The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes in Thailand

Mark Cunliffe

I’m a liar you see.
And I will be honest here; you have my word as an old Etonion. The thing is, I was paid to be a liar, paid by Her Majesty’s Government. But I did it too well, started a little self-employment, and you people hate that, because you know that the capacity is in all of us, if we open the door to it.

Bangkok is a hot steamy fetid place, where one needs to imbibe at least four G&T’s an hour just to keep cool, and you usually end up changing clothes three times a day.
A place where secrets and lies are buried in both the heat and alcoholic haze. Where no one asks you questions because everyone thinks the worst anyway.

A perfect place for me then you might think?
I am Jeremy Stanton, formerly of MI6 just like his late father.
Sadly my father had a blameless career in ‘The Firm’, unlike me. But then, you chaps know that I’m sure, I mean you, my intended and by the time you read this, unsuccessful captors from London are my audience, my readership. I’m fairly sure I’ll know some of you, in which case, sorry I’ve had to dash without so much as a goodbye, but then I was never one for reunions.

It was quite easy for me to get into MI6, it was expected of me to enter the family business as it where and after a first class degree and unblemished time at Cambridge all the doors just swung open for me from the first floor entrance right up to the Russian desk in the summer of ’83. That’s when it all started to crumble, when my perfectly laid plans came to fruition and you poor saps never had a clue.

But of course these things can’t last forever, and it only takes one big mouth to put two and two together and blow the whistle. That was of course what happened to me. But I’ve always been blessed with brains and so my escape route was well planned.

Jeremy Stanton stepped from the shadows of one world and into another.
I’ve spent the last two years here in hiding, under an alias. The sweaty afternoons really just drag by, like a mosquito with only one wing. I spend most of my days in the, well, lets just call it ‘The Old Officer’s Club.’
This is where you find all the old ex pats with a dark past. Cowardly Colonels mostly drowning their shame in drink for the deaths of thousands they are to blame for.
Occasionally women too drink in this hellhole. Though it is rare, I even hear that they are allowed in golf clubs on certain days back home…. Shocking.

I guess I’ve been lazy really. I mean when you’ve traipsed round the globe with more fake cards than a hustler, you’re bound to want to just rest for a while. And that’s what I did here.
Too long it would appear. Your ‘tame’ journalist spotted me and did a little homework. Must be a comprehensive school chap, and word got around. Before I knew it I had to use all the old tradecraft I thought I’d left behind. Zigzagging around putrid bazaars being followed by agents so obvious they may as well had a placard. Honestly what are they teaching them these days?

So, I’m found out. No big deal, I chose this lifestyle and I stick by it. You’ll get no remorse from me. Yes I sold secrets firstly to the Russians and then after the Cold War defrosted like the proverbial turkey I moved onto industries. I feel no shame in what I did, it was something that I believed in and so therefore-
No, no, that’s a lie…and I said I wasn’t going to do that didn’t I?
Slapped wrists for Jeremy!

No my double life, my selling of frankly, third rate secrets that the ‘six’ boys at Vauxhall Bridge kept hold of so dearly in their clammy little palms, like some porn magazine was brought about purely for the money. THE MONEY. I mean honestly if some Leonid from Lubyanka and latterly some consolidated clot was willing to fork out for the pile of rubbish we held in esteem then, why should I have principles? Principles are worth nothing, we don’t benefit from their being in our lives. I mean, it doesn’t keep the Jag running now does it?

So there you have it, I sold secrets, not for beliefs like dear old Philby, but for money. I really did have to, I mean to say, some of my old fags were on better money than I. A gentleman has to do something to keep up doesn’t one?

It really was quite appalling sitting in one’s club back home and seeing some former chap one used to use to warm the lavatory seat waltz in as if he owned the place. This was the 80's, when these little oiks danced out of Oxbridge and into the music business or some such tawdry life, all cocaine and coca cola. Our Soviet cousins were a few years shy of those particular pleasures, and so I passed a few things onto them.

Of course question is, where does one move onto now? I could top myself I suppose, but I’m not that desperate…or bored. No, I shall continue to elude you and travel ever onward and upward. I shall be swift, I’m sure you’ll be here to read this soon. Yes, it will be Roger, I was always one step ahead of you wasn’t I?.

Oh well time to go. No doubt the chaps at the club will stare at my vacant chair and wonder what happened to me, for about a day before they return to the never- ending sundowners. I guarantee you there will be a similar chair in a similar club waiting for me by the time you arrive here.
Chin, chin.

© Mark Cunliffe March 2006

Sorry it's like this
Mark Cunliffe

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