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**Reposted from Imzy ... awaiting images**


Vacation Orders

The Chief and his fellow senior personnel are fed up with Klaus. He works too hard. He’s too ‘thorough’ – which is probably code for, “He’s a fanatic, and he’s over-critical of everyone who isn’t as fanatical as himself.”

They come up with a proposal to solve the problem, no doubt with a view to making their own lives easier. They need to get Klaus married off. They decide that first of all they will send him on vacation, where he’ll meet women. Then they’ll send him to his school reunion, where his old schoolfellows will talk about their families. They’ll also set him up with a pretty tour guide. Somewhere in all this, surely Klaus will meet the woman of his dreams?

Klaus, of course, can’t take his vacation orders at face value. He suspects it’s a top secret mission, so top-secret even he can’t be told what it’s about! The KGB, observing that he is leaving Bonn, also conclude that he is on a mission and start following him.

He dutifully goes to the school reunion, although he’s not enthusiastic. We learn that he was a hardworking student, but inclined to get into fights with the other boys. As he got older, he developed a reputation for defending weaker kids from bullies.

We also learn about his role in a big confrontation between their school’s football team and a rival team from across the river.

He visits Sister Theresa, whom he remembers as the kind young teacher who introduced him to fried potatoes. She remembers Klaus fondly, but their conversation doesn’t go well as he doesn’t like to admit that he still smokes and he isn’t married.

A phonecall from the Chief sets Klaus’s alarm bells ringing, so he calls Agent A who admits there was a conspiracy to get Klaus married off. Next minute, there’s a knock at the door: it’s a woman sent by the KGB to seduce him. Still angry from the phone call, and assuming she was sent by the Chief, Klaus sends her packing.

So instead, assuming the problem might be that Klaus has different preferences, the KGB sends a man – an Eroica lookalike – to make contact with him. Klaus knocks him out.

Vacation Orders gives us a good insight into Klaus’s formative years. His mother died when he was very young so he had no maternal influence. His father, a man with a military background, had strong ideas about hard work, honour and duty. Klaus went to boarding school at a young age, and we can see the early manifestations of “Iron Klaus” in his stern application to his studies, his fearlessness in a fight, his strength and endurance, and his strong ideas about what is right.

The absence of women during his childhood and teenage years – with the exception of nuns – probably explains some of his discomfort around women as an adult.


Midnight Collector

Dorian gets a tip-off that Sir Rex Price has died and his art collection is to be offered for sale at England Art. The painting that interests him most is The Young Shepherd, by Giorgione.

We learn that Sir Rex Price was a friend of Dorian’s father, and as a child, Dorian spent a lot of time in his house. It was there that he first saw The Young Shepherd, and fell in love with it.

Dorian’s mother disapproved of Sir Rex, and did not like Dorian to be around him. Sir Rex was part of the gay scene Dorian’s father embraced after Dorian was born.

When his parents divorced, Dorian’s mother took his three sisters with her and left him with his father, who had to sell their family home and move to a smaller place in Cornwall. Dorian was very sad that he would not be able to see the painting he loved so much any more.

So, Sir Rex made a deal with him. He promised to give Dorian The Young Shepherd for his next birthday, if Dorian would have sex with him. Dorian went through with his part of the bargain, but the painting that he was sent was not the original but a forgery.

He resolved to steal the painting, but he hadn’t yet developed sufficient skill, and was nearly caught.

Back to the present day, where we see Dorian preparing to acquire The Young Shepherd at last – but a new rival emerges: the young handsome oil-rich Salim al Sabaah. Dorian takes an instant dislike to him because he only appreciates paintings for their monetary value, not their intrinsic artistic value. (Sound like someone else we’ve met before?)

Klaus himself now turns up, bringing The Man in Purple to the art dealers to sell it. Dorian sees this as the opportunity of a lifetime: he can acquire both of the paintings he wants most. Unfortunately, Salim al Sabaah is also interested in both.

Learning by devious means that England Art plan to use the rivalry between himself and Sabaah to drive the price up, Dorian decides to enlist Sabaah as an ally – to use him now, and then defeat him later. At first Salim refuses, but he’s persuaded when he hears a recording of England Art’s scheme. (Picture below: Salim al Sabaah turns up to his meeting with Dorian without his Arab robes. He looks very sexy in black leathers, riding his powerful motorcycle.)

Dorian and Sabaah go to the auction, having agreed on a plan to split the Price Collection between them. Meanwhile, Bonham and the rest of the Eroica gang arrive in a specially modified London double decker bus, and steal the Price Collection paintings.

At this point, Klaus realises he doesn’t dare to sell The Man in Purple after all. His father is going to visit, and if the painting’s gone, there’ll be hell to pay. (Unafraid of just about anything else, it seems Klaus is just a little intimidated by his father.) So he calls England Art and gets them to return The Man in Purple to him – just in time to prevent it from being stolen by Dorian.

The story ends with Dorian missing out on The Man in Purple, but he now has the Giorgione he’s wanted since he was a boy. He’s also acquired a new enemy in Salim al Sabaah.

Our glimpse into his childhood shows us that his upbringing was very different from Klaus’s. Where Klaus’s father valued discipline and duty, Dorian’s father was self-indulgent, and encouraged Dorian’s early efforts at stealing. Dorian had a mother and three sisters, but his relationship with them looked uncomfortable, and all of them disappeared from his life when his parents divorced.

There are similarities, too. Both had a largely male-dominated upbringing – although of quite different kinds. Both were educated at boarding schools, so they both experienced communal living outside the family. Even as children, they were both strong personalities determined to live by their own rules.
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