London Bus Outside MI6

“All Spies Alight Here”

And Other Secrets!

As someone who doesn’t watch much TV, relatively speaking, the one time I do tend to put on my favourite type of programme, a documentary, is when I’m doing the ironing each week. This week I decided on the PBS show, Secrets of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, part of the Secrets of Britain series, which actually originally aired some years ago but is now showing again on Netflix. I have to say, I found it absolutely captivating!

The Secret World of Espionage

I’ve always found the idea of espionage, usually a government-sanctioned spying, an enthralling concept. Something akin to the pirates and privateers of old, such spies seem to exist in a world that does not play by the normal rules experienced by those outside of its parameters.

History of MI6

The programme begins by taking us through the creation of Military Intelligence Section 6, aka MI6, with some intriguing glimpses into this mysterious yet world-famous organisation.

Traditions

Most of us will be familiar with the fictional spy, James Bond and the almost equally famous character of M, the commander of the organisation in the book and films. What I didn’t realise until watching this programme was that the idea that the commander of the organisation would sign off using their initial was actually based in fact from a habit of the first commander of MI6, Sir Mansfield Cumming, who would sign off his communications as “C”, something all commanders of the organisation sign off as to this day. Another tradition of writing in green ink was also credited to being instigated at MI6 by Sir Mansfield Cumming who had brought the habit to the organisation from his days serving as an officer of the Navy.

The Most Famous “Secret” Location in the World!

Talking of James Bond, it is an interesting paradox that one of our most secretive organisations here in the UK is also one of the most famous in the world, mainly thanks to the success of the James Bond franchise. One of my favourite stories from the programme was how when MI6 was housed in one of its previous buildings, whilst its location was meant to be a secret, it was such a badly kept secret that when buses passing close by would stop at the nearest bus stop, conductors were known for sarcastically saying:

“All spies alight here”!

Secret Identities & Poisonings

The programme also takes us briefly through disguises and aliases used in modern-espionage, as well as the invaluable service those serving in MI6 provided in World War II in particular, before bringing in the dark days of the Cold War and some of the more recent famous examples of espionage on the streets of London, such as the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko amongst others.

Similar Viewing

I’ve added a link to the PBS website page for the series below. So far I’ve managed to get through Secrets of the Tower of London, Secrets of Underground London and Secrets of Scotland Yard, all of which I strongly recommend as a really interesting take on some of the UK’s most well-known places and organisations.

There’s also a Secrets of the Manor House series which include famous homes of the aristocracy including Chatsworth House and Althorp, the latter of which was the childhood home of the late Princess Diana, all chock full of interesting anecdotes and stories of past and present former inhabitants.

If you enjoy historical documentaries and you’re looking to watch an interesting series, why not give these a go on Netflix and let me know which stories you find most intriguing?

Have We Been Brainwashed into Buying More?

I love stumbling across something random on Netflix and this week I just so happened to stumble across Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which definitely got me thinking.

Now, I’m not a minimalist at all nor am I a hoarder – for one I’m not a big shopping fan – but the documentary did raise some interesting points about whether or not, over a number of decades being exposed to some fairly insidious advertising techniques, we have collectively and inadvertently bought into a culture of compulsive consumerism.

One of the questions it was suggested to ask yourself was if the goods you are buying are adding value to your life. If they are great, purchase them but essentially, it’s just adding a moment of mindfulness before getting sucked into the next fashion fad and spending for the sake of spending.

I won’t say too much more about the programme as I’d rather people watch it themselves and make their own minds up or head over to the website of the people behind the programme and book:

https://www.theminimalists.com/films/

So, Have We All Been Brainwashed?

Probably – who hasn’t even just once in their lives purchased something, not because it added real value to our lives, but because of the supposed prestige that came along with wearing/owning that item.

I came from a really disadvantaged background where money was very tight – always. It never bothered me until I got to high school and the fact that I was bullied on a daily basis for living in social housing and not having the “right” trainers or clothes with the most fashionable label. My first job was as a paper-girl at 13 (without a bike!) where I trudged the streets for a measly £5.00 per week 6-days a week getting up at 6 am. I knew as soon as I got that job what I was going to buy when I’d saved up enough money – a pair of Adidas trainers. It took me 5 weeks to buy a super discounted pair but I still remember how proud I was when I got those trainers.

Did it stop the bullying? No, the damage was already done but I don’t blame the children who bullied me anymore. They were brainwashed and victims themselves of a culture that celebrates “things” over “people”.

Can We Change the Compulsive Consumer Culture?

Definitely – I think the tide is already turning. So many of us now are realising that we were duped. We bought all the wonderful make-up, clothes, technology, cars, holidays, etc but we still feel unfulfilled. What’s that all about?

I’ve come across so many people recently who have made the decision to turn inwards towards themselves, as well as reconnecting with other people rather than things, and in doing so have found genuine peace and happiness. Once that peace is discovered, the compulsive consumer illusion tends to shatter irrevocably pretty quickly.

It doesn’t mean that we have to live like hermits and give up all our belongings, just a priority re-adjustment on what’s really important and brings more lasting contentment. It also doesn’t mean that we’ll never be sad, angry, hurt, confused or feel unfulfilled at times – it’s about facing those feelings and not quashing those emotions with short-lived and shallow distractions.

Having said all that, this is all just my take on our current culture tendencies, as inspired by the documentary and my own observations. Give the documentary a try yourself and let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Looking for Your Life Purpose?

No Planet B

Maybe this is it. If you haven’t yet watched the thought-provoking Our Planet on Netflix with Sir David Attenborough’s urgent message to us all, I highly recommend it.

Taking Inspiration from Across Generations

Personally, seeing Greta Thunberg and her fellow young supporters making such an impact, I feel pretty inspired to do whatever I can, whenever I can to at least try.

And the amazing thing about it is that it has helped bring new purpose to my life, to see and interact with the world around me in a different way.

Turning Over a New Leaf

It wasn’t always like this for me. I was never brought up in a family or world that really cared about these issues as strongly as they do today. But, as Sir David and his team of scientists make clear, there is still time – just.

I keep seeing the phrase “Every disaster movie starts with the government ignoring a scientist” and frighteningly there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

How You Can Help

If you do just one thing today to help the planet, become more educated on climate change whether by watching the amazing Our Planet or visiting websites such as WWF and Friends of the Earth – you’ll be glad you did.