Daily Report of Annek Dravess, Close Protection Agent to Lady de Lœngbærrow.

Local date: 3/6/200545.

Special Provision during Official Visit of Lord High President and First Lady to Elbrach Prime

8.59 am local time.

After breakfast in the Duke’s Palace, Madam announced her intention to visit the Einkaufsturm - the ‘shopping’ complex in the central city. This was an unplanned activity as the morning was meant to be spent viewing the Duke’s Regalia and Jewels in the palace museum requiring no extra security provision. My men and I maintained a discreet presence as ordered by the Lord High President, allowing the First Lady to visit this Einkaufsturm without overt security presence. This is absolutely against my expert recommendation. This complex has over five hundred thousand visitors every day and is a potential security risk.

Marion wasn’t really interested in viewing the crown jewels of the Duke of Elbrach. She had seen the British Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, and the saying, ‘when you’ve seen one crown, you’ve seen them all’ was apt. Besides, she had heard about the Einkaufsturm and really wanted to see if it was as good as the places she shopped in Liverpool.

It was certainly bigger than any shopping centre in Liverpool. It was considerably bigger even than the Trafford Centre in Manchester, though not in length or width – rather in height. The dramatic name meant Shopping Tower, though in both English and Gallifreyan as well as French, according to Rodan who spoke that language well, it meant Shopping Storm. The Elbrachtians obviously took their consumer speeding very seriously!

The Tower – or Storm! - was fifty floors high with a central rotunda from which it was possible to look up at the fifty galleries with glass balustrades protecting the shoppers from a long, deadly fall. Above that was a dome made from a single piece of diffused concave glass that let in natural light without the overbearing heat and uncomfortable glare, especially at midday.

The ground floor was the food court. Marion began her trip with a cup of coffee. To the Elbrachtians that meant a tall glass filled with hot, strong coffee and topped with a huge ‘scheibe’ – meaning a ‘slab’ or ‘slice’ of thickened cream. It was thoroughly delicious. Rodan chose the same, though she had the coffee sweetened with honey. Marion thought the bitter unsweetened coffee was just perfect drunk through the slowly melting cream.

8.65. am. local time

Her ladyship and the child accompanying her are drinking coffee on the ground floor of the shopping centre. No incidents to report, but the presence of so many ordinary members of the public who have not been vetted in any way is disturbing. I advised the Lord High President to arrange a private visit for the First Lady with the centre cleared of civilians, but he refused to countenance such an idea. Her Ladyship wished to have a ‘real’ shopping ‘experience’

After coffee, Marion and Rodan headed for the spiral escalator that serviced the first four floors. Ladies clothes were on that fourth floor After that a glass sided lift went to the higher levels.

Rodan, of course, loved it. She would happily have ridden the escalator all day if there were not dresses to try on. She liked the tight waists and wide flowing skirts of the Elbrachtian daywear. Fashions on Gallifrey at present leant towards the ‘Empire’ waist – in other words just under the bustline for ladies, and nowhere at all for a girl of Rodan’s age.

“If we appear at all the summer engagements in this style I think the fashion will soon change,” Marion said to her foster daughter as they tried on dresses with wide satin sashes at the already closely fitted waist. “We will only buy one dress each here. Rosanda can copy the style in her own way and so can our couturiere in the Capitol.”

Rodan agreed with that idea, though choosing one dress from so many was hard.

“That’s my fault,” Marion admitted. “When you were a baby I couldn’t go past a Mothercare without buying one of every dress in the shop.”

She laughed and so did Rodan. Besides, a dress came with shoes, gloves, a new handbag, hair combs and all sorts of accessories. There was plenty to buy even after the main purchase.

9.72. am.

The First Lady and child spent twenty-five minutes in the changing room of the clothing store where I was not able to maintain visual contact. This concerned me greatly. The potential for a kidnapping attempt is heightened in such a situation. I was forced to ask one of the female shop assistants to check that they were safe. Apparently it takes a long time for a woman to decide if a dress looks right. This sort of thing is not covered in Presidential Guard training.

After clothes and accessories Marion decided to look at the fine arts on floor twenty-eight. The glass lift was a peculiar experience. The floor and ceiling were polarised to allow the traveller to view above and below as well as all around. The journey was relatively slow so that the climb up the inside of the centre could be enjoyed to the full. Marion was a little nervous at first, but then she remembered standing at the door of the TARDIS in orbit around a maelstrom and realised that there was nothing to be afraid of in comparison to that.

The fine art department was a joy in itself, with paintings and sculpture by Elbrachtian artists on sale. She had bought many pieces of art last year on the extended tour of the dominion planets, and was keen to extend her collection. Almost every room in Mount Lœng House now contained at least one piece of offworld art and she had given unique gifts to all of her friends to decorate their houses.

“Horses!” Rodan remarked, pointing to a very lovely painting done in the style known as pointillism and somewhat resembling the work of Monet. Close up, the canvas seemed a jumble of colours, but from an optimum distance the impression of four horses running freely across a wide plain was clear enough. The sense of movement was captured perfectly by the artist. Rodan was immediately captivated.

“I wonder…” Marion remarked. “You’re never going to get a horse painting on Gallifrey unless Kristoph commissions it. I think we should buy that. It will look nice in the drawing room in your grandfather’s house.”

Rodan agreed that it would be beautiful on the chimney breast above the mantel, but that was also a reminder that she would be living in that house again by the winter Solstice when her grandfather was due home. Marion completed the purchase of the horse painting and moved on to look at some statuettes that would make suitable gifts for Lady Lily and Ainyetta.

10.67 am.

The visit to the art gallery was without incident, but the works of art bought by Lady de Lœngbærrow must be thoroughly checked for potentially harmful substances, explosives or espionage devices. I have therefore ordered that the parcels are taken to the guard quarters for examination before delivery to the Presidential Suite.

“We only have another two hours before we meet Kristoph for lunch,” Marion said as she and Rodan stepped into the glass lift again “But we MUST check out the exhibition floor. They have all sorts of demonstrations going on – weaving and spinning, chocolate making, leather tooling, all sorts of crafts. We’re spoilt for choice. I think we just have time for the filigree glass blowing, candle-dipping and spun sugar model-making.”

That was enough to command anyone’s attention. The multi-coloured glass blown and shaped into intricate details prompted a whole new collection of purchases for gifts and keepsakes, and so did the fabulous colourful shapes that a mere candle could be made into by the skilled craft workers.

But by far the most fascinating exhibition was that of the spun sugar makers. Anyone coming to this display might be forgiven for thinking they had strayed back to the glass blowers. It was hard to believe that the three foot high model of the Ducal palace in such intricate detail was actually made of sugar and water boiled until it was a sticky mass and then spun out into a filament and used as a modelling material.

All of the crafted models were amazing. Marion was especially impressed by a four-masted sailing ship with rigging as delicate as the hand-made lace made in one of the other exhibitions. It was breath-taking because of its so very ephemeral nature. None of these sugar creations would last more than a day before they fell apart. Most did not even last that long. They were commissioned as centre-pieces for dinner parties and banquets, to be broken apart and eaten with the dessert. The Duke himself regularly bought dozens of smaller creations like the delicious smelling pink and white flower baskets just as tasty treats for the Duchess and her friends in their afternoon Salon.

Marion thought that was just a little too ostentatious. She had plenty of money to spend on her shopping trip. She could have ordered a spun sugar replica of any building she could think of, from the Eiffel Tower to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral or the great Citadel of Gallifrey just for the fun of eating it piece by piece, but she didn’t. She was the wife of the Lord High President of Gallifrey, but she was also a girl from Birkenhead with a sense of proportion.

Besides, THAT much sugar wasn’t good for anyone. The Duchess was a plump woman who had to squeeze herself into a tight corset before she could wear a dress with any sort of waistline and even then parts of her squeezed back out again. That was a result of too many banquets with spun sugar masterpieces for dessert.


13.76 am.

Although there is no apparent or immediate threat, I continue to be concerned about the exposed nature of the glass lift in which Lady de Lœngbærrow has now travelled several times. A sniper could easily identify her within the lift even from a considerable distance. I would strongly recommend an enclosed lift, or, for preference, site to site transmat under control of the Presidential Guard in future.

“Mama,” Rodan said as they emerged from the exhibition halls and wondered what they should do next. “Can we ride the Himmelflugzettel back down to the ground floor instead of the lift?”

“The… what?” Marion understood the language of Elbracht perfectly well thanks to the translation radiation of the TARDIS she had travelled in so often, but even so the fantastic word himmelflugzettel would not resolve itself into anything meaningful for nearly half a minute.

Then she remembered a romantic evening in Copenhagen when she and Kristoph were first engaged and he would regularly sweep her away from Liverpool and her university studies to amazing places. On this occasion she was literally swept away on an equally exotically named contraption called the Himmelskibet – a swing ride in open seats that not only flung the riders out wide as it revolved, but rose up an eighty-metre high steel tower that eclipsed the trees in the Tivoli Gardens and even the spire on top of the Copenhagen City Hall.

The Himmelflugzettel was on similar lines. The thrill ride was situated on the very top floor of the Einkaufsturm. It had the advantage over its Danish counterpart of enclosed glass and steel gondolas for the rider rather than legs dangling in little more than a ski-lift, but it was twenty times higher above the ground.

Marion reminded herself once again that she had stood on the edge of infinity at the TARDIS door and stepped aboard one of the gondolas. She sat and fastened the safety belt over her lap, wondering what possible protection it could afford if anything went wrong with the contraption and sat back, looking out of the window. There were trees so far below they looked like bedding plants in a garden plot. People in the plaza around the shopping centre were like ants.

Then the Himmelflugzettel began to move. The gondola swung and she found herself looking at the blue sky above rather than the ground below. She was dazzled by the brightness of the sky even before the revolution of the contraption brought her into the full glare of the sun. But it was breathtaking all the same, and she enjoyed the experience, reminding herself constantly that the Himmelflugzettel had flown here for nearly forty years already – all the time that the centre had existed – and there was no good reason for it to go wrong while she was on it.


13.98 am.

I must register my extreme objection to the wife of the Lord High President partaking in high risk activities such as the riding of the ‘Himmelflugzettel’ without a security detail checking the mechanism for possible sabotage and prior vetting the ride operator. This was a very unsatisfactory situation and I must insist, in future, that such activities take place only after consultation with the Duty Commander of the Presidential Guard.

Marion and Rodan emerged from the Gondola with rather shaky legs and a feeling that the floor beneath them was still moving, but a sense of utter exhilaration and regret that the ride around and down the outside of the Einkaufsturm was over.

“That was a very interesting way of getting to the bottom of the tower,” Marion said. Rodan agreed. “We shall have so much to tell Kristoph over lunch.”

14.05 pm

Finally, the First Lady and child are in an official limousine being driven under escort back to the Ducal Palace. The unscheduled and unofficial visit is over without any unforeseen incident, but I must press upon the Lord High President the potential danger of repeating this exercise during this offworld trip.

Kristoph read the report of Marion’s security officer while he waited for his wife and foster child to join him for lunch. He smiled wryly at the anxious tone of it and decided to talk to that officer as soon as possible. Security WAS important. He knew that as well as any Gallifreyan knew it, but there was no need to be quite so paranoid. He was Lord High President of the High Council of Gallifrey, not of the United States of America!

Rodan came into the dining room and hugged him before launching into a rapid description of all the wonders of the Einkaufsturm. Marion came more quietly and told him about the spun sugar models. Rodan made a suggestion that made him laugh loudly for several minutes.

“No, my dear,” he answered. “I don’t think we could build a Himmelflugzettel on the tower of the Citadel. Gold Usher’s dignity would be utterly confounded.”