My Many Hats (2. The Spy)

This week I depart ever so slightly from this week's Sepia Saturday "games" theme: although as a child I dearly loved proper games such as Uncle Wiggily, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Scrabble, and so on, much of my playtime was taken up with role-playing. The heyday of this activity began around fifth grade, 1965, when spies came into my realm of knowledge.

And soon enough I created my own spy, writing a collection of lavishly illustrated short stories of his outlandish exploits.
Simon Ferret, Esq., the UK's only "internationally known clairvoyant espionage agent"
Here's how that came about... What with the Cold War being in full swing (let me tell you some time about my Cuban Missile Crisis experience), spies were in the news and on the entertainment front. The James Bond films were too mature for me, but my mother did introduce me to The Man from UNCLE on TV, which I quickly became obsessed with. I took it deadly seriously, not realizing it was a spoof.

I acquired the requisite related materiel, from bubblegum cards, the soundtrack album, and books spun off from the series, to Corgi models of the UNCLE cars...

From here I quickly followed along with the popularity of the genre, soaking in episodes of the debonair I Spy g-men Robert Culp and Bill Cosby...

the peerless Avengers, with Emma Peel's Lotus and John Steed's (wait for it) BENTLEY, both of which Corgi also happily offered...

Pre-007 Roger Moore as The Saint with his dashing Volvo...

Bond himself eventually, with the classic Aston-Martin, which Corgi sold with all its bells and whistles...

Maxwell Smart and Agent 99, in Get Smart, which spoofed the spoofs with a wimpy little Sunbeam Alpine...

Honey West, who, to be fair wasn't a spy but a private eye, but still had a hot car, an AC Cobra...

And the creme-de-la-creme, Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner, hot on the heels of his Secret Agent (aka Danger Man)... in his Lotus 7

So back to Simon Ferret... it's hard to say whether his derring-do or his collection of rare automobiles was more important to his stories. 

He kept many garagefuls of them scattered around Europe for use at the drop of a bowler...typically attached to his palatial residences.

One of Simon's humble abodes

Spot these features in Simon's workroom: opaque projector, table of the elements, movie screen, hazmat suit, shortwave radio, and a ...er ...computer.

Simon's living room contained: the de rigeur lava lamp, fireman's pole to the lower floor, elevator-pedestal to the upper floor, an American-style phone booth, and a marmite dispenser.
I developed Simon into an alter-ego, becoming an obnoxious Anglophile to the extent of affecting a generic British accent (fluctuating wildly between BBC and a Beatle-y scouse) which still I slip into at odd moments to this day. 


  1. The very best thing is that you kept your wonderfully detailed artwork.

  2. I am impressed with Simon, his lava lamp and his amazing car collection. I used to enjoy 'Get Smart' too.
    Didn't like serious spy movies that much.

  3. I think that might just be Sean Connery with the Aston Martin, not Roger Moore, not that it really matters. I too am very impressed that you still have these drawings.

  4. Love these painstakingly detailed drawings. Wish I could hear the accent ;)

  5. And aren't you glad you kept all those wonderful drawings. For 10 or 11 years old, they're pretty darned good! And what an imagination! Do you still write stories? You certainly should. And with a name like Bentley it's no wonder you should be so interested in cars. :)

  6. Wonderful, wonderful. What about the cat on the red carpet?

  7. Such a lovely post...I'm really impressed with your art...as well as your imagination that was so clever. I'm a great spy fan, as well as loving those great old cars...well, not all old at the times. Thanks!

  8. These are FANTASTIC!

    And you named all of my fave shows when I was a teen.