ROGER CLARKE and SAM KIRSOP enjoyed being children again in this MDF palace of amateur espionage.
We’re sitting in an MDF box, a desk-fan blowing onto us from above as our make-shift helicopter transports us to the Russian Embassy. What the fuck are we doing here?
The SpymastersTM website had promised us an experience like no other. A fusion of “Mission Impossible and The Crystal Maze”. Just 10 miles North of Cambridge, a warehouse was the unlikely launch pad for an operation of national importance. Our training agent assured us that, even though we were older than their average recruit, the adventure was suitable for “kids aged 8 to 80”.
Once our ‘helicopter’ had ‘landed’ at the Russian Embassy we were confronted with a barrage of codes to be broken, lasers to be dodged and pressure pads to be traversed. All expertly constructed from materials purchased at Homebase.
Every door had a keypad, every computer was password-protected; fortunately the Russian authorities had generously placed plaques on the walls detailing the necessary information. At one point we were even confronted by a face scanner. Luckily we had faces.
Another challenge included navigating a room riddled with pressure pads in order to disable the embassy’s air conditioning system. Conveniently our enemies had marked out their traps with hazard tape. Once the fans had stopped blowing we rushed to escape through an opened vent, crawling one after another.
You’d think that getting down and sweaty on all fours would bring us closer together. In fact the mission was rocking the foundations of our friendship. As we ducked and weaved through a lazer grid, our rapport with one another descended from coercion to bullying. One member of our group fell foul to friendly fire, the victim of a flying elbow… and knee. As his black eye wept fluid he adopted the foetal position.
Although relationships were never fully restored, we still had a job to do – penetrating our adversary to the core. Luckily we’d just grabbed our guns and were ready to discharge our ammo. We also made excellent use of our C4 explosives, ducking behind a wall to avoid the blast. With the lights flashing and our hearts beating, we couldn’t help but suspect that the noise of the explosion was emanating from our training agent’s mouth.
With the assignment reaching its climax, we clambered up the control tower and slid down a mysteriously located slide. Punching (yet) another set of codes into the computer revealed our final score – a paltry 220. We had been let down by our lack of experience in crossing lazer fields, a vocational activity that even the Education Tripos doesn’t prepare you for.
Spymasters is open from Tuesday-Sunday and costs £14/person. They will be opening a brand new site next month in Milton Keynes, three times of the size of the current facility. For more information check out www.spymasters.co.uk