From Hell to the Heavens
FHM Australia|October 2021
The curious case of Mr. F
Ian Kirke

According to Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” And who am I to argue with such a luminary? Little did I know that this piece of guidance would begin to prove itself on a scrap of paper. Nor, come to think of it, did I ever imagine that as a direct consequence I would be intimately exposed to the ‘perfect murder’ of an MI6 operative, the harrowing searches for hidden homicide victims, and eventually an uplifting spirit of adventure born out of the tragic death of a child.

The route from Dublin airport to County Mayo, in the Northwest tip of Ireland, meandered across some of the most stunning countrysides I had ever seen – lush open green fields dotted with the odd rustic dwelling, and lakes that shimmered like giant tears, surrounded by thick woodland. Alone in my hire car, I constantly stopped just to breathe it all in. Sightseeing was not, however, my intended purpose. It was the business of risk that had taken me to this incredible part of the world and keeping staffsafe at one of the most divisive locations, on behalf of a global energy provider, was my ultimate goal. Serious protestor activity coupled with local tensions had created a perfect storm of intimidation and potential violence, and my expertise was sought to better protect those working on the project.

Up early the following day along with other colleagues, I was chauffeured across a differing terrain – peatland stretched as far as the eye could see, with the flatness only interrupted by hardy bushes and stricken, weathered trees which at dawn resembled skeletal fingers pointing skyward. On reaching the coastline the vicious Atlantic waves battered the beautiful granite cliffs with unrelenting force and the ensuing rain made me squint, despite having donned protective gear from head to toe.

On the way back we called into a local pub, and as we walked in, I was immediately reminded of a scene from the film “An American Werewolf in London.” The hubbub was replaced by an ominous quiet. Did we Englishmen have some form of obvious vibe, or did we simply look out of place? An hour or so drive from the border of Northern Ireland, I had been briefed previously about the legacy of sectarianism. As I quietly, and swiftly, drank my pint of Guinness I was minded to conclude that this latent discord still bubbled under the surface.

It wasn’t long before we had gathered sufficient evidence to inform the client that a professional cadre of protestors had landed. The increased sales of plastic downpipes, typically used to manufacture ‘lock-on's (allowing protestors to securely harness themselves to, amongst other things, vehicles) and locals reporting an influx of unusual camping activity were the most obvious data streams. Overheard conversations revealed that some had traveled from abroad and were planning significant disruption to operations both at land and sea. The latter engaged with the deployment of The Solitaire, a 96,000-ton monster of a pipe-laying ship, with a crew of over four hundred anchored just off the rugged coast of Corrib.

The finances associated with the hiring of this vessel were simply staggering and every moment lost, due to any form of interruption, was colossal. My area of responsibility was straightforward, and a training plan was readily agreed upon.

At dinner that night, tucking into the best quality steak in town, there was no better way to while away the evening than by shooting the breeze about the good old days with my colleague Merv, a former boss in the police, and silver commander at the notorious Newbury Bypass in rural Berkshire. This policing operation had seen the birth of domestic eco-extremism, where protestors had literally buried themselves deep underground to thwart the construction of the carriageway. The mere thought of locking myself in such a subterranean hell, let alone trying to safely remove someone, brought back my own anxieties of claustrophobia. I steered the conversation back to the present day and the issues relating to the sea, an environment that made me feel equally uncomfortable, especially following my own experiences earlier that day, as the force of the ocean showed zero respect for the sanctity of human life.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

SMALL INTIMATE MOMENTS

PHOTOGRAPHY OFFERS ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE IN THE WORLD WHILE I ALSO FLOATING OUTSIDE IT. WHEN I AM IMMERSED IN MAKING CANDID PHOTOGRAPHS, I SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY MOMENTS THAT I WOULD OTHERWISE MISS." - REBECCA ROTHEY

2 mins read
Lens Magazine
November 2021

general hospital

MISSED CONNECTIONS Esme inwardly fumes when Spencer congratulates Trina on the success of the opening.

3 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
December 06, 2021

WORKING FROM HOME IS JUST THE BEGINNING

What does the future of work really look like? In their new book, journalists ANNE HELEN PETERSEN and CHARLIE WARZEL argue that we’re at a moment of staggering potential—if we’re only willing to broaden our imaginations.

5 mins read
Entrepreneur
December 2021

HARRY & MEGHAN ARE NEIGHBORS FROM HELL!

Fat cats fleeing California town as tacky royals set up shop

2 mins read
Globe
November 22, 2021

GH PREVIEW: WHO WILL SURVIVE ON CASSADINE ISLAND?

Life-or-death drama is nigh as the citizens of Port Charles face their fate in Greece.

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
November 29, 2021

THE TOP 12 STORIES OF 2021

THE DEATH OF PETER MCGOUGH

10 mins read
Muscular Development
December 2021

Peter Gelb – The Divo

All of Peter Gelb’s big problems running the Metropolitan Opera only got bigger during the pandemic.

10+ mins read
New York magazine
November 8 - 21, 2021

BAD COMPANY

FOUR SOAP VILLAINS DISH ABOUT THEIR EVIL ON-SCREEN WAYS

10+ mins read
Soap Opera Digest
November 08, 2021

MURDAUGH MURDER SQUEEZE PLAY!

Patriarch charged in new swindle as law probes role in wife & son killings

2 mins read
Globe
November 08, 2021

Y&R'S MICHAEL MEALOR AND HUNTER KING ON “SKYLE” RETURN

Michael Mealor and Hunter King have similar sentiments about reprising their roles as Y&R’s popular Kyle and Summer.

5 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
October 18, 2021