In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself
I’m sure you’re thinking that this sounds like something so ridiculously unlikely that it’s really not worth dispensing advice on the matter. And until recently I would have been inclined to agree with you. However, I am beginning to suspect that this has, in fact, actually happened to me.
It all began in September when I started working for a company called.. actually, my first piece of advice should probably be: if you discover that you have accidentally become a spy do not tell everyone on the internet who you work for. So let’s just call them “The Company”.
Ok, so I arrived for my first day of work with “The Company” and was taken inside and led to the top floor by a woman with an accent of indistinguishable European origin. Incidentally, if you’ve ever seen an episode of Spooks then I’m sure you’ll be aware that the headquarters of MI5 are in Thames House. Well, it should probably be piece of advice number 2 to say that if you accidentally become a spy then you should not tell the world where your office is located. But I will say that my new office is in [blank] House.
Once I had been shown my desk and vaguely introduced to all the other people busy in the act of making it appear to be a perfectly normal office, I was informed that we had to wait for raw data to arrive from Moscow. It was at this point that I started to become slightly suspicious that I may have unwittingly got myself into something a tiny bit beyond my capabilities.
But I did what I was told and waited for whatever was going to arrive from Moscow – really, what else can you do when you seem to have somehow found yourself in a room full of secret sleuths? In fact, that’s piece of advice number 3: once inside agency headquarters pretend you know exactly what you’re doing and don’t do anything potentially subversive or controversial – they might think you’re a foreign mole.
Well, when Moscow obliged and sent over this “data” I became even more convinced that I had unwittingly become a member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Obviously I absolutely cannot tell you what it contained.. but it may have possibly involved a few references to things like “Russian government” “pipeline projects” “Kyrgyzstan” and “nuclear power”. Maybe, you know, or not, whatever.
So now every week I have no option but to return to the cunningly disguised [blank] House to decode this “data” into proper English, turn it into a company-approved format, and send it out to all sorts of people. If I told you who then I’d probably have to kill you or something, so in the interests of national security and your own well-being I’m sure we’d all rather I kept quiet about that. Except that I may have already told my flatmate. And a few other people. I got quite excited about it. Oh dear. So that’s piece of advice number 4: if you decide to carry on being an accidental spy for as long as it takes them to realise you’re an imposter, don’t tell anyone who you’re supplying intelligence to.
I’m certain that they are going to very quickly realise that I am not proficient at any kind of subterfuge. I can’t even sneak up on anyone because my ankles click. I am slightly concerned about what might happen to me when they find out that they have made a terrible error and hired an English literature student rather than a highly trained government operative. While I’m sure I have some transferable skills, I don’t think being able to quote lines from Love’s Labour’s Lost, or make correct use of there, their and they’re, is going to be particularly helpful in the event of some sort of international incident.
So I’m rather hoping that they don’t find out that I don’t actually have the correct level of security clearance to be allowed access to all of this intelligence stuff. Which leads me quite nicely onto my last and final piece of advice, number 5: if you do accidentally become a spy then absolutely, definitely, unequivocally do not write a blog about it.
The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.