Friday, 16 September 2011

Spies like us

I want to talk to you about your retirement from the service.

Retirement is certainly a favourable way of describing what amounted to a forced ejection, rather in manner one might downplay the explosive emission of a cannonball as being “dropped” .

I'm not here to apologise, but appeal to your sense of duty.

I hadn't imagined otherwise, you know me as well as any transcribed account. Taping. Third party conjecture. Stories. Legend. Chinese whispers. And what as to the motivations of those who decant the white noise of static into your eager - and I mean no offence - "green" lobes? The great game. Slight of hand. Pick a number. Choose a card. Motivations hidden behind mirrors and the cigar smoke of poker table tactics?

They said you were the best.

Flattery is the doyley beneath my coffee cup. I don't drink from it. In any case, “best" is an epithet most safely placed after the hindsight of “was the” ... not forgetting charm and false flattery is often a prelude to the strong arm of compulsion by blackmail or brutality.

We want you back in the fold. There are events, according to the wise, best viewed from the outside. By outsiders. Outsiders that once looked in.

So what token of temptation do you bring to my table?

The opportunity to make a difference.

To one who tried and faced indifference?

Indifference was a rock you once didn't mind pushing up the hill to spite the conventions of gravity.

And as for yourself?

That is not at issue.

But it is. You always.

I knew this wasn't going to be easy.

Really? I doubt you would come to me without focus group trialled bait. Don't confuse statistically based confidence for competence.

I'm only interested in what gets the job done.

Well, you shouldn't, unless you are willing to rely on the occasional accident. The complacency cook of results fostered in the broth of utilitarian kitchen-spoiled conceit.

There will be kills.

Not all information is heart-stopping.


As you no doubt know, I quit a while ago.

Delusions of eternal life?

No. My habit is to occasionally break habit. Trade craft.

Mind if I spark up?

Go ahead, if not now, compulsion will tell later.

They say more addictive than heroin. Then at least a refresh?

Since you offer, gin and tonic; ice, lime not lemon.


Tolerance, tried and tested.

But you are still open to persuasion?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a spy in possession of a credible source is in want of an assignment.

So I simply supply my credentials?

It's a start. You can begin by lying about your real name; a slight pause is more convincing than the immediacy of a trained reflex. Unguarded spontaneity.

Don't make it easy.

Or too hard.

Let's drop all pretence.

If I was thus inclined, you wouldn't be talking, but carrying me on your shoulders.


  1. I haven't read yet but I was hoping your absence meant something good was on the way.

  2. Non, no, nothing special, just something inspired by watching the trailer to the new adaptation of the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

    Gary Oldman is an amazing actor. Also well worth checking out Alec Guinness in the original BBC tv series.

  3. Saw the film yesterday - suburb acting all round - repressed emotions emerge only in minute movements in the face. Nice homage Natetin

  4. Well it's still got some of the best exchanges yet...some of it seems better suited for delivery than a reading. Not surprising I guess.

    Anchor Down!