political situation in Eurasia. And it was a genuine discussion. Several times The Master paused to listen attentively to what I had to say. He even cut himself short a couple of times in order to listen carefully. Nevertheless, I was aware that The Master was subtly manipulating the situation to his own advantage, though it was difficult to say exactly how. It was like playing poker against a master: you knew you were losing and that you were going to continue to lose, but you couldn’t put your finger on exactly why.
We discussed, in rather elliptical fashion, the geopolitical ambitions of our major allies. In general our policy, though it was never openly stated in these crude terms, was to support the long term subjugation of the area to western interests. The subjugation was to be a three stage one. The first stage was diplomatic and military, the second stage was economic, and the final and conclusive stage was cultural and ideological. The overall policy was clear, but there were issues over timing and the detail of tactics.
At the end of the meeting everything was made clear to me. Party policy was no longer to support military intervention in Turkestan. I was to tone down my pro-interventionist statements, though of course the party was a democracy and I was free to say whatever I liked. At no point did I feel that I was being muzzled. The Master walked to the door with me and we exchanged pleasantries on the way out. The meeting had lasted no more than twenty minutes. I was relieved that it was over. The PA smiled at me on the way out. It hadn’t been too bad, though what hadn’t been said was in many ways more significant that what had.