STAGE DOOR (punter and muso slang)

Always capitalised, the impresario's seat of government, an area roughly corresponding to Westminster. Although mention is made of "the palace", the centre of operations is the Barge, with its fear-inducing snuggery.

Chapter 1
The barmaid at the den always struck me as a likely consort of STAGE DOOR top brass. She invariably offered me coffee: black, fruity and freshly burr-ground. “Coffee?”

Chapter 8
The courier packet contained a laminated pass (red print on yellow ground) hanging from a STAGE DOOR lanyard, and instructions to be at Reception 404, the barge, at 2pm on what turned out to be a breezy, drizzly day in November.

I chose to stroll to the barge from the Grid’s Downton Street offices, through what’s generally referred to as central. The palace, along with the surrounding government buildings, connected by tunnel, were all bundled together under the euphemism the STAGE DOOR by anyone dealing with the impresario. Apart from this neighbourhood and the grander buildings reinforced with scaffolding and then swaddled in white, everything seemed redolent of light industry; acres of almost identical low-slung buildings with tin roofs and walls that looked prefabricated. Boarded-up shops and businesses provided evidence of the gradual shutting-down of services and the decline in anything that appeared to make life more bearable for the rest of us.