Spies On Saturday

12:35 pm in Featured, Reviews by EVNT

By two o’clock in the afternoon paranoia had begun to fester. “The other two. They’re not real,” hissed one of my fellow spies, as we skulked around the rear of William Gladstone’s townhouse. “They’re too… forthcoming with their backstory. They’re double agents!” For a second I allowed the thrill of duplicity to linger. Perhaps this rather nice, ordinary-seeming couple were in fact excellent character actors; their occasional flashes of tension a part of a cunningly intricate double-act designed to lure us into a false sense of camaraderie. Yes, they were charming, easy conversationalists, quick to furnish us with details of their life. But we were all on the same team, weren’t we? Spies on a fact-finding mission across London? “They’d have to be very good actors,” I said, doubtfully. My friend (henceforth known as “Agent R”) pressed the point. “No-one is that real. Not even real people are that real.”

***

Hours earlier, Agent R, Agent RJ (her partner) and I arrived at a Top Secret Location in central London. Assembled around us were groups of fellow recruits, yawning at the early Saturday morning start. Upon our arrival, our team was complete – we were seated at a table with the aforementioned innocuous couple, who were full of puzzle-solving enthusiasm. “Do you do this kind of thing often?” he asked, excitedly. “This is our first time!” she followed, beaming identically. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Agent R’s eyes narrow.

Suddenly, M stood up and addressed us. Our mission was straightforward. We were to journey across London, solving clues and sniffing out rogue agents. We would be pan-London adventurers on an MI5 Treasure hunt. Our progress would be scored, marked, noted – prizes were at stake. Most critically, we were to ensure that our group arrived at the Safe House at the designated time, the location of which we would discover along the way.

This was a seemingly simple mission, our team agreed with a sly smugness. However, in practice it proved fiendish. When we poured the contents of our pack on our table, we realised that the locations we had to visit were scattered across London. The puzzles were location-specific; there were to be no sly internet solutions. So, we assigned roles – and set off into London.

What ensued was a hectic yet entertaining maelstrom of facts and fact-finding. Our team whirled across central London, scrutinising buildings and responding to quick-fire challenges from Q via text. As a non-native Londoner, I felt myself being tacitly educated about the city. However, this was no mere spy-treasure hunt; at pre-arranged times, we met M’s Agents, quizzing them in an effort to discover which of the three had gone rogue. Our Team had stepped so far into the world that we developed a befuddling interrogation system for M’s Agents, designed to sniff out which of the three was peddling secrets to the KGB.

***

At 3.30 PM, we burst into the safe house, exhausted, paranoid and satisfied. As the other teams arrived in dribs and drabs, the couple drifted off to the bar. “They were real,” said Agent R, with surprise. A collective sense of disappointment settled upon the group. Perhaps it is a testament to the light-hearted thrills of Spies on Saturday that the only moment of disbelief came from the realisation that some people really are… that real.

Nick Moran