I finished that piecemeal re-read of Pratchett & Gaiman’s Good Omens last night, on the grounds that reading the fat in-progress three-volume omnibus at bedtime was just asking for trouble (I tend to lose track of time. . .). I still don’t quite understand why, when I first read this, it didn’t quite work for me. It certainly does now.
Someone called A Spokesman sounded close to hysteria [on the radio].
“. . . danger to employees or the public,” he was saying.
“And precisely how much nuclear material has escaped?” said the interviewer.
There was a pause. “We wouldn’t say escaped,” said the spokesman. “Not escaped. Temporarily mislaid.”
“You mean it is still on the premises?”
“We certainly cannot see how it could have been removed from them,” said the spokesman.
“Surely you have considered terrorist activity?”
There was another pause. Then the spokesman said, in the quiet tones of someone who has had enough and is going to quit after this and raise chickens somewhere, “Yes, I suppose we must. All we need to do is find some terrorists who are capable of taking an entire nuclear reactor out of its can while it’s running and without anyone noticing. It weighs about a thousand tons and is forty feet high. So they’ll be quite strong terrorists. Perhaps you’d like to ring them up, sir, and ask them questions in that supercilious, accusatory way of yours.”
“But you said the power station is still producing electricity,” gasped the interviewer.
“How can it be doing that if it hasn’t got any reactors?”
You could see the spokesman’s mad grin, even on the radio. You could see his pen, poised over the “Farms for Sale” column in Poultry World. “We don’t know,” he said. “We were hoping you clever buggers at the BBC would have an idea.”