“Kevin, I am going to recommend your release.” The parole officer picked up his pencil and snapped it beneath his nose. “Describe my face.”

Kevin was startled. “Your purple tie clashes with your ruddy complexion,” he said rudely. “You drink black coffee and eat a lot of meat with gravy and you don’t wash it out of your moustache. You think that you are tops with young lager louts but they think you are incredibly soft. You like to be with kids – pathetic! And you are an old Fred.”

“Good,” said the parole officer not at all riled. ”One of my names is Fred. Now it’s my turn. I see a tall youth of seventeen, spotty around your mouth, dirty flaxen hair and the most shifty criminal face that I have ever seen. No wonder you got caught after the stabbing.”

“My criminal life has ended.”

“My other name is Kevin, just like you. Look into my eyes and my nature changes. Perhaps I look simply earnest. I have an assistant, Aloysius - a computer genius. I know that you too are a potential brilliant cyber terrorist. We can use you.”

Aloysius!” hissed Kevin in alarm. “Your computer genius. You need me. Everyone is Kevin. Let me out of here.”

“Aloysius has broken into the Pentagon. He has earned millions using blackmail.”

“The yanks will have him,” murmured Kevin. “What’s this to me.”

Aloysius will never be caught. None of the family has been caught. We have a family member in the cabinet. Aloysius, real name … don’t twitch boy. Wait for it. It’s Kevin. You want to be free so that you can be truly wicked. The Hon Middleton, our home secretary, is Kevin as well.”

“You must be joking.”

“No! We are a wicked family. When two or three Kevins meet together in the name of crime, the arch criminal grants their request. All us Kevins were adopted, largely a coincidence. We will never, never be caught again. You are an incorrigible villain, as the judge said in fact a perfect Kevin.”

Kevin felt a lifetime’s unhappiness slip away. The dishonest leer vanished and he bloomed like a flower. This was the apprenticeship every lad yearned for. He could reach his potential with folk who understood him. He would never return to prison. He had a guardian angel and he would have respect and could kill again and it wouldn’t be an accident. You can never tell a man by his appearance. We can all wear masks.

“K is for killer,” said Fred. “E is for evil. V is for Vile. I for iniquity and N for notoriety. Comb your hair. You leave prison today. The lovely Lady Bracknell runs the most infamous loan shark business in Europe. She will find you a flat. Have a cucumber sandwich; they are in her handbag on the sill.”

“A handbag!” yelled a delirious Kevin. He loved cucumber sandwiches. “I have now realised for the first time the vital importance of being Kevin.”