As a kid, I had the usual career plans: astronaut, superhero, pirate, certified accountant specialising in management accounting, you know how it goes. Perhaps the main option, though, was Master Spy, mostly due to my bible on the subject, The KnowHow Book of Spycraft. This seems a slightly incongruous book in a series otherwise featuring KnowHow Books of Paper Fun, Puppets, Print and Paint and similar subjects, but it was perfectly natural at the time. I mastered a variety of ciphers and codes, had secret signals, a series of dead letter drops, everything a spy ring would need. Granted, they were all in the back garden, and possibly therefore of limited use for international operations, but still.
I just found the KnowHow Book of Spycraft while rummaging through some old stuff, and one section stood out even at the time: “Change Your Looks: If your enemy knows you and is watching for you, try these tricks.” Now I was all of seven or eight when I had this book, so see if you can spot some possible flaws with their suggested disguise methods:
“Put talcum powder on your hair and eyebrows to whiten them”
“From a distance, a blacked out tooth looks like a gap. First wipe the tooth dry. Then rub black crayon over it.”
“Draw wrinkle lines with a soft pencil, like a pencil marked 3B or 4B. Smile very hard, then wrinkle your forehead to see where the lines should go.”
And my favourite of all…
“Mix daubs of blue and black paint with some face cream, like Pond’s Cold Cream. Rub a little on your face like this, to look as though you need a shave.”
“Have you seen a master spy at all?”
“No, just a small child with white hair, wrinkles and a missing tooth who really needs a shave…”
“Missing tooth, you say? Well that’s not our man then.”
My personal favorite spy tip came from a similar book: secret communications by writing in lemon juice. You could heat the paper over the toaster to see the words.
Not only does the experience help the budding spy but also potentially introduces two other professions: fireman and angry father. :)
Heh, suddenly the need for a section on disguise tips becomes apparent!