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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
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.

    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn