MOLE HUNT: Behind the bamboo curtain
The man they * call Agent Maverick first appeared on my horizon several months ago, when Tamsin mentioned that Plane Stupid London had a mysterious new member calling himself Ken Tobias.
"He looks a bit like a cop," she said.
That could have been the end of Plane Stupid – how were we, a bunch of useless hippies, supposed to deal with a professional infiltrator? Things had escalated to a new and discomforting level – what had we got ourselves into? And how could we determine whether he really was a mole?
"Let’s feed him some false information and see if it appears in the Evening Standard," Rich suggested.
Amazingly, it worked! We’d found Maverick’s Achilles heel – the glaringly obvious. Now we would be able to exploit this fatal flaw to our advantage, but would our over-confidence prove to be our own downfall? **
After a month or two of putting up with this, Plane Stupid London were getting restless.
"It’s all very well having a pet spy, but we can’t actually do anything whilst he’s attending the meetings," complained Kat.
"Ah," I said "but Hollywood always says, revenge is a dish, no, hold on, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."
"We’re getting rid of him," said Tamsin.
So, two weeks later, I found myself behind the bamboo curtain, or screen thingy, in our local Japanese restaurant. As Tamsin waited for Maverick to arrive, I lurked behind my newspaper which, whilst rendered somewhat redundant by the bamboo screen thingy, I had brought along anyway in deference to tradition. Tamsin asked Maverick for ID, but in a stroke of absolute genius he claimed to have lost his wallet. How on earth were we ever going to uncover his true identity now? Our cunning scheme had been well and truly foiled – or so I thought.
"Can you bring us your passport tomorrow?" asked Tamsin.
"Er, yes," he said quickly. "Um, actually, no, it’s at my mum’s, so I can’t get it for tomorrow."
Maverick’s razor sharp mind was adapting his cover story to the rapidly changing scenario with the agility of a panther. He had escaped with his secret intact, but for how long? Like a cornered animal, he was at his most dangerous – what had we blundered into?
"I can get you a letter from my tutor at Wadham," he said.
At last, his secret weapon. A letter from his tutor at Wadham College, Oxford University, would well and truly call our bluff. But then, just as the darkest hour comes before the dawn, a shaft of inspiration came to us. We emailed someone at Wadham his photo.
"Toby Kendall, Oriental Studies, 2003-2007," they replied.
This was it, our big lead, and we were going to hunt him down and expose him to the world – it was our duty to make the planet safe for hippies once more. Bebo gave us our first breakthrough. Toby Kendall's favourite film was Top Gun.
When we’d stopped laughing, we followed the internet trail to the career networking site Linked in. My fellow agents (OK, we’re not really agents, but we were pretending to be agents at the time) began to have their doubts.
"Even our Maverick here isn’t going to put 'career = spy' on the internet, how stupid do you think this guy is?" said Joss.
"It’s our final chance," I said, "it’s all we’ve got." With that, I took our last desperate click of the mouse. Had the trail run dry? Would we have to admit defeat?
Maverick was an ""analyst" for "C2i International".
"Mysterious," we thought, "but who are C2i? What do they do? Will we ever know?"
"Security and Investigations industry", said Toby’s Linked in profile. ***
"Clients include governments and the Aerospace industry", said C2i’s website.
"Thank you," said the man from the Times. "I'll run your story and show everyone how stupid Toby and his paymasters really are." ****
* "They" in this context refers to me and my mates.
*** While Plane Stupid tries to avoid product endorsement, Linked in is the most informative careers networking website any of us have ever seen. (and the only careers networking website any of us have ever seen). We wholeheartedly recommend it to all Human Resources Managers who are concerned that their latest applicant may in fact be an international man of mystery.
**** He didn't say that exactly. It was more like, "It's Sunday. Leave me alone and I'll write your stupid article."