Apophonia - the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data
I’d always wanted to be a spy or secret agent. From the moment I’d watched my first James Bond film at the age of eight, I knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. Doing my bit for the powers that be, by working behind the scenes in the fight against the forces of evil.
I drove my parents insane with my constant spy games – running around Gloucester pretending to shoot people, hiding in bushes to spy on the neighbours, speaking in Morse code... oh, and that time aged thirteen when I was caught in Old Mrs Bukowski’s bedroom with her knickers in my hand.
In my defence, she did have a strange name, a wart on her chin, and on this particular summer’s afternoon she’d left her kitchen window wide open. I was not, as I was unfairly accused of at the time, rifling through her underwear drawer for a cheap thrill, but was in fact looking for the evidence that would prove she was an enemy agent.
Fortunately, the officious police constable who caught me on the premises finally saw reason when my parents were able to explain the situation to him – although personally I wouldn’t have described my investigative work as ‘obsessive behaviour’. In the end I was let off with a stern warning, and I never bothered our Polish neighbour again, but to this day part of me is still convinced that she wasn’t as innocent as she’d led everyone to believe.
Despite this set back, or maybe even because of it, as I got older I stayed committed to doing whatever it would take to become a secret agent – joining the scouts to learn tracking, camping, woodcraft, and fishing, and choosing my GCSE’s and A Levels on the basis of what would be appropriate and would help me get me into Cambridge University.
At Cambridge I did a combined degree in computing and world affairs, certain that this would make me a prime candidate for selection by the MI6 recruiters widely believed to be active on campus.
However, despite several years of hard study and carefully planned casual hanging around on campus, I was never once approached by representatives of Her Majesty’s Government and asked to do the honourable thing and serve my country.
At the end of my final year, with a useless degree and with my dreams well and truly crushed, I attended the University’s career fair where I half-heartedly accepted a low paid position in a small Cambridge based company looking for ‘individuals with unique skill sets and a thirst for knowledge.’