back to article Les unsporting gits! French spies BUGGED Concorde passengers

The Edward Snowden leaks might imply that electronic espionage is a relatively new innovation but an under-publicised story from the supersonic age bursts that myth, as well as highlighting the French as a major power in activities these days more closely associated with China and the US. Ed Wallace, director of incident …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And how is this surprising

    There is a long history of this and several very good documentaries. I do not recall which channel ran that particular documentary, but they had interviews with retired Caravelle pilots which flew the Paris Moscow route when it opened.

    They regularly carried electronic surveillance payloads installed by French special services and in some cases pretended to have a misunderstanding with air traffic control to go closer than they should to security zones above military installations in order to record AA radar activity and radio traffic.

    So nothing new here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And how is this surprising

      I think everybody would expect that the French were spying on the Soviet military. The surprise for many is that they were (and no doubt still are) carrying out commercial espionage against their own allies. I sat "for many" because certainly the UK security services made sure that large companies and those working in sensitive areas were well aware of the threat t posed by our friends across the Channel.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: And how is this surprising

        The surprise for many is that they were (and no doubt still are) carrying out commercial espionage against their own allies.

        Why? After WW2 the British government handed out captured German Enigma machines to its allies as useful technology to "help them secure their communications", without telling them that they knew how to break the codes. If Churchill was doing it to the French, what's so surprising about it being the other way around?

        All intelligence services spy on their allies, you'd be foolish to assume otherwise. Alliances change.

        1. Santa from Exeter

          Re: And how is this surprising

          Alliances change indeed.

          It wasn't really until the World Wars that the French were the Allies and the Germans were the Enemies.

          Historically, the English have fought with the Germans (and their predecessors) *against* the French rather than vice versa, and have had a pop at the French on our own as well.

          Except, of course, if You're Scots, in which case the French are the 'Auld Allies'

          1. AbelSoul
            Pint

            Re: Scots, in which case the French are the 'Auld Allies'

            As commemorated in this lovely Paris boozer.

          2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

            Re: And how is this surprising

            I'd add that Japan and Italy both sided with the Allies in the first World War - Japan from 1914, Italy from 1915 - both before the US in 1917. Yet, in the 1939 conflict, Japan and Italy were on the opposing side.

            Let's also remember that the USSR went from enemy at the end of the revolution into the 1920's, through to aggressive neutral in 1939 (Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and carving up Poland), to ally when the Nazis turned on them, to opponent in the Cold War until the collapse.

            Isn't diplomacy exciting? Less art, more soap opera.

            1. graeme leggett

              Re: And how is this surprising

              Japan was in formal alliance with the British (Empire) from early 1900s to stem the likelihood of Russian (Empire) expansion. The British having been playing "The Great Game" against the Russians in central Asia since the mid-1800s.

            2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: And how is this surprising

              Isn't diplomacy exciting? Less art, more soap opera.

              Who was it said that "diplomacy is the art of saying 'nice doggy' until you can find a rock" ? Will Rogers?

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: And how is this surprising

              Italy from 1915

              Only because they wanted the port of Trieste. Understandably the Austrian-Hungarian empire was not willing to pay with a chunk of its own territory. The entente, howeverwas okay with handing it over once the war would be won. Many poor Italians died horribly for the venality of their parliamentarians, and quite a few had to be shot by their own countrymen to improve the overall morale of the forces.

              Note that afterwards Mussolini was against Hitler and in an alliance with the British. Unfortunately the British decided that Abyssynia was more important than an alliance with Italy against the mustachioed one. Then the situation went pear-shaped.

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: And how is this surprising

        "The surprise for many is that they were (and no doubt still are) carrying out commercial espionage against their own allies."

        Countries are only Allies when it suits.

        World War 2, it suited Italy to be Allies with Germany to begin with, but then it suited them to be Allies with the UK etc near the end because that suited them better. Likewise, France were Allies to the US until the Afghanistan "war" when it didn't suit France.

        So yeah, if it's outside the theatre of war it's fair game.

        1. Yag
          Facepalm

          Re: And how is this surprising

          Likewise, France were Allies to the US until the Afghanistan "war" when it didn't suit France.

          French forces were in Afghanistan for quite some time. You probably mean the second war against Iraq, based on dubious evidences.

          Second, you sounds like GW Bush. Even if the french were not on this war, it doesn't means they were not allies any longer.

          1. Tom 13

            @Yag

            Anyone foolish enough to believe the French are allied with him will only learn otherwise when he discovers the knife in his back.

        2. graeme leggett

          Re: And how is this surprising

          "Italy to be Allies with Germany to begin with, but then it suited them to be Allies with the UK etc near the end because that suited them better"

          Basically because in mid-1943 with the Allies sampling the delights of Sicilian beaches, the Italians had realised the war had not gone according to plan and they had lost. Hence the sudden request for an armistice. That the Germans did not intend giving up their sunbeds on the Italian coast was a bit of a bother for the Italian nation as they still had to fight to push an invader out of their country - their former house guest.

          (rough précis - other histories are available)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And how is this surprising

      The motive was is always economic espionage rather than "national security" or "anti-terrorism."

      There, that was an easy one to fix.

      'nuff said?

      1. P. Lee

        Re: And how is this surprising

        War is the logical extension of economic policy.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: And how is this surprising

          More simply, War is the extension of politics when talking fails.

  2. Buzzword

    Economy of France

    This might explain how France manages to have a first-world standard of living while pursuing a second-world economic policy.

    (cue flames in 3... 2... 1...)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Economy of France

      Here are your flames.

      So, did you bring the sausages ?

      I have the Roquefort and red wine, of course.

    2. naive Silver badge

      Re: Economy of France

      This comment is a bit unfair. France is actually one of the few examples where socialism works. The French state does initiate and successfully finishes technologically ambitious projects, like Concorde, an incredible maze of high quality highways even up to an altitude of 1100m, TGV, a grid of Nuclear power plants unique in the world are just a few examples. Also companies like Volkswagen, in which the state of Niedersachsen has blocking votes, show that there are better ways than the Wall Street Way, focusing on short term gains for the happy few.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Economy of France

        like Concorde

        Crashed and burned

        an incredible maze of high quality highways even up to an altitude of 1100m

        Built by private companies who get 30-year leases from the government to collect the tolls

        TGV

        Massively subsidised by the taxpayer.

        a grid of Nuclear power plants

        Yes, central planning helps there, no need to listen to the NIMBYs

        You missed the 10% and rising unemployment, bankrupt heatlh service, unsustainable state pension scheme, and the least popular President in history.

        Socialism works? Don't make me larf.

        1. Yag
          Mushroom

          Re: Economy of France

          an incredible maze of high quality highways even up to an altitude of 1100m

          Built by private companies who get 30-year leases from the government to collect the tolls

          Not really. They were state built, and cheaply rented for 30 years to those private companies.

          Very cheaply.

          It was done 5 years ago, and those private companies already earned the cost back.

          Foul play from some on the executive branch is probable...

          French socialism used to work. Until the socialists were elected.

          French right wing are a bunch of self serving thieves, french left wing are a bunch of ideologic nutcases. See the icon about what they deserve.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Economy of France

            "Right wing are a bunch of self serving thieves, left wing are a bunch of ideologic nutcases."

            TFTFY

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Economy of France

            Not really. They were state built, and cheaply rented for 30 years to those private companies.

            Not so. Prior to 2000 the leases to the private companies covered construction as well as operation, the state paid almost nothing. Since then it's been a PPP (Public-Private Pilfering) arrangement where the state pays part of the cost. There have been recent deals where the length of the toll concession was extended in return for a price freeze.

        2. Scorchio!!
          Thumb Up

          Re: Economy of France

          "Socialism works? Don't make me larf."

          The French economy is in a parlous state. Hollande was warned that he was going down a cul de sac, and had to review his policies. Socialism does not work. It stifles the creative impulse, whether commercial, artistic, technical or scientific. There has to be a reason for an endeavour, but socialism does not supply an incentive. That's why collectives and the like fail, whilst business in a free market economy can work if done properly.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Economy of France

            "Socialism does not work". It's the word socialism that does not work, nor does the word capitalism.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Economy of France

            @ Scorcio - I suspect that all political and economic philosophies could be claimed to work if, as you phrased it, "done properly".

            Capitalism in the USA and most of Western Europe worked very well while tightly regulated by the State. Living standards in the USA grew for almost everyone during the post-War consensus. But once regulation becomes light touch we get catastrophic bubbles and the Devil take the hindmost.

            At the other extreme planned economies fail once the initial investments in infrastructure are completed.

        3. Hans 1

          Re: Economy of France

          So, one moment ...

          >>like Concorde

          >Crashed and burned

          27 years after GA, yes, because some American tin lost a few bits on the runway. Concorde was an incredible achievement at the time, cher ami, and still is pretty amazing, because nobody can make anything as good, even with today's tech - sad that Rolls Royce and hence the oil crises killed it off! The Russians, who had each and every plan of the beast, failed!

          >>an incredible maze of high quality highways even up to an altitude of 1100m

          >Built by private companies who get 30-year leases from the government to collect the tolls.

          Originally state-owned and state-operated, now, mostly operated by private firms because a pres thought it was a good idea to sell "the goose that lays golden eggs" to private companies (they actually bought the right to lease them - the fun thing is that the politicians in charge of the commission that decided this are unable today to say how much these private companies paid at the time) - private companies are better at ransoming the poor bastards we are over here!

          >> TGV

          > Massively subsidised by the taxpayer.

          Yes, however, think about all the economic growth it is bringing!

          >You missed the 10% and rising unemployment, bankrupt heatlh service, unsustainable state pension scheme, and the least popular President in history.

          High unemployment is not the state's fault, it is the French mentality ... HR think of a workforce like a puzzle, if the candidate does not fit in perfectly they prefer to wait two years until they find the perfect candidate (with EXACTLY the right education! if candidate has a diploma too many, speaks a language that is not needed, has a strange name, looks weird [ a scar on your face is enough], you're out of luck), too bad if they lose business in the meantime.

          Health care is not really bankrupt, the problem is, it does not get the appropriate funding because funds are diverted from healthcare to other posts. The pension scheme is in quite a state, indeed, I give you that.

          As for presidents, the last two have had the moniker "least popular president in history" - mainly due to the financial crisis and the fact that the last one, costing more than the Queen of England and selling off all the "win-makers" of the state to private companies.

          Socialism works, go and look at the Nordic countries in Europe. It does not work when you have officials spending public funds on luxury-ware or selling off all profitable state-owned assets ... all without anybody complaining ... was it in Sweden that an official got the sack for purchasing a chocolate bar at an airport with public funds ? In France, an unlucky official got a "warning" after spending 10 000 euro on boxes of cigars ... note that he only got the warning because it was leaked to the press and caused an uproar ... buying "haute couture" garments with public funds is encouraged, if not tolerated.

          As for the current president, although his party bares the name "Socialist Party", it is as socialist as the UMP, for my comrades on the other side of the sleeve, the conservatives or labour in the UK.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Economy of France

            Originally state-owned and state-operated

            Owned yes, operated no.

            Back in the 50s when the French government wanted to build autoroutes, it couldn't afford them. Instead it subcontracted the work to 5 companies, who had to bear the cost of construction in return for a 30-year lease to operate them as toll roads. The state remains the owner, but the concessions handle the finance, tolls + maintenance. 75% of the autoroutes today are still operated by the concessions.

            It's always seemed curious that in a "socialist" country which places so much emphasis on "égalité" the state organised the building of a parallel network of privileged fast roads that only those who could pay could use, everyone else having to stay on the old national roads, whereas in "capitalist" Britain the state replaced the national roads with free-to-use motorways. Do as I say, not as I do?

          2. Yag

            Re: Economy of France

            >> TGV, Massively subsidised by the taxpayer.

            Yes, however, think about all the economic growth it is bringing!

            Where? Does it offset the massive subsidies? not so sure...

            Furthermore, look at the sorry state of the other lines that lack subsidies. I won't even start about the RER mess (partly operated by the SNCF, partly operated by the local transit authority, a complete clusterfeek of failures and strikes)

            High unemployment is not the state's fault, it is the French mentality ... HR think of a workforce like a puzzle

            Nope, it's the work laws that are a puzzle. Hiring someone not perfectly fit for the job will prove catastrophic if he reveals being unable to perform properly due to the massive costs associated. I wonder why the HR depts try to minimize the risks...

            I guess we'll only agree on the corruption stance of the nordic countries. The latest funny fact is the french prime minister taking one of the official plane with two of his son in order to go see a soccer game in Germany...

          3. Tom 13

            Re: Yes, however, think about all the economic growth it is bringing!

            If it's subsidized by the state, that's not economic growth. It's a bubble that's probably only benefiting the corrupt power brokers.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Economy of France

          "like Concorde

          Crashed and burned"

          Only one in 27 years. And IIRC not only was Concord relatively close to end of life, hence the reluctance to spend money protecting the fuel tanks, but the debris on the runway that caused the deaths was dropped from an American aircraft. <conspiracy mode>And them damned Yankees were always jealous of Concord</conspiracy mode>

      2. graeme leggett

        Re: Economy of France

        "The French state does initiate and successfully finishes technologically ambitious projects, like Concorde"

        An Anglo French project - a culmination of separate endeavours by Bristol Aircraft and Sud Aviation (among others) through their subsequent merger (with state encouragement) into BAC and Aerospatiale, joined together as a treaty between UK and France.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Economy of France

      Good standard of living due to the country not being so overcrowded. They have less than half the number of people there (per miles squared) than we do.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The motive was economic espionage"

    And still is.

  4. Alan Johnson

    Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive. I am sure that the US does the same on a vastly larger scale. Whenever there is a significant national interest for any state it should be assumed espionage and possibly worse takes place.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      "Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive"

      Indeed. 40 years ago I worked as a physicist on one of the big MoD research sites. Our security briefings went along the line of "obviously the Russians are hot after military secrets, but the second worst bunch of spies are the Israelis who want anything that could be useful to their economy as well".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive"

        "obviously the Russians are hot after military secrets, but the second worst bunch of spies are the Israelis who want anything that could be useful to their economy as well"

        That comes across pretty well reading about the Eisenhower era.

      2. cray74

        Re: "Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive"

        "40 years ago I worked as a physicist on one of the big MoD research sites. Our security briefings went along the line of "obviously the Russians are hot after military secrets, but the second worst bunch of spies are the Israelis...."

        That's still the case in general. I work in an aerospace company and the briefings run to the effect of, "Keep an eye on the allied foreign customers," followed by numerous examples of 'lost' visitors turning up in office areas shortly before there's an outbreak of malware.

        I suspect actually spotting skullduggery by visitors will be more difficult than is suggested by the training films, though. I have yet to see a foreign customer show up in a turban or my infected inbox visibly sending emails to Beijing.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive.

      Yes, well, that's the default. For what it's worth, 'we' tend to a higher IQ: say, the top 5%. The majority believe what the Government tells them.

      1. Scorchio!!

        "Yes, well, that's the default. For what it's worth, 'we' tend to a higher IQ: say, the top 5%. The majority believe what the Government tells them."

        I'd like to see a cite for an empirical study providing support for your claim, do you have one?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'd like to see a cite for an empirical study providing support for your claim, do you have one?

          Yes.

          1. Scorchio!!

            "Yes."

            I'll believe it when I see it.

            1. Tom 13

              Re: I'll believe it when I see it.

              Nope. If he produces it, that just marks him as a government disinformation agent.

      2. breakfast

        Maybe the majority don't care because they don't handle the kind of information that might be interesting to the agents of international espionage. It's simply not their problem.

        And "them" in this case is pretty much "us" with maybe a very few exceptions among the commentardiat.

  5. werdsmith Silver badge

    "The Edward Snowden leaks might imply that electronic espionage is a relatively new innovation"

    Does anyone really believe that electronic espionage is "relatively new"?

    As long as there has been telephones, there has been eavesdropping.

    As long as there has been microphones there has been listening bugs.

    Sound waves inside a room cause the window panes to deflect, the soviets were transducing this deflection to audio from a distance using infra-red light in the 1940s.

    1. hammarbtyp

      As long as there have been telegraphs, there has been tapping...

      Electronic espionage is just an extension of the age old practices. For example Queen Elizabeth I security services would intercept sealed messages, copy them down and re-seal them.

      1. -tim
        Black Helicopters

        Industrial espionage goes way back.

        Espionage isn't just spying, but actively trying to adjust the outcome to help your side.

        One of the first published cases of espionage was when buyers were sent to Portugal to drive up the prices of cannon balls by out bidding the Spanish even if they bidders never bought anything. The result was the Spanish ended up buying inferior product at an inflated price. There was a book published in the 80s or 90s with "C" on its cover that described the details but I can't remember the full name of the book or its author.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sound waves inside a room cause the window panes to deflect, the soviets were transducing this deflection to audio from a distance using infra-red light in the 1940s.

      And, were it feasible, the East Germans would have been doing it to every window in East Germany. Thank god they're not around any more, eh?

    3. Scorchio!!

      Walsingham set the ball rolling, in service of the previous Elizabeth. Actually that's not quite true. It's an ancient art, practised by jays when covertly snooping on squirrels whilst the latter cache their acorns, other squirrels doing likewise, and on it goes.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: As long as there has been microphones there has been listening bugs.

      One might even claim there were listening bugs before the microphone.

      One they like to show off on the tour of the US capital is the spot where John Adams had his desk. The room being an oval, his desk was at one of the foci. His opponents desk just happened to be at the other one. So Adams frequently knew the details of the opposition plan, while he made a point of never having such discussions at his desk.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: As long as there has been microphones there has been listening bugs.

        I dunno if Walsingham, Elizabeth 1st, or John Adams activities really count as "electronic".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about the noise

    While I never flew on a Concorde, I understand from those who did (and survived) that they were actually fairly noisy beasts on the inside, much the same as most passenger planes are today. While I am not going to pretend to understand eavesdropping technology, I believe that at the heart of it is a pretty standard microphone, and they can easily be swamped by the wideband noise in a passenger cabin.

    I can believe that French intelligence agents tried to bug Concorde, whether they ever got anything useful for their efforts is something I find harder to come to grips with.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: What about the noise

      > I believe that at the heart of it is a pretty standard microphone, and they can easily be swamped by the wideband noise in a passenger cabin.

      Yes, which is why you have a *second* microphone which picks up ambient sound and then circuitry which inverts the waveform, thus cancelling out the background noise and making the voices much easier to hear.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What about the noise

      Sorry to spoil this article but the Concorde flew faster than sound and there was complete silece inside. Science is difficult indeed.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: What about the noise

        Oh dear, folks. Was a "Joke Alert" icon really needed for my post.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: Was a "Joke Alert" icon really needed for my post.

          Perhaps if you left it blank there would have been room for doubt. Putting the boffin icon up necessitates the downvote, because yes there are people out there stupid enough to believe it.

    3. breakfast
      Trollface

      Re: What about the noise

      The real problem for the French was that most of the people they were listening in to spoke English and using audio-only recording left no room for subtitles, so they had no idea what anyone was saying.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: "with feeds fed to a multi-track recorder,"

      Multi-tracks where huge in the 60s - in fact they where mostly huge in the 70's and 80's too.

      You beat me to it.

      "Hey, Pierre, slip this into an overhead locker, s'il vous plaît"

    2. toughluck

      Re: "with feeds fed to a multi-track recorder,"

      The article mentions the 1990s.

  8. Schlimnitz

    Of course they could have skipped the technology and just arranged to have one of their spies on the same flight...

  9. /dev/null

    "Concorde was a joint Anglo-French project that ran between January 1976 until ..."

    Actually... the Concorde project started in 1962, the first Concorde flew in 1969, and the first scheduled service was in 1976.

  10. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Anyone else alarmed

    about spies randomly loading secret packages of espionagey hardware into passenger aeroplanes as a matter of course? Just the weight! (And the number of spy agencies in the world...)

    We probably should think again about actual responsibility for the sadly remembered crash landing of Flight Every Goddamned One Of Them, including Wertherwings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anyone else alarmed

      Do you think they're made of lead or something? I doubt the weight is an issue.

      If I was concerned about anything it would be that if they have access to the planes they could load in a bomb for a false flag operation pretty easily. Want to invade Egypt? Let's set them up with a plane bombing with a design and components that make it look like it came from the Egyptian intelligence service or whoever you want to frame with evidence that points their way, whip up the US public thanks to a compliant media that no longer investigates anything for fear of losing access to government sources, and full steam ahead!

    2. Matt Piechota

      Re: Anyone else alarmed

      about spies randomly loading secret packages of espionagey hardware into passenger aeroplanes as a matter of course? Just the weight! (And the number of spy agencies in the world...)

      I doubt it was shadowy figures sneaking onto the tarmac and slipping stuff onto the plane. It was probably listed as some piece of equipment that the ground crews changed out a regular interval. "Hey Pierre, it looks like the navigation recorder timer shows that it needs to be changed, take it down to the locker and get a fresh one."

  11. x 7

    I can't imagine what tech secrets the Frogs would want from Westland......the only successful helicopter Westland ever designed was the Lynx, and the Frogs had a 50% workshare in that. Of the rest, they were either designs inherited from Bristol, Saunder-Roe, joint-ventures with Aerospatiale, or licence production from Bell or Sikorsky.

    The only novel technology they had was the Lynx monobloc rotor head - which never got used on anything else, and the advanced composite rotor blades, which became a dead end when the Canadians got in on the act with a better aerofoil shape.

    Before anyone mentions the EH101/WG34/Merlin.....theres more Italian input in that than UK. I don't think the GKN-built composite body structures are particularly secret now, or were then.

    As for the desire to keep Concorde flying, Rolls Royce were only too glad to see it dead. Don't forget the Olympus engines were a Bristol-Siddeley design, not an RR design, and were a continuous source of embarrassment in that RR were having to support a design they hadn't originated, couldn't match and didn't properly understand. When Wedgwood-Benn forced the industrial amalgamations in the 1960's he gave the control to the wrong aeroengine company. Bristol-Siddeley were by far the more competent and capable company

  12. Unicornpiss
    Happy

    Simple to check?

    Isn't one of the Concordes in a museum? Should be fairly easy to allow someone to check for traces of bugging paraphernalia. Surely there will be some wiring left over at least...

    1. Malcolm Weir

      Re: Simple to check?

      "One of the Concordes"? Most of them are.

      The Smithsonian annex at Dulles Airport has one of the French ones... but I believe that none of the aircraft were left in a flyable state, i.e. parts were deliberately removed after their final flight (in the case of the BA aircraft, partly because they couldn't keep all seven aircraft in flyable condition anyway). It would therefore prove nothing if you didn't find anything...

      Other French Concordes are at the museums at Le Bourget, Orly and Shinsheim in Germany.

      So, counting the one at Toulouse and the one at CDG, that's all the French ones (after they scrapped one in 1994, FFS).

  13. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Not an ideal eavesdropping environment....

    I wonder if they got any useful recordings.

    "We're aiming for the French vote."

    "Sorry? You're claiming a trench coat? Why? I though it would be the oil."

    "Tea tree oil? I suppose we could deal with that. In exchange for lumber?"

    "You want to change to the Humber? OK, I think we could do that."

    And repeat until the drinks trolley comes by again...

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