When I got off the phone the Chesterfield sofa (the dead woman’s boss)was standing over me.
“I’ve called the whole team to the meeting room so you can talk to them.” He said.
The meeting room was even more beige than the rest of the place. It was a little too small for the furniture which was institutional and slightly warped. Well I say slightly. If you’d dropped a pencil on one end of the table it would have still been accelerating when it rocketed off the other end at a thirty degree angle.
The entire team were arrayed round the table staring back at me. I looked at each face as the Chesterfield sofa introduced them but I couldn’t tell you their names. I couldn’t hear him over the clanging sound of the closing ranks. I knew I would get nothing from these people. Or at least I would get nothing from them in front of each other. If I could just get one or two of them alone in the presence of alcohol or even a half decent cup of tea then I might hear something approaching the truth.
“I want you all to know that the Home Office takes the death of any local government employee very seriously. If any of you have any information about this, no matter how trivial it may seem I want to hear it. If you have any suspicions I would like you to pass them on to me.” I said. I waited. No-one said anything. I waited some more. They began to shift in their seats. I didn’t blame them. The seats looked pretty uncomfortable.
Eventually one woman said, “We’ve already told everything to the police.”
That was my cue to pounce. “Really? You’ve told them everything? Everything they needed to know or just everything they asked about? Because I’ve been hearing that the police investigation has been downright shoddy. I’ve been hearing that the investigating officers referred to your colleague as ‘Just another bloody Social Worker’ and I don’t think that bodes well for the quality of the investigation.”
Suddenly the room seemed smaller. Now each woman around the table was sitting up properly and paying attention. They were angry and the glamour was loosing its grip on them.
There are three ways to beat a glamour. One is to spot it yourself. The second is to have it pointed out but that one’s risky as most people will assume that the person doing the pointing is mental. The third is to trigger the opposing emotional state.
Anger won’t do it for every glamour. In fact mob glamours usually manipulate anger and fear and more anger will only increase their power. A concealment glamour manipulates the human desire to not get involved. We all sometimes chose to ignore something because it might get us into trouble. You can’t ignore something if you are angry about it. Of course they still weren’t going to tell me anything yet but they were getting there.
I took out my pile of Department issue contact cards. Each one has my name, yPhone number, email adress, office phone number and an appropriately vague job title. I passed them out. I was glad to see that everyone took them. Most put them away in their diaries without really looking at them but one woman, at the back of the room and older than the rest, looked carefully at it then slipped it into her smartphone case when she thought no-one was looking. Oh she’s going to call.
Two hours later I left the building carrying the last box of papers and loaded them in the back of a Library truck that the Department had sent out. The team hadn’t spoken much but they had handed me the biggest pile of paperwork that I had ever seen in one place. There was barely room in the small truck for the driver. And this was just the actual paper. I dread to think how many bytes of data had been transfered to the Department’s Server farm deep under Whitehall. I was going to have to spend a lot of time digitising all this paperwork before any sort of analysis could be done on it.
Well you know what they say. If in doubt delegate.