Real spies

During the early 1980s there were a number of superstar journalists in the area of microcomputers and home technology. They did a fantastic job of driving public awareness. People like Guy Kewney and Dave Tebbut. And I was quite friendly with them, which worked both ways. I told them what was happening inside the UK industry and they told me lots of background to news events.

One of the journalists I was friendly with was Jerry Saunders, who was a linguist. Every year he learned another language. Previous to journalism he had been a spy. Working at GCHQ in Cheltenham. He had resigned in disgust after the Falklands war when he had been at the centre of the work to tell the British military commanders and politicians what the junta had been eating for breakfast. The reason he resigned was typically British. After the Falklands all the wrong people at GCHQ got promotions and honours and all the right people didn’t.

Roll on 20 years and I am talking to another British GCHQ spy. This time in Cheltenham. And I am buying a car from him, a Caterham. Like Jerry he is exceptionally bright. But things have moved on. This guy is an internet spy. Presumably looking inside other people’s computers all over the world. Without them realising.

These days, with the so called war on terror, there is a lot of recruiting of spies. At GCHQ they obviously want to recruit people who are very computer literate, as well as being prodigiously bright. So it really comes as no surprise that they are advertising jobs within computer games. It will give them exactly the people that they are looking for.

In fact it is a big surprise to me that computer games aren’t used more for marketing. The US Army has had a massive recruitment success by using a game. Yet they are the exception rather than the rule. And the game playing demographic is a highly important and difficult to reach one for so many goods and services.

Once again it is because often the people controlling the budgets are the over 40s and they haven’t the faintest idea what they are doing. The world has moved on and they haven’t kept up with it.

So are you a spy, or over 40? Do you think we are misunderstood, or only by the Daily Mail?