Mr Letwin read the HR expert's memorandum again with dismay. "Under no circumstances" it stated, in 14pt bold, "are staff to retain 'In' or 'Out' trays on workstation horizontal surfaces in contravention of the Department's clear desk policy". The minister had already been forced to hide his red box in a cupboard, stuffing it as full as possible with the pile of ministerial correspondence that fouled his workstation horizontal surface (the term desktop, the IT people had declared, was reserved for the vertical computer screen). His permanent secretary seemed to have no difficulty in maintaining a clear WHS, so why was he burdened with paper? Letwin resolved not to be defeated.
The following day he arrived at the ministerial building just after 6am and made for the ministerial secretariat. His pigeon hole (or hard copy information distribution node) was crammed. Stuffing the papers and envelopes inside his overcoat and holding his arms across his chest, he nodded perfunctorily to the Nigerian security guard as he hopped down the steps and back out of the building. Dawn was breaking in St James' Park and the pigeon-eating Pelicans were yawning hungrily. As he passed a litter bin, Letwin discarded a report on NHS contracts for Kangaroo Meat. The following bin received a bundle of letters from arms lobbyists. He avoided the eyes of a dog walker as he dumped the minutes of the Wind Turbine Advisory Committee. As he rounded the Hydrangea Pool and crammed the last bundle of constituency correspondence into the bin beside a discarded White Lighting can he froze; just thirty paces ahead on the path was the terrifying figure of the Cabinet Secretary. Sir Gus was also frozen in a rictus of embarrassment. Then Letwin noticed the documents stuffed inside Sir Gus' coat lapels, and the handful of A4 documents clutched in his gloved fist and frozen above the mouth of a litter bin.
"Morning Gus" he called "brisk out today"