There's no messing around with check in and departure lounges; we drive round to a gate at one side of the complex, show our warrant cards, and my chauffeur takes me right out onto the heliport and parks next to the ready room, then hands me over to the flight crew before I realise what's happening. It's not quite as loud as I'd expected, especially with the headset on, but as I've been led to expect something like being rolled down a hill in an oil drum while maniacs whack on the sides with baseball bats, that isn't saying much.
He grins sardonically then shuts the door on me and climbs in up front. indeed; instead I bury my nose in the so-secret reports on GAME ANDES REDSHIFT and try not to upchuck as the predawn London landscape corkscrews around outside the huge glass windscreen and then starts to unroll beneath us.
I say very clearly, then I whisper a special password to stop him from eating me.
Fred retreats back to his security cubbyhole or coffin or whatever it is you call it, and I cross the threshold of the Laundry.
It's dark — to save light bulbs, and damn the health and safety regs — but some kind soul has left a mouldering cardboard box of hand torches on the front desk.