how to be a spy

The resurrection of national heroes can be a risky business. As Pierce Brosnan (right), breathing new life into James Bond, may find when Goldeneye opens across the country tomorrow. But some things just don't change. Q, for example, Desmond Llewelyn's old inventor, who will be called upon to give Bond his techno-briefing. Ejector-seats, torpedo-tipped cigarettes and pen-grenades remain the order of the day.

As you trudge home, you may be thinking it's all fantasy. A multi-million- pound romp in wonderland. But not if your way home takes you past Portman Square in the West End of London. I don't know whether Q or Pierce Brosnan have ever been this way, but there's a shop called Spymaster, which is a must for any budding spy. Here, you can make your every 007 fantasy come true. So how about a Bond girl?

But it was strictly business first, as I asked Michael Marks, the director of Spymaster, how he would fix up 007's briefcase for mission impossible. Tip- toeing past bugs which can pick up a whisper at four metres, we went down to his office. I politely refused a cigarette... you never know. Then we got down to business.

If the unthinkable happened, and Q went AWOL, Spymaster could step in to issue 007 with a fully-equipped communications system: a briefcase terminal, providing worldwide phone and radio contact. This includes an encrypted receiver and transmitter - you never know who's listening in. Bringing the information back to base need not involve any particularly compromising activity. Built into a small stud on the side of the case there is a 2mm camera, and Bond could have a watch to take still photographs.

Spymaster is not a shop you should ever think of shoplifting from: it's full of these crafty hidden cameras. One of them, the most mind-boggling, is disguised as a small dot between the numerals of a clock.

Should the case fall into the wrong hands, it would self- destruct. And if things got really bad, Bond could use his Emergency Position Indication Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which gives his exact location to military satellites, ensuring his return, shaken but not stirred.

So there it was in front of me. A small case, packed with everything a spy could possibly need. But just as I was planning my first assignment, Mr Marks dropped in the price - pounds 20,000.

How about something more down to earth? Like the man who suspected his girlfriend of having an affair. Spymaster staff advised him on the bugging devices he could use. A couple of days later, he returned red-faced, having found three of them at home, where she had been keeping an eye on him.

Spying on lovers accounts for a small percentage of Spymaster's work. The shop deals mainly with businesses and government agencies. With the cold war over, the majority of espionage is industrial. While Spymaster sells the hidden cameras and bugs necessary for surveillance, they are more concerned with counter-surveillance - for example, checking premises for bugs.

Unfortunately, some of the most interesting devices in the shop can't be sold to the general public. These are "restricted user products": equipment used by government and law enforcement agencies, like the computer which can listen in to mobile phones in the area.

If you must know, I had a quick listen. But all I heard was a couple of nutty lovers calling each other "squidgy".

Spymaster, 3 Portman Square, London W1 (0171-486 3885)

Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
film
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform