i Editor's Letter: I'd make for an awful spy... or adulterer


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The Independent Online


Apparently I am the last person on the planet who did not know the trick, “widely used by terrorists, spies and adulterers”, of using a saved Gmail draft in a shared account to avoid detection of an email trail. Apparently, that’s what General Petraeus and his mistress/ biographer Paula Broadwell did. Who knew? Certainly not me.

The General Petraeus “affair” is a story that keeps giving. Each day brings revelations even more outrageous and “far-fetched” than the day before. It holds that crucial element of tragedy: a great man laid low by hubris. But, it’s a plotline that the TV series Homeland would reject as ridiculous.

Didn’t we all fancy being a spy? Most Brits probably got the urge from watching a Bond movie. It was either that, or the Foreign Office: endless Ferrero Rocher and cocktails in exotic locations.

Age plays tricks with my failing memory, but I recall an interview at the latter. It didn’t go well. The pauses were Pinteresque. I put it down to my dodgy Christian name and no Oxbridge. In truth it was probably just poor grades and their seeing through my utter ignorance of what the job entailed. 

I’d make a terrible spy. I’d crack at the first hint of Britney Spears on a 24-hour loop, let alone waterboarding or electrodes on my nipples. If someone else is guilty it shows on MY face for no reason other than I had 14 years of Catholic education. I’d fall for every Mata Hari, and I am the worst person I know at cryptic crosswords – let alone encrypting and deciphering nuclear submarine data.

No MI5 or CIA for me then. But, there’s always applying to the FBI? Whaddyamean, can you have a photo of me shirtless?