> On Thu, 30 Jan 1997, Philip H. J. Davies wrote:
> > On Thu, 30 Jan 1997, Jason Potapoff wrote:
> And Burnside said he would change the name to a less glamorous one if
> people started dictating to him what missions to take based on the name.
> That sort of suggests that the Sandbaggers is a somewhat official name.
> Maybe like the US's Green Beret or Navy Seals. But i've always thought
> that the Sandbaggers name was an informal one as opposed to an official
Actually, the series is pretty explicit on is colloquial nature.
Unfortunately, my email is here on campus and my tapes are back at the
flat, but I worked my way through them fairly recently; when Burnside
first tries to recruit Dickens into the section, she refers to it as the
'three man Special Operations Section, known colloquially as the
Sandbaggers' (or words to that effect), and at that point Burnside remarks
that he 'once tried to have the name changed'; I do recall Burnside's
offer to change the Section's title but I *think* he was refering to the
SO designation, not the nickname. Also, in 'First Principles', Herr
Torveg refers to the SO Section in terms very similar to those used by
Dickens. Of course, the final test is to check the tapes. I'll do that
when I have time, say after submitting the thesis this summer.
Just as a small point of UK government idiom, it would be entirely natural
for officials to refer to a section by its nickname rather than by its
official title; in government papers at the public record office, one
finds officials have a positive passion for writing around things. In
part it refers to a peculiarly British form of humour which involves
refering to things metaphorically or indirectly (in the good old
'classical education' days all sorts of latinate and literary
constructions would be used -- e.g. MI 5 references to 'our *transpontine*
friends', i.e. SIS who are housed on the south side of the Thames, lit.
across the bridge). In interwar papers, SIS is typically referred to as
'C's department', or just 'C', or 'Broadway' (the HQ was at Broadway
Buildings). Nowadays, one finds references to it as 'Century House' (HQ
from '64-'94) or 'Vauxhall Cross' (current HQ) in espionage ingroup
jargon. Likewise, GCHQ is often simply referred to as 'Cheltenham'. Part
of it is also the traditional informality of the senior British civil
service, where signifying membership of personal networks and being 'in
the know' is the organisational culture.
A similar tendency appears in Ottawa, referring to CSE (I think) as 'the
Tilley kids' because of their offices in the Charles Tilley building. In
the US, the CIA is often referred to obliquely just as Langley, just as
NSA is often simply talked about as Fort Mead.