Agent Smith

“Miss, you know that Mr Smith?”

Mr Smith is our careers advisor, so obviously I do.

“Yes, of course.”

“Is he a secret agent?”

A secret agent. Wow, I hope so. Although obviously it’s somewhat unlikely.

“Maybe. What gave him away?”

“Well, when Sads went for his careers interview, he said he could speak Spanish and Mr Smith started talking to him in really good Spanish. He’s much better than Sads.”

This isn’t too surprising really. Sads is doing GCSE Spanish and goes to Spain on his holidays. It’s great that he’s learning a language, I’m not knocking him, but I don’t think he’s exactly fluent just yet. On the other hand Secret Agent Mr Smith used teach Spanish (and French and – I think – German), in fact he was head of department at another school before he changed career. As a non speaker, I can’t vouch for his Spanish, but his French is fantastic.

“Riiiight,” I say in my best puzzled voice, “So why does that mean he’s a secret agent?”

“Well he speaks Spanish. Really good Spanish.”

“Yes,” I say, sounding unconvinced.

“Well we were thinking of what job might need you to be really good at Spanish and we can only think of secret agent.”

Good grief, words fail me. This conversation was with a group of Y11 boys. They are 16 years old and in a few months time will be leaving our school to set sail on the good ship of young adulthood. Either modern foreign languages are seriously undervalued, or I need to do some reappraising of the world’s Spanish speaking population.

“So you think he’s a secret agent just because he speaks Spanish?”

“Yes.”

“Is Sads a secret agent as well then? He speaks Spanish.”

I receive a withering look for my stupidity. “Of course not Miss, he’s still learning. Mr Smith speaks really good Spanish.”

“Right. So what about Spanish people, they speak really good Spanish. Are they all secret agents then?” Not to mention the citizens of many other nations. Half the world in fact.

“Now you’re just being silly Miss! Not all of them are secret agents.”

Oh, I’m being silly. Silly me.

I do hope they were joking. They are at that ironic eye-rolling age.

Later I see Secret Agent Mr Smith as I walk down the corridor. I greet him with a hearty cry of “Good morning Secret Agent Smith!”

“Arrgh, you’ve been talking to Y11 haven’t you?”

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