IT’S coming up to a year since I first met Joseph.

I had been briefed of course, all terribly top secret, but when I entered his room I had no idea what to expect, this was new territory for me – and for everybody else of course.

THEY called him The Enabler. Joseph had walked into a police station in Bristol and told the desk sergeant that he could ‘enable’ villains to mend their ways, simply by acting as a physical conduit between the criminal and his or her victim.

By holding hands with both parties, he said he could enable the criminal to ‘experience’ the trauma of their victim. He claimed it was so real, so powerful, that they were overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and would  vow never to offend again.

The desk sergeant told him to “sod off” but Joseph continued to return with the same pledge. Eventually he became such a pest that he was deemed to be mentally ill and committed to a psychiatric institution for assessment.

He had been there less than a day when he encountered an inmate who was attacking a nurse and his ‘gift’ was spectacularly demonstrated. After a series of tests, astonished psychiatrists concluded that Joseph could indeed enable criminals to repent.

Offenders of all descriptions were released and monitored and it soon became apparent that Joseph was indeed a very special individual.

“SIT down Paul, peruse the menu dear chap.”

John, at least that’s the name he gave me, was apparently someone high up in an obscure elite branch of the secret service that even me with my contacts, couldn’t trace.

My name is Paul Stephenson, you may well have seen my name in the ‘quality’ newspapers, the ones that cover politics and current affairs in great depth and analysis or on TV,  Question Time, Newsnight, or BBC Radio 4, that sort of thing.

I’m a political journalist of long standing and as such I know plenty of people in high places. So when I was  approached by John whilst strolling along Whitehall and invited for lunch at a nearby exclusive gentlemen’s club I presumed it was for an off-the-record briefing.

John looked the archetypal civil servant, blue three piece pin-striped suit, immaculately knotted tie with an ‘old boy’ emblem of a posh public school and very expensive looking silver cufflinks. He sported a gold watch on a chain which dangled from his waistcoat pocket. John looked in his early 40s, and although his hair was totally white, he  had distinctive black eyebrows which made him very similar in appearance to the former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling.

However, he was a mean, nasty bastard and quickly cut to the chase.

“You’ve been a very naughty boy Paul haven’t you?” There was a smile but it was streaked with menace.

A raised eyebrow was my only response, I wasn’t quite sure what he was on about but he quickly filled me in, oh yes indeedy.

“You’ve been shagging the Foreign Secretary’s wife, you little scally,” said John as he twirled the watch chain around his finger.

“I…”

He put his finger to his mouth. “Sssh. I talk, you listen. I’ve spoken to Olivia, she understands the way of the world. It’s got to end, and end now. It won’t go public, we won’t let it so you don’t have to worry about your dear wife and your three gorgeous children finding out. Likewise the Foreign Secretary, and his two little cuties, will also not get to hear about your tacky little adventure.

“And, this is the best bit, you’ll be glad to hear that we are not going to do what we are so very, very good at. We’re not going to ruin your career, your reputation, your finances or, in the worse case scenario, whisk you off to a secluded wood somewhere and make it look as if you’ve topped yourself. No, rest assured, we are not going to do that.”

By now I was shaking so much that the maitre d’ came over to ask if I was all right. John assured him that everything was fine, that I was just recovering from a bad cold.

Olivia and I had been so very, very careful and were convinced that no-one, absolutely no-one, knew about our affair. I know it was stupid, reckless and totally without consideration for our loved ones but it was also exciting, passionate and something neither of us had been able to resist. But now there was a price to pay.

“In return, there’s a little favour I require from you,” he said before informing me that he had decided to order the fish for both of us.